This past Thanksgiving, my family and I were talking about how I use a Chromebook and they were asking whether they should consider getting one for themselves or their kids. Courtney (my girlfriend) and I both gave resounding “yeses.”
I’ve been using 2 computers primarily for the past 3 years – a mac mini and a chromebook. Of the time I’m on the computer, which is quite a bit given my line of work, I’d say I’m on the chomebook 75-90% of the time. Aside from major desktop apps that I need for graphics design (Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop), all my computing needs can be met on this lightweight machine.
What’s a Chromebook
The question I get asked most is, understandably, “What is it?” Most people have heard of Google Chrome, Google’s browser which was released in late 2008. 1 It was lean and fast, free, and as of this month, Statcounter estimates that it now holds a 58% share of all desktop browser use. 2 The Chrome browser is installed on Chromebooks, but the underlying operating system (OS) that runs on Chromebooks is called Chrome OS.
A chromebook is a laptop just like any other. Most have one or more USB ports, an SD card reader, HDMI out (like your modern television uses), an LCD screen, a keyboard, and a trackpad. Most are lightweight and have a form factor similar to Apple’s MacAir.
The chromebook you’d need probably costs between $99 and $300, and they’re available online through Amazon or in stores at BestBuy among other online and physical retail outlets.
What About my Desktop Apps?
You can’t install or run any of your usual desktop apps on a chromebook, but you won’t need to. Why? Because as much as you think you use them, you’re going to find that a vast majority of what you do on a computer is in the cloud. Ooh – there’s that nebulous term: “cloud.” The cloud is no big deal. It’s so ubiquitous, we never should have started using the term. When you hear cloud, just think “online.” Email through mail.yahoo.com, remote file storage on Google Drive, journaling your life on Facebook, iCloud backups of your iPhone, and filing taxes online – all of this is cloud computing. You’re doing it already, so don’t fear “the cloud” anymore.
Getting back to your desktop apps – as I said, you don’t use them as much as you think you do, and even if you use them quite a bit, there are cloud alternatives that you should strongly consider because they make life much easier and simpler. Moreover, I think it’s just more secure when you consider the frequency at which Windows-based PCs get infected with viruses and malware.
In the next few weeks, I’m going to publish several articles that discuss the pros of moving over to online apps which your chromebook can handle without breaking a sweat. You’ll see why we’re becoming more and more a cloud-computing world, and why a chromebook is the answer to most of your computing needs.