It’s now been about two years since I bought my first Chromebook, the Acer C720. Since then, the lightweight laptop’s been quite useful. Its usefulness has increased even more since upgrading to a Toshiba Chromebook model earlier this year, giving me a Chromebook with the specs of a low-end laptop, versus the Acer’s netbook specs.
Below I’ll list the pros and cons of my Chromebook experience to date.
The Chromebook’s strength is in being affordable. The Acer C720 ran $200, while the Toshiba Chromebook cost $330. Meanwhile, my HP laptop cost $700+ when I bought it several years ago. And those were all cheaper than what buying even the cheapest MacBook Air would run; from Apple’s website, a 13″ MacBook Air with the default 8GB of RAM and AppleCare would run $1,248 before sales tax.
Easy to maintain
The Chromebooks have been easy to maintain and fairly trouble free. I haven’t had any of the odd bugs I still occasionally find with running a conventional Linux distribution. Maintenance is basically being prompted to restart once new updates are installed in the background, making the Chromebook easy for anyone to manage.
I can do my usual daily computing functions
With everything being heavily cloud-based these days, plus web-based applications available, I can do my usual daily computing duties on my Chromebook. Today, I’ve used the Chromebook for updating my website, playing podcasts and music, watching YouTube, reading my usual websites, posting on social media, and writing this very blog post. Google Docs, Spotify/Google Play Music, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook… all applications or sites I’d likely use on other computers.
Android apps are coming
Android app support is coming soon for all recent Chromebook models, which will provide an even greater range of functionality.
A lack of certain apps or functionality
While I can do most of my usual computing duties, Chromebooks still have a few gaps in functionality, mainly on the “power user” side. There’s not much of a choice of digital comic reading apps (for stand-alone comic files) available, and no real support for playing DVDs from an external drive. Also forget about ripping DVDs, for those that still do that.
However, since Android app support is coming, that should lessen some of these points. Having the Google Play store access will let me install my usual Android comic book reading apps. I also still have my HP laptop, in case I need a computer with a more “mainstream” operating system or particular apps/functions I can’t do in Chrome OS.
More an issue with my Acer C720, but the lowest end Chromebooks, while cheap, might be a bit too low end specs-wise. I’d say a minimum of 4GB of RAM is really necessary to avoid performance problems. The 4GB on my Toshiba Chromebook (plus improved specs overall) help make things go much more smoothly than my old Acer, and thus more useful for regular usage.
Fortunately, there’s a wider range of Chromebooks now being released versus two years ago, and that includes models with higher end specs. It’s nice that there’s now more choice between a $200 netbook-like machine with 2GB of RAM or a $1,000 Pixel.
The two years I’ve spent using my Chromebook have been enjoyable. While I know they aren’t for everyone, those looking for a cheap laptop or secondary computer might want to consider going with a Chromebook.