Laptop Vs Chromebook: Battery Life
When Chromebooks first hit the market, they were almost universally lauded for epic battery life across the board, especially in comparison to their PC and Mac counterparts. As time has passed, the playing field has evened out a bit.
So, I compared our battery test scores from our top 5 PC and Mac laptops against the top 5 Chromebooks, and found that they’re closer than you might have thought.
The PC and Mac laptop battery test scores average out to 10 hours and 2 minutes, less than an hour under the 10:53 battery test average from the top Chromebooks. While this is a win for the Chromebook set, the longest lasting models across both categories are also similar, with the Lenovo Chromebook Duet posting a time of 12:47 and the Dell XPS 13 hot on its tail, at 12:39. The new MacBook Air landed an OK time of 9:31.
The shortest PC time came from the 4K Dell XPS 15 , while the Acer Chromebook R11 had the lowest score of the Chromebook set, at 9:38. While Chromebooks have a slight edge in some comparisons, you can now get pretty strong battery life from a variety of mainstream laptops in every category.
Who Are Chromebooks For
Chromebooks are designed with a few specific people in mind. At the forefront are students, as school administrations tend to favor Chromebooks due to their security benefits, sturdy build quality, and software limitations. That means youll find cheap Chromebooks in public schools all across the country.
Chromebooks go beyond just cheap, plastic laptops for kids. There are also higher-end options for professionals and college students. Because they tend to be lightweight with long battery life, they are great options for people who need to take their work on the go, whether thats from class to class or on long flights. Some of these include the Google Pixelbook, , and the Asus Chromebook Flip C436.
There are certainly those same options in the Windows 10 laptop world. However, in the cheaper price range, Chromebooks can sometimes provide a better value. For example, approximately $500 is where Chromebooks thrive, but Windows 10 laptops at this price tend to get bogged down with a thick chassis and clunky performance.
Why A Chromebook Isn’t The Same Thing As A Budget Laptop
They may look the same, but a laptop and a Chromebook are more different than you might expect.
If your MacBook or Windows laptop is on its last legs, you may find yourself tempted to replace it with a Chromebook. But whether you’re attracted to the lower price or simplicity of use, it’s worth making sure it’ll meet your needs before you hand over your money.
I primarily use a MacBook Pro but have an Asus ZenBook Flip to scratch my Windows 10 itch, and I recently started using a Toshiba Chromebook 2. Each machine has its strengths and weaknesses, but I find I’m using the Chromebook more and more. Then again, I spend most of my time on my MacBook using Chrome and Google Docs so a Chromebook was a natural fit for me. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.
No matter the ways in which you use a laptop, there are areas where a Chromebook differs from a traditional laptop and areas where they aren’t so different. Let’s have a look.
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Laptop Vs Chromebook: Gaming
This round feels like putting Mario up against a mere Goomba. Windows 10, especially with access to top storefronts like Steam and the rising Xbox Game Pass, is continuing to play a significant role in gaming. Even Apple is dipping its toe in gaming with Apple Arcade, which works on macOS, though that hasn’t been the home run that the Cupertino company probably wants it to be. Many high-profile games work on Macs, and the Steam store is there too.
In contrast, Chromebooks have well, they have Android games. As someone who once wrote a “best Android games for Chromebooks” list, let me tell you that I would personally never give a Chromebook to a kid who wants to game. It’s like pulling an old NES out of the closet when someone starts asking about the upcoming PS5. You can play Android games on Chromebooks, but few if any are actually designed and customized for the larger screen, as most are still written for phones. That means your Chromebook better have a touch screen and rotate into tablet mode, which is still far from ideal.
Buying Notebook Vs Chromebook Which Is The Better Choice
When you decide to buy a convenient, lightweight laptop computer then you need to consider the type of operating system you would require, the overall versatility of the computer to make your tasks more efficient, etc.
In essence, a Notebook and Chromebook are both laptops that can replace the desktop computer for everyday tasks . These are more advantageous than a conventional desktop PC because of their incredibly lightweight, smaller size and their portable design.
However, there are some significant differences between a Notebook and a Chromebook, such as:
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Is A Chromebook Or Laptop Best
Buying a device mostly depends on needs, and this applies to whether a Chromebook or Laptop is best for an individual user. For tasks that can be done within a browser, such as sending emails, editing a document, typing a blog post, writing assignments, online learning, video/voice meetings, or even playing games over the internet, a Chromebook is going to be sufficient. Chromebooks are also great devices for those on a tight budget or require an inexpensive device as a backup. Great battery life is also a common feature of a Chromebook and it is not uncommon to find even those priced between $200 and $300 boasting daily battery usage that crosses ten hours. This makes Chromebooks a great option for students in general.
