Google Chromebook has been launched and the reviews are pouring in. Some are positive while others say the device and the Operating System is ahead of its time.
Currently available Chromebook laptops: the best selling laptop on amazon!
It remains to be seen whether Chrome OS becomes a popular choice or is used by just a select few. Chrome OS is different from other Operating Systems – the software is wedded to the hardware – i.e. you cannot install Chrome OS on a machine running Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux.
One can certainly install Chromium OS, the Open Source counterpart of Chrome OS on a Laptop, Netbook, or Desktop. However, that is not everyone’s cup of Tea.
So let’s learn a bit more about the Chrome OS and the path breaking Chromebooks.
THE revolutionary aspect of the Chrome OS is the fact that it is designed, unlike any other PC system around today, to work in the cloud. That means that while the Chromebook can work offline (they do have a decent amount of harddrive or flashdrive space built in), as soon as you go online everything will be synched with the Google servers. These laptops are designed to work with Google Drive (aka Google Docs). So if you want to write a paper or calculate something in as spreadsheet, you’ll go to Google Drive.
You CAN use non-Google apps on Google Chrome – any apps available for the Chrome browser, in fact. That’s because the whole OS is built around the browser. On my Chrome browser, for instance, I have my Dropbox app. It’s not by Google, but it does hold my most important documents. Tech folk will be glad to hear there are actual text-editing apps around as well, designed to work with the Google Drive.
And yes, there are games available for Google Chrome as well. This is a full blown OS. Just one that pulls most of it’s weight in the cloud.
No more backing up – you can leave it to the IT folk at Google.
No more firewalls, virus scans and mallware probes – getting rid of an unwanted chrome extension is as simple as de-installing it.
Chromebooks are mainly getting used in high security – low budget environments like libraries and schools. The fact that the OS gets updated automatically is a security bonus as is the fact that you can’t install anything on it, other than apps. However, they are also becoming popular as budget laptops.
Google Drive (which incorporates Google Docs) makes Google Chrome a decent PC for simple office tasks like writing papers and simple spreadsheets. This makes Google Chrome a possible low budget PC for kids in primary school, middle school and high school – tweens and teens.
Chromebook started out as something of a joke – now it’s the main PC for schools
Working in the cloud is becoming more and more of a viable option. WiFi access is all over the place, these days. In schools especially the safety of the Chromebook combined with enough local storage make this THE laptop of choice. And a nice bonus is that work will just never get lost again. No more ‘The DOG ate it!’.
If anything goes wrong, you can simply reboot and start over. It’s all in the cloud anyhow – so no work gets lost!
Browser and Apps Based Operating System
Chrome OS works primarily through the Google Chrome Browser and Google Apps. Though there is a Hard Drive in Chromebooks, the storage offered is not much – only 16 GB. Google would like us to store our documents on its servers.
Google Chromebooks are available in Wi-Fi and 3G models. Some critics have pointed out that Chrome OS and Chromebooks are virtually paper weights without an Internet connection. I am pretty comfortable working in such an environment and Google is working to make many applications available Online. Google Docs is a recent example.
There are some cool features of Chrome OS and Chromebooks which may help it penetrate the market. The battery life is exceptional – upto 8.5 hours on a single charge and one would never have to pay for newer versions of the Operating System – it would upgrade automatically through the cloud!
According to some experts Chromebook will be loved by elderly users who use the Internet primarily to send and receive mails and surf websites. Whatever be the case, there is no doubt that this Operating System is unique – that’s why Google is selling it initially only Online. The reasoning is that if the Chromebooks are offered for purchase alongside traditional Netbooks and Laptops, in brick and mortar stores, people who arn’t adequately informed about the features may pick it up as an alternative and be disappointed.
Chromebooks are said to be much cheaper to run and maintain than regular computers and Educational institutes and businesses may find it a good alternative to their existing computer infrastructure.
Overall, I am pretty impressed with this offering of Google. Will try and grab one soon. I have created a series of webpages on Chromebooks. You’ll find them useful in getting acquainted with the OS and also if you are looking for the best accessories for your Chromebooks.
Chromebook Compatible Printers
HP ENVY All in One Printer
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HP LaserJet Pro ePrinters
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Can I Install Chrome OS on My Existing Laptop/Netbook?
As mentioned earlier, it isn’t possible. However, you can install something very similar to Chrome OS. It is the Chromium OS, an open source and free alternative.
If you are comfortable trying new things and know a bit about Linux, it really shouldn’t be an issue. Below are a couple of links which will be helpful if you’d like to give Chromium OS a try.
See also these Chromebook Accessories
More laptops here