Advantages of a Chromebook
Compared to a laptop, a Chromebook has these advantages:
- Price: Unless you buy a model with numerous options, a Chromebook ($150-$300) will nearly always be a more economical option than a laptop (minimum $400). Note that these numbers are approximate, with a wide range of price options in each category.
- Boot times: Chromebooks boot up faster than other PC systems thanks to their solid state drives and the Chrome OS, which is intentionally designed to activate a minimal set of functions -- little more than the Chrome browser -- when first turned on.
- Simplicity: For anyone who hasn't yet used a PC or gets frustrated using a standard laptop OS, a Chromebook can be a great choice because there's less to learn to get started, with most tasks initiated directly from the Chrome browser.
- Thin and light: Generally, Chromebooks are thinner and lighter than standard laptops because they use solid state storage exclusively and omit big, heavy add-ons such as DVD drives, etc. But read the specs. Many new laptop designs compare favorably to Chromebooks in terms of portability.
- Unplugged lifestyle: There's nothing like a Chromebook to help push a user to adopt a more unplugged lifestyle -- saving files to the cloud rather than a hard drive, streaming music rather than downloading it, and perhaps even avoiding some viruses or other negative aspects of using a standard laptop OS.
Advantages of a laptop
Compared to a Chromebook, a laptop has these advantages:
- Flexibility: A laptop with a full PC operating system, optical drive, and multiple slots and ports will always be more flexible than a Chromebook, which has a relatively limited user interface, fewer port types, and relies more on remote applications and services (which can also be reached from a laptop).
- Advanced software: Virtually every software program -- photo editors, spreadsheets, word processors, games -- can run on a laptop, whereas some software makers have yet to release Chrome-compatible versions of their programs. NOTE: Some newer Chromebooks can run Android apps, which could, over time, help them catch up to laptops, software-wise.
- Processor speed: Laptops typically have faster clock speeds than Chromebooks, as even small models have frame designs that can contain (and cool) the latest processors, additional RAM, etc. Chromebooks aren't slow, by any means. But laptops can do more at once.
- Business use: Most analysts give laptops the edge for business, particularly those with multi-core, multi-thread CPUs and better multi-tasking. A Chomebook's suitability for business increases for frequently mobile users who put extra value on portability, especially if it's at a lower cost.
- Offline time: Laptop users can stay relatively productive even when beyond the range of their home or office wireless, whereas the Chromebook's "connected-for-everything" approach could make it hard to complete some tasks when out-of-range.