However, for those often using special software or programs for work that do not need an internet connection and require more processing power, or those in need of a large amount of local storage on their device, then a laptop is likely to be the better option. While all of the tasks a Chromebook can handle can also be performed by a laptop, the entry barrier for a good laptop is higher than that of a Chromebook. This is particularly the case if in need of a 2-in-1 form factor or longer battery life, features that are commonly available even on budget Chromebooks.
Chromebook: Play Store Apps
On a Chromebook, you can’t install programs like on other laptops. You only use internet applications from the Chrome Web Store and work with these in the Chrome internet browser. Think of text editor Google Docs or Google Slides, an alternative to PowerPoint. You can also install Android applications from the Google Play Store. If you’re a Microsoft Office enthusiast, you can install the Office 365 Android application. As a gamer, you can now use Google Stadia, which allows you to play and stream the latest games on your Chromebook, even in 4K.
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Advantages Of A Laptop
Compared to a Chromebook, a laptop has these advantages:
- Flexibility: A laptop with a full PC operating system, optical drive, and multiple slots and ports will always be more flexible than a Chromebook, which has a relatively limited user interface, fewer port types, and relies more on remote applications and services .
- Advanced software: Virtually every software program — photo editors, spreadsheets, word processors, games — can run on a laptop, whereas some software makers have yet to release Chrome-compatible versions of their programs. NOTE: Some newer Chromebooks can run Android apps, which could, over time, help them catch up to laptops, software-wise.
- Processor speed: Laptops typically have faster clock speeds than Chromebooks, as even small models have frame designs that can contain the latest processors, additional RAM, etc. Chromebooks aren’t slow, by any means. But laptops can do more at once.
- Business use: Most analysts give laptops the edge for business, particularly those with multi-core, multi-thread CPUs and better multi-tasking. A Chomebook’s suitability for business increases for frequently mobile users who put extra value on portability, especially if it’s at a lower cost.
- Offline time: Laptop users can stay relatively productive even when beyond the range of their home or office wireless, whereas the Chromebook’s “connected-for-everything” approach could make it hard to complete some tasks when out-of-range.
What Can A Chromebook Do
Chromebooks ship with their own operating system called Chrome OS, which is based on Linux and uses the Chrome browser as an interface. It has basic computing elements, such as a file manager and an app launcher, but most of what you use are web-based apps that require no downloading.
That might sound limiting at first, but many popular apps already offer web-based versions like Spotify, Netflix, Slack, and Evernote. Due to the prevalence of web applications, many people spend the majority of their time in a web browser anyway. If your typical workflow resembles this scenario, transitioning to a Chromebook will be relatively smooth. Just connect to Wi-Fi and proceed with your browsing as normal.
However, with the addition of the Google Play Store, you can also download Android apps to fill in any software gaps. Their implementation in a laptop setting might be a little funky in some cases some expand full-screen while others remain locked in smartphone screen mode but Android apps are available if you really need them.
Chromebooks also support Linux software. If you absolutely need desktop applications, setting up Linux is certainly an option. There are Linux versions of Audacity, Firefox, GIMP, OBS Studio, Steam, VirtualBox, and many more, but your favorite application may not offer a Linux-based variant. Check the developers website first before ruling out a Chromebook.
Laptops Vs Chromebooks: Hardware Head
Because running a web browser and apps is not particularly strenuous, Chromebooks usually dont include high-end components. Additionally, the fact that theyre built for simpler workloads means theyre often targeted more at young users, students, or less tech-savvy users who just need to access the web. Both of these factors mean that, generally speaking, the prices for Chromebooks are lower than for many computers based on Windows or macOS.
An important thing to note: The use of Googles OS doesnt mean that all Chromebooks are made by Google. In the same way that Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and other PC makers create their own laptops that run Microsofts Windows operating system, many of these same major manufacturers produce Chromebooks that utilize Chrome OS. Like other laptops, they come in different shapes and sizes, and you can find hybrid 2-in-1 Chromebooks, as well.
To get more specific about the component differences, let’s run through them one by one.
PROCESSORS. Chromebooks employ low-power processors that suit the less-straining jobs theyre meant for. Right now, in inexpensive Chromebooks, these CPUs are most often Intel Celeron chips, though you will run across some Pentium processors, which are a step up from Celeron, and Intel Core i3 and Core i5 processors. You may also run across the occasional AMD-based Chromebook, but these are less common and are low-power options in their current iterations.
Can School Laptops See You
The surveillance technology currently in use includes software to scan students social media posts, cameras with facial recognition and other scanning capabilities, and microphones to detect aggression. Schools can even track you on devices that they dont control: if you have to download a certain kind of security
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What Is A Good Chromebook
Several years ago, all Chromebooks were pretty much the same regardless of what company made them. Now, there’s a far greater variety of laptops and two-in-ones — convertibles and tablets — to take advantage of Chrome OS’s current capabilities. You’ll still find more sizes and styles when it comes to Windows laptops, especially if you need top processing and graphics performance, but the variety of options is much better than in the past.
