8 Chromebook Critiques That Are Total Hokum
Chromebookslaptops running Google’s ChromeOS have been around for more than a decade. In that time, Chromebooks have gone from basic internet devices to excellent laptops for personal or professional use. Their user-friendly nature also makes them a good option for people who are less tech-savvy.
Many negative ideas about Chromebooks have also circulated over the past 10 years, including the fallacy that you can’t use them offline and the devices are underpowered. Some of these criticisms may have been true when Chromebooks were first released, but they have since been fixed or improved.
Here are eight Chromebook misconceptions to ignore when shopping for a new laptop.
1. Chromebooks are underpowered
This is a common misconception that dates back to the Chromebook’s introduction, when it was primarily used for accessing the Internet via the Chrome browser. As more people started using Chromebooks, including for school and business, Google increased the functionality of the operating system and Chromebook manufacturers improved their performance to take advantage of new features. Now, like other laptops, you get what you pay for with a Chromebook.
However, ChromeOS, the Chromebook operating system, still has low hardware requirements. This means that Chromebooks can provide basic functionality for less money. Despite the low hardware requirements, Chromebooks can perform as well as — and in some cases better than — similarly priced Windows laptops.
“New $200 Windows laptops are few and far between and, frankly, rarely worth buying,” CNET’s Joshua Goldman writes. “Finding a good $200 Chromebook, on the other hand, is pretty easy to do…Premium Chromebooks usually start between $400 and $500, but can easily run upwards of $1,000, depending on your needs.”
The Lenovo Duet 3for example, is $379, and it can stream videos, run almost any Android app, and be used for cloud gaming via Nvidia GeForce now or Xbox Cloud Gaming. Other premium Chromebooks, like the CNET Editor’s Choice award-winner Acer Chromebook Spin 714, are more expensive, but they can have up to 10 hours of battery life. They can also stream videos and handle productivity apps like Slack with ease.
2. You can only use Chrome on Chromebooks
It’s understandable—yet wrong—to think that Chromebooks, running ChromeOS, can only use a Chrome browser. You can run other browsers such as Brave and Firefoxon your Chromebook.
To use these browsers, you need to download the apps from the Google Play Store. While those apps are meant for Android phones, they will work on your Chromebook. Some apps have tablet support so they look cleaner and use the additional space on your Chromebook’s screen. Their windows can also be changed, just like traditional desktop software.
3. Chromebooks are not safe to use
Chromebooks have multiple layers of protection to keep your data safe. For example, you’ll get automatic updates from Google so your device always has the latest updates. Chromebooks also run individual websites and apps in sandboxes to contain threats.
These security features make Chromebooks more secure than many other laptops. According to CVE Details, a security vulnerability data source, ChromeOS has had about 50 security vulnerabilities since 2010. In comparison, Windows 10 has had almost 3,000 vulnerabilities since 2013.
4. Chromebooks don’t work offline
While the first models were designed to be used online only, Google long ago changed that so that many Chromebook apps will work with or without an Internet connection. You can use your Chromebook to take notes, watch movies, and listen to music when you’re offline. You can even check and respond to emails or view, edit or create documents in Google Drive. In these cases, whatever emails you send or changes you make to documents will not go through until you reconnect to the Internet.
5. You can’t play on Chromebooks
Years ago, you could only play web-based games on your Chromebook, but since 2016, you can play many of the games in the Google Play Store. This includes games like Roblox and Apex Legends Mobile. You can also play games from Steam, Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Amazon Luna and Xbox Cloud Gaming on your Chromebook.
Google even sells Chromebooks made for cloud gaming. The Acer Chromebook 516 GE, Asus Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip and Lenovo Ideapad Gaming Chromebook are the first three gaming Chromebooks that let anyone play AAA PC games without a high-end gaming PC that uses cloud services.
6. Chromebooks are not good for photo or video editing
For basic editing, the Google Play Store has a number of photo and video editing apps, including Adobe’s Android apps and LumaFusion, which is Chromebook compatible. Google also unveiled a new video editor and movie maker in Google Photos July.
If you’re a business professional and need more advanced photo or video editing capabilities, like Adobe InDesign or Photoshop, you’ll still want a Windows, Mac, or Linux laptop. However, if you’re putting together a family photo album or a video for a family reunion, Chromebooks have everything you need.
7. Chromebooks can’t run Microsoft Office
Yes, you can run Microsoft Office on your Chromebook. Instead of using the software suite for Windows or MacOS, you’ll use Microsoft’s Office progressive web apps, or PWAs.
PWAs are like the mobile versions of websites, but they give you more features, such as offline usage and push notifications. There are PWAs for Microsoft Office 365 which works great on Chromebooks. Besides the PWAs must downloadusing it is the same as using the web versions of Office 365. Microsoft Office power users may find that Office PWAs aren’t as robust as the desktop software, but the PWAs will likely meet most people’s needs.
8. You can’t use Windows on a Chromebook
This one is half true. Although you can’t install Windows on your Chromebook, you can access the operating system via remote access. You can use remote desktop access tools, such as Parallels for Chrome or Chrome’s Remote Desktopto connect your Chromebook to a Windows computer.
Parallels allows you to run full Windows applications and is primarily intended for business users. Chrome’s Remote Desktop takes minutes to set up and can be used to access Windows — or Mac — software on your Chromebook. Is it cheating? Maybe, but I won’t say if you won’t.
Check out more about Chromebooks these seven Chromebooks for any budget, how to get steam on your chromebook and how to run Windows Office on your Chromebook.