With traditional laptops getting harder and harder to source because of a sudden spike in demand due to work-from-home professionals and students forced to study from home, many are now looking at affordable laptop alternatives to tide them over till things go back to normal. One attractive alternative is the lowly Chromebook, a budget laptop hybrid of sorts that hasn’t seen massive adoption because of its limitations that have become less of an issue during the age of COVID 19. But what exactly is a Chromebook, and what can it do compared to a laptop?
What exactly is a Chromebook?
A Chromebook is, in a nutshell, a budget laptop that runs Chrome OS instead of Windows or Mac. Because of the relatively lightweight nature of the Chrome OS, Chromebooks don’t need the same processing power that traditional laptops running Windows do. Because of that, it can run on less powerful (and more importantly, less expensive) hardware, allowing the use of mostly productivity-focused apps and programs downloaded from the Google Play Store, and comes in at a vastly lower price point – Lenovo’s most affordable Chromebook that’s coming out in a few days is priced at just Php 14,495!
Here’s what a Chromebook can do:
- Run productivity-focused apps and programs – there are plenty of apps and programs that can run on the Chromebook that is tailored specifically for blended learning. Chrome OS has access to many Google Apps that are utilized for home learning, like Zoom, MS Teams, and Google Meet, as well as Canvas. Chromebooks have been successfully been used in many countries as a low-cost alternative to laptops for school districts and other educational institutions, and as such has robust support for several web-based learning management systems like Canvas.
- Run entertainment apps like Facebook, YouTube, and Netflix – since Chrome OS utilizes your Google account to download apps (and is based on the Android operating system) you can also download and stream content on it like you would a regular phone or tablet.
- Run word processing programs and the like offline – while a Chromebook works best in an online environment (meaning it’s always connected) it still works even if there’s limited or no internet present in your area or location. Take note you’ll be limited to simple word processing tasks and number crunching via Excel or whatever equivalent you have.
- Stay on for a longer time than a traditional laptop – because of the lower power requirements of the hardware that’s needed on a Chromebook compared to a traditional laptop, Chromebooks are usually more power-efficient and last longer off the power socket, making it ideal for workers and students.
- Save you money – a Chromebook is vastly cheaper than a regular laptop, with many models typically going for less than Php 20K, with Lenovo’s incoming models priced at below Php 16K. And while Lenovo is the only brand, for now, to push new Chromebook models into the mainstream market in a while, and we’re sure other brands will be following suit as well.
Here’s what a Chromebook can’t do:
- Run programs meant for Windows-powered laptops – because Chromebooks use a different OS, you won’t be able to download games and applications that you’d normally use on a traditional laptop or desktop. That means you’re not going to be able to use photo and video editing programs outside the ones that are available in the Play Store, nor download games that don’t have a Play Store equivalent.
- Store large amount of files – Chromebooks typically use smaller storage options compared to laptops, with most providing around 32GB of expandable storage. Some offer 64GB, while others offer slower, higher-capacity hard drives.
- Gaming – most, if not all, Chromebooks use slower, less powerful processors that typically don’t do well for gaming. You can of course download games from the Play Store to use in the Chromebook but that’s as far as you’ll be able to go when it comes to playing games.