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More potential than ever before: how I fell for a Chromebook

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© nextpit

My aversion to Microsoft’s business strategy and their operating system led me to turn to the competition more than 10 years ago. Since then, I’ve been a satisfied Linux and MacOS user. But there was another system, that’s less popular, which I thought deserved a try: ChromeOS. I took a look at a Chromebook to get a firsthand experience of the operating system.

A market that’s difficult to enter

According to data from the Pew Research Center, 95% of Americans own a mobile device and 73% own a computer. Each device has its own use and every person has their own habits, but there is one constant that can’t be denied: both platforms have tons of users and both rely on the internet. According to Pew, 77% of Americans use the internet “daily”, and 26% of American are “almost constantly” online.

This is where the Chromebook comes in: a computer that is meant for the internet generation. While it has managed to gain popularity in the U.S., particularly in the education market, it has struggled to establish itself elsewhere, particularly in Europe. In other parts of the world, PCs are by far the most widely used system, which makes it difficult for other operating systems to gain market share. It’s almost funny that the situation for mobile devices is exactly the opposite of what it is for computers: in the mobile market Google is king, and in the computer market, Microsoft still reigns.

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A computer optimized for automation. / © NextPit

Is the Chromebook “the computer for everyone”?

Perhaps you’re one of many users who have a simple demand: office work (writing and saving documents), surfing the web, watching videos and listening to music. In the computer world, that would make you a basic user, i.e. the type of customer that Chromebooks are targeting.

I would guess that this kind of user represents the majority of people (that’s just an estimate, I don’t have exact stats), but there are also more demanding users. Hardcore games want to play real PC games, and people in the graphic design or video world need a lot of RAM, storage space and performance. Both of these types of users will find some assistance with Android apps, but generally that’s not enough for them.

The system, Chrome OS, is undoubtedly the biggest advantage of the Chromebook. You don't like Windows, can't/want to invest in MacOS and don't want to switch to Linux? You have an alternative at a very fair price (depending on the model, of course), which allows you to access Android apps. If you have an Android smartphone, everything will be easy to figure out.

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This Acer Chromebook turns into a touch tablet. / © NextPit

More original technology than on Macbooks

The big advantage of the Chromebook (and Android smartphones, for that matter) is that any manufacturer can produce them. As Acer’s marketing and communication manager explained to me, manufacturers can’t do whatever they want and must respect certain rules (especially in terms of design). But with that said, they have some creative license in terms of features, which is to the delight of fans. For example, Acer offers Chromebooks that can be rotated 360 degrees and that use a touch-sensitive screen, so that the device can be used as a tablet.

Of course, it would be interesting to see extremely thin Chromebooks (like the new one), but it's always more interesting than what's happening on the MacBook side where we haven't seen any big changes in years, except for the evolution of the technical characteristics and the appearance of the Type-C USB port.

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Laptops are reaching record thinness... so when will see a thin Chromebook? /  © NextPit

Too much Google?

The only point that makes me hesitant is Google’s omnipresence. The company does bother me in many ways. They are an expert when it comes to technology and communication (manipulation might be the right word). The most well-known example is the fact that Android is free because it pays for itself through the world’s private data. The Mountain View firm is making huge sums of money from what it learns about us everyday.

The only point that still makes me hesitate is Google’s omnipresence.

Like most tech companies, the web giant likes to pretend it’s a hero, and like many others it does everything it can to lock people in its ecosystem and make them dependent on their services. And then Google has the audacity to alert users when they spend too much time on their devices. This is the classic hypocrisy we’ve come to see from tech companies.

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Don’t try to bend a MacBook with at too wide of an angle... /  © NextPit

For several months, I tried to boycott Google services: using an alternative search engine, abandoning my Gmail address and using a personal address with its own domain, storing files on private devices, boycotting YouTube, etc… if at first you think it’s not so complicated, over time it became impossible and like many others before me, I surrendered and returned to Google services both for my personal and professional life, since it was just easier.

So by choosing a Chromebook are you selling your soul to the devil? Yes, somewhat, but it’s a compromise between practicality and use. A few years ago, I was still using Arch Linux and was exclusively using Open Source services, but in this day and age it’s become impossible and I think most users are in the same boat as me.

Could you see yourself falling for a Chromebook?

