My Experience: One Week With Chromebook
Personal computers have become a necessity for all of us in this techno-savvy, intensely connected world. People are looking for PCs that can fulfill their needs - productivity, entertainment, gaming, etc. - , come with high-end specifications but at the same time provide some respite to their pockets.
You might consider a Windows or a Mac a good choice for you when it comes to buying a PC. The geeks in you might also suggest going for Linux based PCs. Now there's nothing wrong with going for PCs based on the abovementioned operating systems (OS). All of them come with their own pros and cons. While Windows is the slowest one of all, Linux provides the ultimate security. On the other hand, macOS provides much better security than Windows and a nice experience. But it's a bit costly when it comes to the markets outside the United States, especially a country like India.
It's a bit difficult to find the perfect balance between price, specs, and high-end experience when buying a PC or a laptop. But what if I tell you there's a machine which - well, not perfectly - fits in well with all the requirements? Say hi to Google's baby, Chromebook.
Chromebooks run on Google’s own operating system known as Chrome OS, Till today, many reviewers mistakenly mentioned ChromeOS as just a chrome browser. While it’s not wrong, but with the specs that are coming with Chromebooks today, it just looks like a half-truth.
I came in contact with Chrome OS for the first time a couple of years back. Neverware, a company that develops a Chromium-based operating system, Cloudready feels similar to Chrome OS. I installed that on one of my aged laptops.
For the unknown - Google implemented the Chromium Project way back in 2008. They made it open source and simultaneously used it for their own products like the Chrome Browser and ChromeOS. Anyone, like Neverware, can leverage the Chromium program to build internet browsers - Vivaldi, Opera, Brave, and the new entrant Microsoft Edge - and operating systems.
It would not be doing good justice by saying that ChromeOS is just a Chrome browser. Since the day Google announced the program, it has become a full-fledged, independent OS that just gets all the tasks done quite effectively. Google's own flagship Chromebooks, the Pixelbook and the lighter version, Pixelbook Go (Google's much talked about affection with the word "Go") are high-end Chromebooks with the former starts at $999 (₹90,000).
With the introduction of Intel's flagship processors, touchscreen functionality, vendors making convertible laptops, and the icing on the cake, implementing the whole Android OS and Linux (Beta) into almost all Chromebooks, make Chromebooks a much better option than the counterparts like Windows, macOS and offers an amazing experience.
I bought my first Chromebook a week ago. It's HP x360 14. The 2019 model. It's a convertible one which I can use in both laptop and tablet mode. It comes with Intel i3, and i5 (I went with the latter) processors and offers 64 GB eMMC internal storage. That means it can be expanded up to 128 GB with the dedicated memory card slot.
Here's what I found using my Chromebook for a week.
I just fell in love with the design of this Chromebook at the time of unboxing it. The screen―which is an HD screen by the way with 1920x1080 resolution - , the backlit keyboard, amazing touchpad, touchscreen, fresh look with the white screen lid and HP logo on top along with the Chrome branding. Everything just looks gorgeous and highly attractive. You always feel like using a premium device that actually delivers.
With Intel's i5 in place, I feel Chromebook is one of the most powerful devices when it comes to performance. Some of you might argue that i5 is unnecessary for ChromeOS. But I disagree. I like to play with my device as much as I can. I might test this machine a lot in the future by installing other operating systems and for that, that extra fuel might come in handy.
If you're a gamer, Chromebooks are fully supported with Android OS. You can anytime install and play your favorite games. To run high-end games like Asphalt 8 or PUBG, I feel that the i5 processor does really come in handy.
It also comes with 8 GB of RAM that makes it even faster. ChromeOS doesn't consume a lot of RAM usually. It's enough to have 4 GB but 8 GB is better. Going beyond that could be termed unnecessary. I could run all my programs without even a pinch of glitch anywhere with 8 GB of RAM and i5 processor specifications. I played high-end games, did multitasking, and it was just working fine.
The Chromebook's convertible impressed me at first sight. Sometimes it gets really boring to use your PC in laptop mode. With this Chromebook, I get to use it as a tablet.
At any time while using if I cannot scroll the screen with the keypad or let's say I'm having any issues while browsing, its touchscreen allows me to interact with the screen directly which is super useful.
With just a flip, I can put it on its natural stand and start watching my favorite shows and movies.
With Android support, it exposes me to millions of apps available on the Google Play store. I can download them at any time and use them as I need them. Now that's super flexible.
For those who are curious about going beyond Google apps, it does have Linux support and gets many jobs done quite easily. So that front, too, is sorted.
It's Modern - and Future too
By modern, I mean a machine that can help me to be on top of all developments. It should easily sync with other devices I use and the flow of data should be automatic. This Chromebook does that for me.
I have connected my Android device to the Chromebook and it just works really well. Thanks to Google's extraordinary support, syncing my data between the two devices just becomes amazingly easy.
While most of the apps are moving to SaaS and browsers are becoming incredibly powerful, Chromebooks are definitely the phenomenon of the future. You can taste that with the current generation of Chromebooks which I feel are more advanced than other machines.
With just 1.5kgs, HP x360 14 is definitely mobile and easy to carry. While it's not the lightest Chromebooks available in the market, it really feels light.
If you're a frequent traveler, you will find this Chromebook incredibly handy and easy to use. You can spend some extra bucks to buy a stylus and make it your personal drawing board to draw some incredible designs and pictures.
All in all, Chromebooks are great. It just feels like a fresh breath in the large sea of laptops available in Windows and macOS.
Yes, there are limitations. You'll definitely face issues while installing your favorite Windows and macOS desktop apps. You'll have no choice but to use alternatives. But trust me the plethora of apps available on the Google Play store and other alternatives exclusively built for Chrome OS get the job done.
When it comes to pricing, Chromebooks are cheaper than most other laptops available in the market. For example, the HP x360 14 is available at just $549 (₹49000). Now, this surely should seal the deal.
Chromebooks are not anymore the student's thing - who are its target audience. Soon, Google will be eying to sell Chromebooks to all age groups. With newer Chromebooks like Samsung Galaxy and others which are supposed to launch soon are expected to make a huge leap forward when it comes to the Chromebooks and make them the first choice for all.
For me, this Chromebook works like a charm and I'm gonna use it as my default PC from here on.