How to choose the right laptop
A lot of laptops, from budget to luxury, are available in all types of shapes and sizes. But what do you buy when virtually everything you do is online, doesn’t need a lot in terms of software support, and you want to spend on the low hundreds, regardless of the thousands? A Chromebook can be your answer.
These cheap laptops don’t offer a complete Windows experience. (If you know the Chrome browser, get used to it: most Chromebook activities take place in this world.) But the Chromebooks’ web-centric operation and very low prices make them perfect for lightweight social media and productivity-based on the web. If you spend more than 90% of your computer time in a web browser, you should have few problems using a Chromebook as your primary PC.
Most Chromebooks don’t include impressive hardware, but they rarely require it, either. Since you will be visiting websites and running programs on Chrome OS, which is basically an optimized version of the Chrome browser, the technical barrier to entry is low. It also means that you don’t have to deal with downloading and installing traditional software; if you are unable to do something on or within a standard web page, you are likely to be able to do so in one of the thousands of applications and extensions available to Chrome OS users.
With just a few clicks, your Chromebook can have almost the same functionality as an affordable Windows laptop, and you can install any application designed for the Android mobile operating system on many newer Chromebooks. (If you’re looking for older or discounted Chromebooks, be aware of this important distinction; Android app support is a relatively recent development and check this list to ensure that the older model you are viewing is supported.) That means Microsoft Office is now available on many Chromebooks on the Google Play Store for Chrome, a revolution in functionality that removes one of the last barriers that prevent productivity devotees from switching to Chrome.
A major benefit of running exclusively web-based software is security. For all intents and purposes, you are immune to viruses and other malware that often affect vulnerable Windows systems. Chrome OS updates also take just seconds to complete, instead of the minutes or hours you can wait Mac OS and windows to update them. While easy access to an always-on Internet connection is a must for Chromebooks, you can perform most standard tasks offline and sync later, so you don’t have to delay or interrupt your work if you have an Internet connection. connectivity solution.
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Five important things to look for
When you buy a Chromebook, you will notice less variety of hardware than on Windows machines. These are the specifications and the most important factors to note.
SCREEN RESOLUTION. The usual native screen resolution on a Chromebook will be 1,920 by 1,080 pixels, also known as 1080p, but some cheaper Chromebooks may have a lower resolution and high-end models may have a higher resolution. For most medium-sized Chromebooks with 13 to 15 inch screens, 1080p is great.
PROCESSOR. A low-cost CPU, like a Celeron or a Pentium, will do just fine if all you do is navigate with one or two tabs open. Chromebooks based on Intel Core CPUs, such as Core i3 and Core i5, will allow for more capable multitasking. They will also be more expensive, with everything else being equal.
A $ 300 Windows laptop with an Intel Celeron processor and 4 GB of memory can be unpleasant in everyday use on Windows 10, but a Chromebook with those same specifications should offer a great user experience. If you tend to be multitasking, consider a Core chip.
STORAGE CONSIDERATIONS. Most of your files on a Chromebook will be stored in the cloud; therefore, Chromebooks include only a small amount of eMMC-based storage, usually 32 GB or 64 GB, to save your local creations. Look for an SD card slot if you think you want to save more files to the device.
CONNECTIVITY. Most Chromebook connections are wireless, as you use the machine almost exclusively connected to Wi-Fi. Ethernet ports are not common. If you need to make presentations, look for a video output port, such as HDMI, that matches the screens you will have at your disposal. Also look for one or two USB ports, if you want to connect a mouse or other peripheral wired.
How Chromebooks are evolving
Newer Chromebooks have moved from basic systems with Chrome OS to sleek computers that offer surprisingly rich features. Some sport carbon fiber chassis or use a lightweight magnesium alloy frame with a glossy white plastic exterior. Others add a bright, in-plane switching (IPS) screen, which offers sharp images and wide viewing angles, and some elite models exchange standard eMMC-based storage for a faster and more spacious 128-inch solid-state drive (SSD) GB. The main models have a premium style that even high-end laptop owners would envy.
In the past few years, the Chromebook category has matured beyond basic functionality and real competition is now based on features. We are seeing more options that were previously only available on Windows laptops. On the one hand, some Chromebooks now have touch screens and, starting with version 71 of the Chrome operating system, it has been optimized for touch input. This is useful when you use Android apps, created from scratch for touch.
Various screen sizes, from 10 to 15 inches, are also available. Other models boast convertible designs that allow you to fold your Chromebook into modes for use on laptops, tablets or presentations, according to 360-degree rotation models, such as the Lenovo Yoga or HP x360 families. Now, some models allow you to disconnect keyboards to use them as real tablets, just as you can with Windows Tablets.
The result is that today, a budget laptop and a similarly priced Chromebook can be more similar than you think.
So which Chromebook should I buy?
Whether you’re a Facebook addict or just need a machine to check email and work on Google apps, Chromebooks are easy to use, convenient to take anywhere and inexpensive. If you think a Chrome OS laptop is right for you, check out the comments below to see the top rated Chromebooks we’ve tested. If you absolutely need Windows and don’t have an unlimited budget, our best cheap laptops and the best laptops for college students it’s worth a look too. And for more general advice on buying a laptop, see our comprehensive shopping guide with main laptop options, regardless of price.