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Benoit Pepicq

Benoit Pepicq

Benoit is passionate about new technologies and everything related to computers. A big Android fan since 2011, he joined the AndroidPIT team to satisfy his passion and to share his knowledge on Android with readers.

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  • 27
    Sorin Sep 11, 2018 Link to comment

    For productivity and to work efficiently, the laptop remains the preferred solution for those who want to work in mobility. Either way, the Android 2-in-1 Android operating system is completely useless, and the alternative for Windows 10 mobile is ChromeOS. I have great expectations from this operating system, the future will tell if it will be successful.

    Cajun Moses

  • 12
    Franz Fifty Sep 10, 2018 Link to comment

    So you're concerned about Google being Google and how they do Business by providing you services you want to use but are scared of by the very Business model. How can you be interested in a Chromebook if you are scared giving away your data? How are people expecting tech companies providing you with a level of suited features without knowing who you are? i'm not defending the unconditional collection of data, but if Google is not allowed to store your data and information (files, etc) in the cloud by knowing who you are, how do you expect using a Chromebook?


  • 6
    Jack Smith Sep 10, 2018 Link to comment

    Not long ago replaced a Mac Book Pro with a Pixel Book for development and could not be happier.

    The cloud is GNU/Linux and so having a GNU/Linux laptop is just ideal. Google now having GNU/Linux built into the Pixel is just ideal.

    OS X was close as Unix but still NOT GNU/Linux. Windows makes terrible development machines as the world has moved beyond Windows.

    Cajun MosesSorinstorm

  • 3
    G Wilkinson Sep 10, 2018 Link to comment

    I got a Lenovo Yoga Chromebook almost a year ago and I loved it from the get - go,the OS is so light as compared to Windows 10.

    Cajun MosesSorinChalupa BatmanJack Smith

  • APJ Smart Works 3
    APJ Smart Works Sep 10, 2018 Link to comment

    I really like your post, thanks for sharing this and looking forward to seeing more from you.

    Cajun MosesSorin

  • 12
    Ellett Sep 10, 2018 Link to comment

    You say Chromebooks are "less popular than Macs and Linux"? You're information is way obsolete. Chromebooks have outsold Macs for years, and for workstations, Linux is only a blip. Chrome OS is the second most popular workstation OS on the planet and it gains on Windows every year.

    As you correctly stated, there is much more originality in development on Chrome OS than on Mac OS (or Windows). Chromebooks are now modern touch screen pen-equipped workstations that run Chrome OS, 3 1/2 million Android apps and now Linux applications. No other platform even comes close to this power and flexibility.

    And you can still get a very functional Chromebook for an inexpensive price.

    Cajun MosesSorin

    • 6
      Jack Smith Sep 10, 2018 Link to comment

      Not only outselling Macs but also Mac sales peaked in 2015 and Google shared 50% growth for Chromebooks YoY.

      Cajun Moses

  • 49
    storm Sep 10, 2018 Link to comment

    My thing is I find much more specialized apps more useful. Google apps don't cut it. MSOffice type work is common but it's pretty dumbed down. I need more choice for apps and support in the OS, not the spying browser.

    SorinDeactivated Account

    • 12
      Ellett Sep 10, 2018 Link to comment

      Storm, now that Chromebooks support Linux applications you can install Libre Office, which is very full-featured.

      Cajun MosesSorinJack SmithNicholas Montegriffo

      • 49
        storm Sep 10, 2018 Link to comment

        I could just run Linux on a cheap laptop and skip the chrome nonsense entirely too. And be happier for it


      • 6
        Jack Smith Sep 10, 2018 Link to comment

        GNU/Linux is built in with ChromeOS and so you get all the security and GNU/Linux. Installing a distro on a laptop that would not be true.

        Plus you get updates and just it is so easy to use GNU/Linux now on Chromebooks.

        I am a techie and focus is kernel internals but I still am lazy and do NOT want to have to worry about finding drivers and installing GNU/Linux. Much prefer it just built in. Plus for me security is a big deal. ChromeOS having the best security you can get is a big deal to me.

        Recently replaced a Mac Book Pro with a Pixel Book as the cloud is GNU/LInux.

        Cajun MosesEllett

      • 12
        Ellett Sep 10, 2018 Link to comment

        YOU certainly could, but most people just want to install the apps they need and get on with it. Chromebooks gives Linux apps to people who aren't computer geeks, and that's most people.

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