Tech

The difference between a Chromebook and a laptop

Similar but different.

Choosing between a traditional laptop or a Chromebook? There are a few key differences you should know about, and which one is better basically depends on your individual needs. Read on to make an informed decision about what machine works best for you.

What is a Chromebook?

Let’s start with what a Chromebook actually is; a laptop equipped with the Google Chrome operating system. Chrome OS is built around Google’s Chrome browser, which means it operates from the web. This is a fundamental difference from competing operating systems like Windows or MacOS, which run fully on the computer, not from the web.

What do you do if you don’t have an internet connection? Well for a long time, the answer was ¯_(ツ)_/¯. But over the past few years, Google has improved its offline capabilities, including adding its android app store Google Play which offers many apps with offline options like Spotify and Google Podcasts.

Software

Unlike laptops, Chromebooks aren’t natively compatible with MacOS or Windows. While there is a way to run Windows software like Microsoft Office through the android store online, that’s not really what the Chromebook was built for. And that’s kind of the whole point; Chromebooks are designed to be connected to the internet and rely on Google’s cloud-based apps. In case you should need it, Google Workspace has you covered with its office tools like Google Docs and Google Sheets.

The difference between laptops and Chromebooks might be the most significant for professionals who regularly use photo/video editing software. You can download some Adobe apps through the android store and save your work in Adobe’s cloud storage. But Chromebooks don’t have the local storage and processing power to run programs like Adobe Photoshop. Still, there are some good web-based design platforms like Photopea or Canva that will work on a Chromebook, so your satisfaction may depend on setting realistic performance expectations.

Specs

The Chromebooks for sale on the BestBuy website have a maximum of 256GB storage capacity, 16 GB of memory, and an Intel Core i7 processor. This is compared to the laptops which have up to 2,000GB of storage, 64GB of memory, and the top-of-the-line Intel Xeon processor. All this is to say that when it comes to storage and power, Chromebooks can’t compete with laptops. But for average use, the Chromebook’s specs are perfectly suitable. Plus, what the Chromebook lacks in performance, it makes up for in price.

Price

Chromebooks are generally less expensive than traditional laptops because they don’t have as much hardware. A decent Chromebook can go for less than $200, whereas a good laptop might cost you at least $500. If you’re using a Chromebook for its intended purpose, which is simple, easy, cloud-based computing, that’s pretty good value. This also means that they are more portable and lightweight compared to most other laptops. Which can come in pretty handy when you’re traveling.

Bottom line? Chromebooks are fast, easy to use, and inexpensive, as long as you have a good internet connection to enjoy their full potential. Laptops have more storage, processing power, and compatibility, but can be expensive, or too much computer, when all you need is a browser.

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