Traditional Laptop or Chromebook?

Photo via Google.

Photo via Google.

It’s time to buy a new laptop for work or home, but you only have so much to spend. The new computers running Google’s ChromeOS can be tempting – until you look at some of the features. Then again, a traditional laptop can have all the features you want (and then some) but carry a bigger price tag.

Which to choose? Let’s take a closer look.

Designed as a low-cost alternative to Windows and Apple laptops, Chromebooks can cost as little as $200. That’s unheard of in the laptop world! Chromebooks run ChromeOS, which is an operating system based on Google’s Chrome web browsers. That’s right – the operating system is based on a browser.

That kind of operating system gets you a computer that runs smoothly and simply and boots up quickly. You won’t really need to worry about the malware and viruses that plague Windows computers, and you won’t have to stress about updating your operating system or software.

They way we see it, there are two main disadvantages to the Chromebook for business users:

You can’t run traditional software like Microsoft Office, Photoshop, or PC games. The Chromebook is app-based – Google’s own suite of office software is available as are other productivity and entertainment  applications. You download them to your computer the same way you download apps to your phone or tablet. For personal users, these apps may be enough. Business users, however, might find this challenging. You can’t install software onto the computer like you can a traditional PC. If you’re not using the advanced functions of Office software like Excel, PowerPoint, or Word, you may be OK with a Chromebook. But, if you’re a power user or use Access, you’re not going to be happy.

Chromebooks are best when they’re online. With a few exceptions, the apps on a Chromebook will not work unless you’re online. There’s little local storage space on the computer, meaning most of your documents will be stored in the cloud – probably at Google Drive. That said, it’s hard to completely call needing an Internet connection a disadvantage. Think of how you use your computer – how often do you need to do things totally offline? When was the last time you took your computer off the Internet altogether? We’re going to hazard a guess and say it’s been a while.

Which to choose?

For home users who spend most of their time online browsing the web, checking email, using social media, and shopping, a Chromebook might be the perfect computer. The computer is easy to set up – especially if you already use Google for email, calendar, or document creation. And you can find enough substitute apps – for Photoshop, for example – to replace the traditional software you’ve been using.

Business users will need to consider how they and their employees use their computers. Are you advanced users of the Microsoft Office suite of software? Do you need high-end graphics ability for photos and video? (Graphics processing power is better on a laptop than on a Chromebook.) Do you need to access files and software programs offline? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, a traditional laptop may be the right choice for you.

Shopping for new computers? No matter which direction you’re headed in – or if you still have questions – PNSolutions is here to help. We can assess your needs and make recommendations specific to your business and its needs. Contact us today!

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