Chrome OS is a very polarizing Linux distribution. While some people very wrongly call the operating system nothing other than a glorified web browser, in reality, it is actually very secure and capable. Many home users do all of their computing in a web browser nowadays, making Google's desktop OS an excellent choice.
Laptops running the Linux-based OS are called "Chromebooks". For many consumers, these computers are attractive for no other reason than cost -- they incorrectly think the platform is all about being inexpensive and low quality. Unfortunately, many manufacturers perpetuate that stereotype. As Google's wildly expensive Chromebook Pixel showed, however, Chrome OS devices can be elegant. Today, Samsung is taking aim at elegance with the all-new Chromebook Pro and Plus.
Chromebooks are wonderful computers -- if they meet your needs. Look, if you do hardcore video editing, or have a need for programs that only run on Windows or macOS, then yeah, Chrome OS will stink -- for you. However, if you live in the web browser and are always online anyway, why not a Chromebook?
Laptops running Chrome OS are particularly wonderful for education, as they are inexpensive, easy to manage, and very secure. Today, Acer announces an affordable model -- aimed at schools -- that it calls Chromebook 11 N7 (C731). Best of all, it is very durable, making it less likely to break in the hands of careless children.
2016 is drawing to a close and we're already looking forward to everything a new year will bring. It gets started quick when the Consumer Electronics Show kicks off 2017, but before we start ogling at all those products that may or may not ever see a store shelf, it's time to take a glance back at the year that was.
Many products showed up on the BetaNews doorstep this year and we all worked hard to bring you an overview of them so you'd know what to buy and what to avoid. Now it's time for me to take a look at a few of my favorite items from the past 12 months.
Chromebooks are very interesting laptops. They run neither Windows nor macOS, but instead, a Linux-based operating system called Chrome OS that puts a web browser on the front stage. It is not just any browser, but Google's Chrome. In other words, most apps are web-based and no other browser other than the search giant's own can be used. It makes for an easy-to use and secure platform, but it can be very limited. They definitely have their place, however.
If you have been looking for a new Chromebook with some modern specifications and features, I have some good news. An all-new convertible touchscreen ASUS Chromebook has hit Newegg. Apparently, the company has not yet announced the laptop, making it quite the surprise. Called "C302CA-DHM4", it has solid specifications, looks great, and best of all, it is reasonably priced.
Many educators won't agree, but perhaps students will: The PC, whether desktop or notebook, is obsolete in the classroom. This reality, if accepted for what it is, presents Apple opportunity to retake the K-12 market from Alphabet-subsidiary Google's incursion and sudden success with Chromebook among U.S. schools. If the fruit-logo company doesn't seize the moment, a competitor will—and almost certainly selling devices running Android.
Chromebook's educational appeal is three-fold: low cost, manageability, and easy access to Google informational services. For buy-in price, and TCO, no Apple laptop or tablet running macOS or iOS, respectively, can compete. Think differently! Providing students any kind of computer is shortsighted, by narrowly presuming that schools, or their parents, must buy something. I suggest, in this time of budgetary constraints, that educators instead use what the kids already possess (or want to) and what they use easily and quickly: The smartphone.
A few days ago, one of my Google+ followers, Steve Kluver, commented on an August 2014 share: "I am shopping for some more Chromebooks this Holiday Season, and found this post via G+ hashtag #chromebook search. How current is your ebook now?" He refers to Chromebook Reviews, which is available from Amazon for sale or for free reading with Kindle Unlimited. I apologized that the tome, published more than two years ago, is "way out of date". If I'm not going to revise, I really should remove the title.
I offered to give him buying advice, which got me to thinking about Chromebook as a concept and computing edifice. While a big fan, and owner of both generations of Google-made Chromebook Pixel, my primary laptop was a MacBook Pro for most of 2016. Measure of commitment: I bought the new 15.4-inch Touch Bar model just a few weeks ago. I've moved on, and got to thinking about why in crafting my response.
Chromebooks are not for everyone, but for many home users, it is absolute perfection. If you live in the web browser -- as many people do nowadays -- laptops running Google's Linux-based Chrome OS are a godsend because they are maintenance free. No need for confusing OS upgrades or anti-virus software. It just works, and it works well. Since they can now run Android apps too, they could become a serious threat to Microsoft and Windows 10.
One of the most attractive aspects of Chromebooks is price -- they are often quite affordable. Today, Acer refreshes its 15.6 inch Chromebook 15 with a mind-boggling 12 hours of battery life. Best of all? It starts at $199. Yes, this model will get Android app support in a future update too.
