Whats The Difference Between A Chromebook And A Windows Pc
Though you probably already know what differentiates a Windows PC from a Chromebook, heres a brief refresher: Windows PCs run Microsoft Windows 10 , the dominant operating system for traditional PCs for more than 25 years. They run Windows applications, from Microsoft titles to a raft of third-party software. Windows PCs are available in desktop and laptop forms, and can be configured in infinite ways to accommodate needs from basic productivity to resource-intensive workstations.
Preston Gralla / IDG
The Start menu is command central for Windows 10.
Chromebooks are much simpler. They run Chrome OS, essentially a Chrome web browser vehicle, and are often priced several hundred dollars less than a Windows PC. The newest Chromebooks contain a bonus, however: the ability to run some Android apps . Another perk: the ability to run Linuxnot something that most users will care about, but a useful niche addition. Chromebooks may be cheap, but theyre surprisingly flexible.
In a Chromebook, many of the apps reside below the taskbar.
Microsoft Cortana runs within Windows, but the Google Assistant is only in Googles own Pixelbook devices.
Inside, the only real differences are the processor. Windows PCs have a wide range of microprocessors powering them, usually chips from AMD and Intel, or more recently, a Qualcomm Snapdragon.
Though the Chrome OS Files app within Chromebooks is a little rougher than Windows, its been designed with cloud storage from the beginning.
Reasons You Should Choose A Chromebook Over A Windows Laptop
Find out the different reasons why Chromebooks serve as the smarter choice over a traditional Windows laptop. Has Chrome OS taken over?
Find as many smart reasons to choose Chromebooks over a Windows laptop. Go as deep as possible, covering everything from price and build quality to operating system differences, gaming, even Android compatibility, battery, etc.
Chromebooks have become a true force to be reckoned with. Now the Chromebooks vs. Windows argument has taken a new spin. In todays world, choosing a Chromebook over a Windows laptop is the smarter decision.
Laptop Vs Chromebook: Which Type Of Budget Pc Is Right For You
Chromebooks are inexpensive and easy to use, but not all Windows or macOS users can make the switch. With various types of users in mind, we compare traditional laptops and Chromebooks on price, power, features, and more.
If youre in need of a reasonably priced laptop, particularly if youre shopping for a student ready to go back to school, a whole heap of important factors go into that buying decision. Among Windows and Apple laptops, myriad options unfold before you, once you start looking at different brands, widely ranging screen sizes, and clamshell laptops versus convertible 2-in-1s. But in 2020, you may not need a Windows or macOS laptop at all.
Why? Chromebooks. Chromebooks are an affordableand increasingly practicalsolution for everyday computing tasks. But they’re not for everyone. Were going to help you break down the differences between traditional laptops and Chromebooks to see which kind makes more sense for what you, or a student, does every day.
Don’t Miss: How To Shut Down Laptop With Keyboard
Which Can Be Personalized More A Chromebook Or A Pc
Typically, Windows PCs have offered an enormous variety of options to allow you to tweak things as you like, which weve covered in our feature of how to personalize your PC. Most of this is already built into Windows, though there are wallpaper theme packs and even a Bing Wallpaper app to allow further customization.
Chromebooks have generally not offered these capabilities, though theres now an option to personalize your lock screen with either one of your own photos or an image preselected by Google. Music controls are available, too.
Cortana Vs Google Now
In many ways, the new Cortana in Windows 10 is a lot like Google Now in Chrome. Clicking on the Cortana search bar brings up a window with useful information, including the weather, your next calendar appointment and local restaurants to check out. If you have “Hey, Cortana” enabled, you can say that phrase to bring up a window and ask any question you want. I asked, “How do you get from New York City to D.C.?” and Cortana brought up a Bing search-results page with a map of the route between the two cities.
On the flip side, Chrome OS has a similar feature you can enable in Settings, called “OK, Google,” that will let you ask Google Now questions when the Launcher is open or when a blank Chrome tab is open. When asked the same question , Google Now brought up a similar search page in Google with a map of the route. In addition, the voice assistant spoke to me, saying it takes 4 hours and 9 minutes to get to Washington, D.C., from Manhattan with light traffic. Google Now tends to speak more than Cortana does, audibly giving you related information about what you initially searched for.
However, Cortana does a lot more than Google Now. For instance, you can perform natural-language searches for files on your laptop, dictate emails, book appointments and, yes, tell jokes. If you’re lucky enough to own a Chromebook that supports Google Assistant the Pixelbook is the only one we’ve seen so far though, you’ve got a virtual helper that can keep pace with Cortana.
