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  • Writer's pictureTara Grey

Is a Chromebook the Same Thing as a Laptop Computer?

When you go shopping for laptops at your local Best Buy or online at Amazon, you’re likely to run across a brand that seems to be too good to be true. With prices starting as low as $219, you can get these for a fraction of the cost of other laptops.

I’m talking about the Chromebook brand, and there’s a reason that Chromebooks are so cheap when compared to other laptop computers, such as HPs, MacBooks, Dells, or even the budget brand Acer.

But if you haven’t done enough PC research and aren’t fully aware of the differences between laptops and Chromebooks, you can end up with a new computer that is severely lacking in what you need.

Chromebooks and other types of computers have some big differences, and it’s vital to know what they are before you buy one for yourself or as a gift for a child or grandchild.

Chromebook vs Other Laptop Computers

Operating System

When you buy just about any laptop (HP, Dell, etc.), it will come with the Windows operating system. If you buy a MacBook, then it’s going to come with macOS as the operating system.

Most likely you’re familiar with one or the other. The operating system allows you to:

  • Install and run software

  • Set up the interface to look the way you like (background, etc.)

  • Access your files and folders on the hard drive

  • And much more

A change in an operating system, such as when Apple or Microsoft do a major version release, can completely change the way your computer looks.

Changing from one operating system to another can feel like you’re on an alien planet!

Chromebook does not use either Windows or macOS, it uses a completely different operating system called Chrome (the same name as Google’s browser). There’s a reason for that. The operating system is very basic and expects you to access just about everything via the cloud.

You Can’t Install Most Software on a Chromebook

One reason for the low price tag is that a Chromebook is not designed for installing software, like other types of computers.

So, if you use Office 365 and like to install Word, Excel, etc. on your computer, you can’t do it if you use a Chromebook.

Instead, you would have to access the web-based versions of the Office apps through a browser. Or if you used the Mac programs, Numbers and Pages, it’s the same thing, you’d only be able to access the online versions.

You basically can’t install Windows or Mac programs on a Chromebook. This is a huge downside and one of the biggest reasons a person might want to avoid this type of laptop.

You Can’t Do Much Offline

Because Chromebooks are designed for the user to do just about everything online in a browser, you can’t do much with them offline.

If you have a MacBook or Windows laptop, you can still work in applications and see your photos stored on your hard drive if you don’t have an internet connection, but that’s not the case with Chromebook.

It’s Simpler & More Streamlined

On the plus side, if you’re just looking for something as easy to use as possible and you don’t need to install any software, then Chromebook is going to give you that simple interface.

There are fewer settings and apps to deal with. The ones it does have are mainly a conduit for going online and accessing cloud tools and websites.

Chromebooks are often used by schools for students because of their simplicity. This would be a bonus and offer an inexpensive alternative for someone that does everything online when on their computer, such as visiting social media sites, online shopping, online banking, and using cloud apps.

Hard Drive Storage

The space you have on your computer to store files and photos is another big difference. Because Chromebooks are not designed to have a bunch of software downloaded and stored, they typically have much less hard drive space than traditional laptops.

This is another reason for their low price.

Typical hard drive storage:

  • Windows Laptops/MacBooks: 500GB to 1TB

  • Chromebook: 32GB to 128GB

So, you have roughly 1462% less storage space on a Chromebook than another type of laptop.

Should You Buy a Chromebook or Traditional Laptop?

The way you use your laptop will dictate whether a Chromebook is right for you. It’s not something you’d want to purchase for someone else without knowing if they’d want one first.

You Might Like a Chromebook If:

  • You’re a casual computer user.

  • You don’t really work in applications on your laptop.

  • You need something cheap to take on vacation to go online.

  • You mainly use your computer for online browsing, social media, online shopping, streaming entertainment, and other cloud-based activities.

You Should Stick with a Windows or Apple Laptop if:

  • You like to work offline sometimes.

  • You work in specific programs, like photo editing, Word, etc.

  • You don’t want to have to learn a new operating system.

  • You need to have plenty of hard drive space for storage.

  • You don’t want to store all your photos, videos, and files in the cloud.

Get Expert Help Learning a New Computer or Software

CompuTara offers expert computer tutoring to learn a new computer or new software and can even help with migrating all your files from an old computer to a new one.

Schedule a computer tutoring session today! Call or text me at: 862-368-4893 or Email me here.


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