Is it worth getting a chromebook?

The Google chromebook was launched a couple of years ago and with much din. Today, it is not heard that much of. But in the last week, a lot of my friends were contemplating replacing their notebooks with a chromebook. They wanted my advice. So I looked into the idea and here is what I came up with. First of all, what is a chromebook? Well it is a notebook with nothing but the Chrome browser installed in it. So what? Well, it boots in seconds and can get most of your daily work done real fast.And it is cheap, prices start at $199. You get 100 GB of Google drive space free for two years. There is no concept of a local storage, so no hard disk, hence ultralight.

Stick it in your purse, backpack, or briefcase. It weighs 2.4 pounds, is less than 0.7 inches thin, and has more than 6.5 hours of battery life.  A Windows laptop can take two or three minutes until it’s ready to run. It’s a whole different story with the  Chromebook: it takes nine seconds from pressing the start button until the login window pops up. Only two more seconds elapse after the password is entered. It takes about the same amount of time for the netbook to make a Wi-Fi internet connection, pulling up the web-based user interface. Things go even faster — a total of three seconds — when it’s time for the Chromebook to wake up from standby and re-establish its Wi-Fi connection.

The operating system is key to the speed. Most laptops using either a Windows or Mac OS system open multiple layers of the system, as well as components and programs during start up, creating the impression that the process takes an eternity.

Meanwhile, the Chromebook, at its core, is just a Linux operating system and the Chrome browser. Programs like email clients, word processors, spreadsheets, games or photo processing programs are not stored on the computer, but accessed via the browser as web services.

For working while online, Google has made available its reliable suite of web applications, including Gmail, Calendar and a series of apps like Google Docs. But users are not limited to Google programs. There’s also access to competitors like Yahoo and Microsoft.

If it is that good, why isn’t the market flooded with them? Why do we see ultrabooks everywhere instead of chrome books?

The biggest drawback isn’t selection of programs — which is always growing — but the need to rely on a stable internet connection. The Chromebook is capable of almost nothing when offline.

The main catch is the main feature of the chromebook. As a product, it makes sense only if you are on the cloud 24×7 and even trying to save a local copy of a file is a circus and does not work! That means, if you are in an area with no signal, then the chromebook is just a paperweight, a very costly one!

Thus, the Chromebook, for now, is only of interest to people who can spend their entire day in a networked environment, like students on a campus or people with reliable internet connections in their home or office.

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