A few years ago we purchased refurbished Dell laptops for the kids to use. There are often great deals on these gently used computers and for teenagers who are using them for homework and some games, they are more than sufficient. But adding a couple of Chromebooks to our family gave them what they were looking for.
Solving a Problem
Many schools today are using Google Classroom as a means of working on and sharing content in class and may be accessed from any internet connected computer. The problem we encountered was that of computer size and battery life. The Dell laptops were not that big but they were somewhat bulky and the battery lasted only a few hours. I looked at buying larger batteries but these just added more bulk to the laptop and wouldn’t make it more likely for the kids to want to take it to school.
Another issue taking the laptops to school is that they have all types of data stored on the computer and even though I am a big proponent of storing data on the cloud and backing up, they’re kids and I can just see something breaking on the laptop and they lose something that is important. If only there was a way to send them to school with a laptop that…
- didn’t store anything locally
- was lightweight to carry
- had all day battery life
- didn’t cost a fortune to buy
Well, here comes a Chromebook to the rescue!
Black Friday sales to the rescue
I was browsing the Black Friday sales in November 2018 and came across a Chromebook from Staples. Unlike the price shown below, it was $190 plus tax. Even $279.99 for a laptop that meets the above mentioned problems is a good deal. At the sale price, I picked up two.
So, what exactly is a Chromebook?
A Chromebook is a laptop computer that runs Google’s Chrome OS operating system. Important to note is that a Chromebook will not run Windows and MacOS software. Chromebooks are intended to be connected to the internet and store data on cloud based sites such as Google and Dropbox, among many others.
If you’ve used the Chrome web browser then you already know the look and feel of a Chromebook. Even if you have never used Chrome, it’s easy to get accustomed to working with a Chromebook.
But I don’t have kids, should I get a Chromebook?
A Chromebook makes a great companion to your regular laptop or desktop. If you’re just checking email and browsing some websites while travelling or even sitting on your couch, a Chromebook can more than meet your needs. Lots of software runs online now, including Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365. This means that you can still do work in a word processor or a spreadsheet using only a Chromebook. I will say that these online versions are more limited than something like the full version of Microsoft Word or Excel but you may find that the features you need are more than covered by a Chromebook.
Chromebooks come in numerous configurations and sizes so it’s best to search online or go visit your local computer store for more information. They all work the same way, but some have larger screens and even touch screens.
Great, I’m tossing my Windows laptop and buying a Chromebook
Not so fast. If you have software that you use on either Windows or Mac plus lots of files such as pictures and documents, you may still want to hang on to your main Windows or Mac computer. At this time, a Chromebook is a great companion to a primary computer. If you store your files in the cloud, then accessing them from the Chromebook is easy. There are some people who could use a Chromebook as their only computer. If you have your email online and don’t work with any programs loaded on your computer, it’s possible that a Chromebook could be your only computer.
How my kids are using Chromebooks now
It’s been a few months and I would say that the Chromebook purchases are a big success. Both kids bring their Chromebooks to school on a regular basis. They don’t even have to charge them every day which means the battery life is more than adequate. They can access all the Google resources for school and I discovered that they both use Google Docs for a lot of their projects and other work.
We’re getting closer to a time when everything will be easily accessible in the cloud and we just need a device to connect to it. Chromebooks are a solid first step in a cloud based world and I expect we’ll be seeing more of this type of computer.