You May Like: Shutdown Pc With Keyboard
The Case For Windows 10
If you’re prepared to spend $500 or more on a new laptop, you should definitely go Windows over Chrome. As nice as the Google Pixelbook’s hardware is, pricing it close to the Surface Laptop means you should just buy a Windows laptop instead.
Chrome OS has a lot to offer, but if you’re a power user looking for a capable laptop, then Chrome OS today falls far short of your needs. Running Microsoft Office is one thing, but creatives working with photos and video, gamers, or anyone who needs any kind of serious computing power will be out of luck with a Chromebook.
The very nature of the OS means that for anything serious, Windows will always be better. Legacy apps, web apps, Microsoft Store apps, there’s no limitation to a Windows laptop, and even a budget one can access all of these. The platform on offer with Windows 10 and the power at the higher end is unmatched by any Chromebook.
Why There’s No Good Reason To Buy A Chromebook
Why are Chromebooks not selling, except to school districts? The better question might be why would anyone buy a Chromebook when they do so little? Microsoft takes an utterly different and more useful approach.
This is a great era for computer consumers. It’s an era of bold experimentation in product design. Many different vendors are taking many different approaches to grab the consumer.
Some of these ideas are great ones and some of them are stupid and useless. I like to think of them in terms of how much they can do, or how practical they are to use for a wide variety of tasks. With that in mind, here’s how I see the market for mobile computers :
In the diagram you can see a philosophy I’ve held ever since the iPad came out: Tablets do some cool and useful things, but they are far from being laptop replacements. I do a lot of typing and it just can’t be done on glass. There are some great third-party keyboards for the iPad and other tablets from Zagg, Logitech and others, but they just don’t work as well.
The diagram makes the point that Microsoft is taking a very different approach than Google, especially with regard to hybrid tablet/laptop devices like the Surface. You can see it in their ads about how “the new Surface with Windows gives you one experience for everything in your life.”
Recommended Reading: How To Enable Wireless On Hp Laptop
Chromebooks Run Far More Than Just Chrome Os
Although Google dropped its effort to dual-boot Windows in Chromebooks, also known as Project Campfire, you can still run Android applications and Linux programs on modern Chromebooks. And thanks to CrossOver Chrome OS, you can run some Windows programs on Chrome OS.
Chromebooks are the most versatile laptops around these days.
Are Chromebooks right for everyone? No. For some people, Windows and MacOS machines are still the best.
But, for most people, a Chromebook is ideal.
If you want a laptop that does all the bread-and-butter internet and office work, get a Chromebook. If you have a friend or relative who needs a safer machine, give them a Chromebook. If you need a flexible system that can juggle Android, Linux, the web, and a bit of Windows, get a Chromebook. You’ll be glad you did.
Chromebooks Are Not Best Suited To Gaming
If youre into gaming or at least playing the latest games then a Chromebook probably wont be the best option for you, because they generally arent powerful enough to cope with the graphical and computational demands of modern games.
That said, because some Chromebooks allow you to run Android apps, you do have some options when it comes to Android games. Laptop Mag has a good rundown of some good Android gaming options here.
Don’t Miss: How Much Does It Cost To Lease A Laptop
Chromebooks Vs Laptops For Professionals
We hesitate to recommend a Chromebook over a laptop for most professionals as a one-off purchase. Because Chromebooks dont need much power, and to keep the cost down, those entry-level internal components will make business tasks more difficult.
There are definitely some jobs where you could get away with a Chromebook . But you could run across some small issues with a few tasks and IT requirements. We’d run with the kind of laptop that your IT team recommends and supports. That said, HP and Dell have started to offer Chromebooks for business enterprises.
In addition, the much wider array of software available on Windows or macOS may simply make a Chromebook a non-starter for some professionals. You cant install proprietary programs your job may provide , nor any serious-strength media-creation or -editing programs, as you are able to on other laptops. Youre limited to websites and the much more simplistic options on the Google Play store, which will cramp the style of many business users, artists, and others.
How To Turn A Laptop Into A Chromebook
Interestingly, you dont necessarily to buy a Chromebook to get one!
If you have an old laptop that is struggling to run the latest version of Windows or Mac OS, you might find that repurposing it as a Chromebook gives it a new lease of life and turns it back into a really useful machine.
This can be done by downloading Chromium OS and installing it on your old machine.
Chromium OS makes much lighter demands on your computer than traditional desktop operating systems, and accordingly can turn a sluggish computer into one that boots up quickly and works perfectly fine as a tool for web browsing, consuming content or working in the cloud.