If you’re just after a good, basic experience with a Chromebook, the small, lightweight OS has minimal hardware requirements and the same goes for web apps. Having a faster, higher-end processor, more memory and greater storage for files and apps will help keep demanding multitaskers moving along, but otherwise here’s what I recommend when I’m asked what basic specs to look for:
- Intel Celeron or Core i-series, AMD Ryzen or MediaTek processors
- 4GB of memory or more
- 64GB of storage
- Full HD display
Regardless of what Chromebook you buy, before you buy it you should find out the device’s Auto Update Expiration date, or AUE. Currently, non-Google hardware is only supported for so long before it stops receiving Chrome OS and browser updates, including those for security. For models released in 2020, the date is roughly 7 to 8 years from the initial release of the device, but that’s not always the case. and you should check it before you buy a Chromebook, new or used.
Make Your Apps Open Like Installed Programs
As you can see above, you can do just about anything with web apps. But to make them truly practical, you have to ensure they dont open in browser tabs. Otherwise youll end up with dozens if not hundreds of tabs open, and youll never be able to find the one you want.
Instead, you need to set them up to open in their own dedicated window, like installed programs.
E.g. Like this:
Rather than like this:
To set your web apps to open like this:
You can then easily switch to the app by clicking its icon in your taskbar, rather than digging through all your open browser tabs to find it. And if you close the app, its icon will remain in your taskbar, and you can just click it to re-open the app.
I strongly recommend you do this for all the web apps you use a lot.
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How It Handles Your Printer
You can’t just connect a Chromebook to a USB printer and start printing. Among the many things you can’t download and install on a Chrome are printer drivers, so you must route your print jobs over the web using . You’ll need a cloud-ready printer that can connect directly to the web, or you can use a classic printer connected to a Windows computer or Mac.
To sum up, a Chromebook has a budget Windows laptop look, it may not run all of your favorite apps, doesn’t offer a much in the way of local storage and can be a bit tricky if you own an older printer.
But don’t write off the Chromebook. It runs a lean OS, so it works well with low-end parts. My Toshiba Chromebook 2 feels snappy with its Intel Celeron processor and 4GB of RAM, and its battery lasts roughly 7 to 8 hours on a single charge under normal use.
But, really, I like it best because it doesn’t spring updates on me at the least convenient of times. Without needing to power and constantly update a more complicated, wide-ranging OS, my Chromebook just works it’s always on and ready to go whenever I need it.
Chrome Os Makes It Easy To Move To New Hardware
Want a nightmare? Try migrating from an old Windows PC to a new one. Even if you’re jumping from Windows 10 to Windows 10, there are no easy ways to do it. If you have a Microsoft account, rather than a local account, you must manually move your local files from third-party programs such as Photoshop
On Chrome OS, you log in to your new Chromebook and — ta-da! — you’re back in business. No fuss, no muss.
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Chrome Os Is More Stable Than Windows 10
WIndows, especially lately, has been prone to one update problem after another. The latest example: Microsoft broke Visual Basic programs for many users. I mean, how do you break the Visual Basic 6 code? The language has been part and parcel of the Microsoft family since 1998!
Windows updates have become a nightmare over the past few years. Today, Windows users hold off for as long as possible before “updating” their PCs. Chrome OS users, on the other hand, have their systems updated every six weeks without a hitch. And, I might add, these updates take a minute or two instead of an hour or two.
Chrome OS is also more secure than Windows. WIndows security violations pop up every blessed month. Sure, Chrome OS has had security holes, but I can’t think of one that’s been significantly exploited.
The Apps It Runs And The Way It Runs Apps
Google offers a few familiar touches so that Windows converts will feel comfortable with the operating system, but the similarities stop when you open an application. Most Chromebook apps launch as a new tab in Chrome. A handful — Files, Get Help and Chrome Remote Desktop — open in a separate window.
Unlike Mac OS Sierra and Windows 10, Chrome OS uses only web apps and won’t let you download applications. This means no Photoshop, Skype, iTunes or any other non-Chrome apps you might use.
You can find alternatives in the Chrome Web Store, including online versions from Microsoft itself. You can use Word, Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint and others. And Chrome’s native Google Docs and Sheets can handle Word and Excel files.
Despite relying on web apps, you don’t need internet access to run a Chromebook. You can edit Google Docs offline and watch movies and shows on Google Play offline. You may not be able to download more than one movie at a time, but a Chromebook can get you through a flight on a Wi-Fi-less plane.
Google’s Android and Chromebook divisions have also teamed up to bring Android apps to Chromebooks, in a process that began earlier this year. Not all Chromebooks have touchscreens, so you may need to get used to controlling Android action with a keyboard and touchpad rather than tapping and swiping on a screen.
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