When Chromebooks first came onto the market in late 2012, they were marketed as a simple device meant to serve a simple function; access the internet through Google’s web browser, Chrome. One and a half years later, looking at the new line of Chromebooks is a significantly more impressive sight to behold. Google is teaming up with Intel to develop a wider array of choices and features so that customers can be sure that these devices will meet their technological needs. With Chromebooks getting rave reviews on Amazon, and being incorporated into many schools as a teaching and learning tool, many want to know what this hype is about. Do these browser-based laptops have the chops to handle the demands of a world that is increasingly demanding on computers?
One of the best features of these devices is the Chrome operating system. Unlike other OS providers, Google updates the Chrome OS every six weeks free of charge, meaning that even older models will continue to improve with these changes. One caveat to this is that models with lower processing speeds and memory may become obsolete over time, but this is a complication that is faced by any personal computer on the market. Constant updates of software also means that these Chrome-powered laptops will always be up-to-date with the apps included, and any glitches or bugs that are found can be resolved in a short period of time.
One of the strongest features of Chromebooks is their price point; with many models retailing at under $400 (including a new desktop model), there is a wealth of variety to choose from, even for those with low budgets. Considering the options that the included and downloadable Google apps provide in terms of video chat, word processing, music, and more, most of a person’s daily computer needs can be met at a more affordable price point than comparable laptops from other OS manufacturers. With options like Google Docs for word processing, Hangouts for video chatting, and access to Netflix and YouTube for video streaming, Google has shown that their Chromebooks really are deserving of all the hype. The accessible pricing has made these a favorite among schools, with almost 10,000 buying them for use in their classrooms. Needing to meet budget restrictions, these affordable-yet-powerful devices are providing a technological boost in education.
While a low cost is always beneficial, some content-heavy webpages and apps demand high processing power to run smoothly, and consumers want to make sure that they will not be sacrificing functionality to save a few dollars. Now that Google and Intel are pairing up for Chromebook development, this concern is already being addressed. Intel’s famous Celeron brand of processors is being used in the manufacture of many Chromebooks, in addition to the more powerful Core i3 processors in the more expensive models. The increase in options for higher storage capacity and RAM afforded by these processors will ensure that games, video chatting, and multitasking will all run smoothly. This functionality is also being boosted by increasing support for offline functions, a problem with early versions. The earliest models used the internet for almost all apps, including word processing and media streaming. However, offline document editing and television viewing is reportedly coming up soon for Chromebook devices. As an added bonus, all of the new models will feature conflict-free microprocessor chips, which do not contain minerals that are obtained through slave labor, which has been a social issue in the Democratic Republic of Congo for some time.
Combining an affordable price with powerful functionality, it is no surprise that Chromebooks are generating such a hype. This diversifying class of laptop computers is growing to incorporate the needs of those who desire more performance from their computers, and even branching out into the desktop market. With schools beginning to adopt these devices as well, there is no telling how widespread Chromebooks will become in the future.
By Joseph Chisarick
Wall Street Journal