HP recently unveiled its Chromebook 11a at a starting price of Rs 21,999. As the name suggests, this is not a Windows PC, but a computer that runs on Google‘s Chrome OS. At this price point it seems like an appealing option. But what are Chromebooks? Should you buy one if you are working on a tight budget? Here’s what you need to know before choosing a budget laptop:
What is a Chromebook?
While Chromebooks have been around for nearly 10 years, they haven’t really become mainstream – especially in India. Later, however, things have changed for the better. Chromebooks are affordable laptops that run on Google’s Chrome OS. One of the key differentiators between a laptop and a Chromebook is that it relies heavily on apps rather than software found in laptops.
What is the Chromebook about and how does it differ from traditional laptops?
The Chrome OS is the heart and soul of a Chromebook. Based on Linux, it uses Google Chrome basically doing anything. Think Chrome on an Android phone and expand its functionality in the form factor of a laptop. You get a file manager, app launcher, and web-based apps. You can stream from popular OTT services and use all of Google’s services and apps. What you also get is the Google Play Store, which you can use to download all of the Android apps – if you feel like there is no software on the computer.
A key difference between a laptop and a Chromebook is that you cannot install certain software in any form. For example, some of the Adobe software does not work on Chromebooks. If you want to do heavy pro-level work, the Chromebook’s hardware will let you down. A laptop can be customized to different specs – something you can’t do with a Chromebook.
Who is the ideal Chromebook buyer?
If you’re in the market for an inexpensive laptop, say under Rs 30,000, the Chromebook is an interesting buy. For starters, it’s much faster than a laptop in the same price range thanks to Chrome OS. For those looking to buy laptops for online classes for kids, the Chromebook is a very good option. They don’t cost much and will do pretty much anything the “casual” PC user would want their devices to do. People who are Android users and don’t want to experience another new user interface will find that Chromebooks are quite easy to use.
Who Isn’t the Right Buyer for a Chromebook?
Gamers, professionals, and buyers looking for high-end specs in a MacBook or premium Windows laptop. The Chromebook is not intended for people who edit videos, use graphics-intensive software and programs. While there are high-end Chromebooks – but not many in India – traditional laptops are still a better choice.
What should you consider before buying a budget laptop or Chromebook?
Remember, Chromebooks are known for their battery life. Chromebooks also offer numerous connectivity options in terms of ports. A Windows PC under Rs 30,000 means you have to compromise on one factor or the other – either the R.A.M. will be less or memory or the processor will not be snappy. Chromebook is better value for money than most Windows laptops under Rs 25,000.
For some Chromebooks, this seems like a new learning curve, and for them the tried and true Windows is a better option. Note that a traditional laptop – especially premium laptops – is always ahead of Chromebooks when it comes to a complete package. However, if the budget is limited, the Chromebook can be a reliable and easy-to-use option for first-time laptop buyers.