A lot of pundits like to put down the Linux-based Chrome OS for being deficient compared to more mature desktop operating systems. True, both Windows 10 and macOS are far more useful and powerful -- for now -- but the beauty of Chrome OS is its simplicity. It is arguably the most secure platform too, least likely to experience malware and vulnerabilities. Chromebooks rock, y'all!
With all of that said, Android app support is slowly being rolled-out to some Chromebooks, potentially making them much more useful. Hopefully this does not impact security, however. Today, Acer announces a 13.3-inch touchscreen convertible called 'Chromebook R 13'. While it will not have Google Play support out of the box, Android app support is being promised by the end of 2016.
When it comes to get working done, I leverage many operating systems -- Windows 10, Ubuntu, iOS, and believe it or not, even Chrome OS. Google's cloud-focused desktop OS is actually quite capable -- depending on needs, of course. Many things work wonderfully in a browser nowadays, such as word processing, spreadsheets, and photo editing.
Apparently, Charles Schwab has seen the light on Chromebooks too, as the financial company has chosen them for a specific need -- in-person account opening. In other words, the much-respected company did not choose Windows 10 for this project. Sorry, Microsoft!
Chromebooks are wonderful computers for many reasons. Besides often being affordable, they are based on the Linux kernel, which creates a rock-solid foundation. They feature a largely malware free experience thanks to its focus on the web rather than local storage. With that said, Google's delivery of the Play Store and locally-installed Android apps to the web-based platform is going to change everything -- maybe for the better. From a security perspective, it could be for the worse.
Today, HP announces the Chromebook 11 G5. This all-new Chrome OS laptop is extremely affordable, starting at less than $200. The real news, however, is that this low-cost machine can be equipped with an optional touchscreen, which HP is offering as a way to future-proof for eventual Android app usage.
Ever since Google developed and released both its Android and Chrome operating systems, there has been some confusion as to why the two platforms weren't combined. So far the company has been mum on plans to merge the two, but that process seems to be starting.
Just this week Android apps were released to the Asus Flip, and now two more devices will be getting the added features soon.
If you purchased Apple's newest MacBook, congratulations -- you own a really cool svelte machine. While a bit under-powered, for some people -- depending on their needs -- it is a solid, albeit expensive, choice. Unfortunately, while its USB Type-C port is quite modern, it is the only port on the machine (other than a 3.5mm audio jack). This is problematic, as you cannot charge the laptop while utilizing USB accessories.
The way around this limitation, however, are USB hubs which also pass-through power. Today, Plugable announces a new product that takes this concept a step further. Its new UD-CA1 is a USB Type-C universal charging docking station, capable of outputting 4K video. It is a full-fledged single-cable docking solution for not only Apple's MacBook, but Windows and Linux machines with USB Type-C too -- including Chrome OS. When combined with a display, keyboard, and mouse, the Plugable UD-CA1 will turn the laptop into a powerful desktop workstation.
Answer: Your kids. Chromebook leads laptop and desktop sales through U.S. commercial channels to schools, according to NPD. Education is overwhelmingly the primary market for the computers. The institutions can't buy enough of the thangs, for their utility and low-cost compared to notebooks running either OS X or Windows. That cost is as much about extended webapps and services from Google (or its developer partners), available for free or comparatively next-to-nothing, set against software for the other platforms.
Wrinkle in the Google firmament: iPhone and Chromebook are like water and dirt. The sediment settles unless shaken up. Sure youngsters can do all their Googly things—Docs, Gmail, Maps, Photos, YouTube, etc. -- on iOS but the experience is smoother and more homogenous when mixed Android and Chrome OS. What the kiddies lack, and their educators, is a swath of useful apps like the Apple kids get.
Much like Windows Mobile, Chromebooks have long suffered with something of a limited range of apps. Starting today, all this changes; Google is bringing the full range of Android apps to Chromebook users via the Google Play store.
With Chromebooks having just overtaken Macs in terms of popularity, the introduction of millions of Android apps to the platform is incredibly well-timed. Before you get too excited, the rollout is not immediate. Users on the developer channel with certain Chromebook models will get access first, but there are plans to bring Google Play to more devices over the coming months.
In the grand scheme of things, Chrome OS is hardly a major player from a desktop market share perspective -- for now. With that said, the Linux-based operating system has captured the hearts and minds of many consumers. It has matured quite a bit too, becoming a viable Windows alternative for home users. Actually, it is a great choice for some businesses too -- depending on needs, of course.
Today, Google announces the latest business-focused laptop running its desktop operating system -- the HP Chromebook 13. Not only is this Chrome OS laptop powerful, affordable, and beautiful, but very secure too. It can be argued that it is safer than a Windows notebook.