If this sounds of interest, you should check out Android Centrals guide on how to install Chromium OS on your computer.
Read Also: How To Screen Record On A Hp Computer
Five Reasons Chromebooks Are Better Than Windows Laptops
Windows is great for some things, but for many users, a Chromebook is better.
When one of my compadres recently wrote that a Best Buy salesperson assured him Windows laptops were better than Chromebooks, I was reminded of that old joke: “What’s the difference between a computer salesman and a used car salesman? The used car salesman knows when he’s lying.”
Now, there are Best Buy people who know their stuff, and there are Windows users who should stick with Windows. If, for example, you live and die by one or two native Windows applications, there’s no point in even considering going elsewhere. And, if you’re a die-hard Windows gamer, Best Buy will be happy to sell you a top-of-the-line Alienware gaming PC.
But there are also many good reasons to use Chromebooks. Here are the top reasons.
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.
Read Also: Ebooks On Laptop
How Much Storage Should You Get
One of the big advantages of Chrome OS is its Google Drive integration, which makes storing documents and files to the cloud much easier and without any extensive setup.
You can even have your Chromebook automatically save everything to your linked Drive account so you’ll never really have to worry about losing a document or file again.
This also means that most Chromebooks don’t prioritize storage capacity, so it’s not unusual to see 128GB or even 64GB of eMMC storage on lower-end models, which is essentially just an internal USB flash drive plugged directly into the Chromebook’s motherboard.
This kind of memory isn’t particularly fast and it fills up quick if you’re not paying attention to the size of the apps you’re downloading from the Google Play store or you’re taking a lot of high definition photos and videos on your phone and syncing this data to the same Google Drive account used by the Chromebook.
You do have some control over what you sync and copy over from Google Drive to your local storage, so if you’re fine with managing your cloud storage account and downloading things as you need them, then this much lower storage capacity might be perfectly workable.
Many midrange Chromebook models and definitely those at the higher end of the price spectrum are definitely going to have more storage available, often going as high as 1TB, which for a Chromebook is more space than just about anyone is ever really going to need.
Why You Should/shouldn’t Buy A Chromebook & Best Models
Chromebooks offer a lower price point and an ultra portable profile, but are they right for you or should you stick with a regular laptop?
If you need a new laptop this year, you may be tempted to pick up a Chromebook but is a Chromebook right for you? A Chromebook has a lot more in common with your tablet or mobile phone than it does with a laptop. Even though their functionality is limited when compared to a full-fledged laptop, you may be able to save hundreds by choosing one.
Given how ubiquitous they are, you are probably already familiar with what a laptop is. They are fully-powered computers with a keyboard and mouse touchpad. They can run any mainstream operating system such as Windows, OS X, or Linux. They can surf the web and run all sorts of programs and apps. Some are even capable of running high-end games. Unfortunately, with great power and flexibility comes great cost. The latest laptops from manufacturers like Dell, HP, and Apple, typically start around the $500 mark and prices can quickly surpass $2,000.
Recommended Reading: How To Delete Account From Dell Laptop
How Fastdo I Need A Chromebook To Be
Buying a laptop is relatively easy: simply look for anup-to-date AMD or Intel processor, and look for the lowest price.But Chromebooks can have a variety of low-end microprocessors tochoose from, some of which you may have never heard of.
PCWorld’s Alaina Yee recommends buying a Chromebook with a Pentiumor Celeron processorand that’s a good place to start if you don’tfeel comfortable parsing Chromebook specifications. Anything morepowerful than that, like an Intel Core chip, is just fine too.
So Should I Buy A Laptop Or A Chromebook
The answer to this ultimately boils down to your needs and workload. For serious professional use, a laptop is almost always better, but some folks could get away with just a Chromebook for work. Anyone who primarily does word processing and e-mail communication for work could do these tasks on a Chrome OS browser. That said: More so than laptops, Chromebooks lose a big chunk of their productivity potential if youre without access to the web, so even though many services have an offline mode, keep that in mind.
One wild card, though, is actually Microsoft, and your reliance on itor non-reliance. The entire Microsoft Office suite is , which takes the potential of Chromebook productivity much closer to that of other laptops. For many students and workers, Microsoft Office is the be-all and end-all in terms of what they need from a computer. So now, with a Chromebook, your bases are covered for potentially much less than the cost of a $500-to-$1,000 Windows or macOS laptop.
You May Like: Win 10 Shutdown Shortcut