Recently, I found myself in the market for a computer that was more travel-friendly than my desktop tower. Of course, anything is more travel-friendly than a desktop tower, but that's the issue that I was having. I wanted to be able to have a light alternative to tote around with me during the day. I do have an iPad Air that has served me well when it comes to typing up documents, but when it comes to sending them off, publishing, or most things relating to school, the iPad only works as a middleman. It was time to pick up something that worked better for me.
My initial thought was to go for a cheap Windows laptop. It's the platform I've been using my whole life, and I'm quite comfortable with it. Honestly, I would have been perfectly fine going with a Windows PC if I wanted to, but to make a long story short, I ended up opting for a Chromebook instead.
I actually spent a lot of time considering which Chromebook to get. It sounds silly considering that Chromebooks are the most bare-bones type of laptop a person can get, but I was surprised to find that there are a lot of different sizes and types of Chromebooks to choose from. I ended up going with a $200 ASUS C202SA Chromebook. It was cheap, had good specs for what I intended to use it for (web browsing, e-mail, school, streaming, and work), and it has a rugged enough design that I felt comfortable enough to set my 6-year-old up with a profile so he could use it when I'm not.
I've only had the Chromebook for a week, but already I feel like I made a solid choice. I bought this device feeling unsure about my purchase – mostly because it's not one of the three Chromebooks that has the Google Play Store on it yet, and I wasn’t sure how useful this platform would be to me. However, I'm pleased to admit that I was totally wrong, and Chrome OS is more capable (and familiar) than I ever gave it credit for.
Aside from being a chronic pessimist, I'm also a "worst case scenario" kinda gal. It's my thing. So when I spent the better half of two weeks researching the pros and cons between Chromebooks and "normal" laptops, I kept worrying about what I would be missing out on if I went with the Chromebook. What if I needed Photoshop? And Microsoft's Office Online probably isn't nearly as good as the Office software (I mean, it isn't, but it works fine). It also doesn't have the Play Store yet – what am I supposed to do with a computer that doesn't really have programs or apps?
Turns out all of my worrying was for naught. No, Chrome OS doesn't do everything. It doesn't do a lot of things (which people should know about before buying one), but for the basic things that I needed from it – web browsing, creating and editing Office documents, school, publishing, Netflix and Hulu, the ability to switch between customized profiles, a rugged, durable design, and excellent battery life (which is on par with my old iPad, which I also thought had great battery life), the Chromebook's thin client was well worth the very affordable price tag I paid – and it doesn't even have the Play Store yet! As an added bonus, the Chromebook can work together with my Android phone for certain menial tasks, and as the two platforms slowly adopt features from the other (Android borrowing from Chrome OS and Chrome OS from Android) it will hopefully feel more unified in the future.
I'm amazed, honestly; primarily because I didn’t realize that probably 80% of my time spent on a computer are doing basic things from a browser, which is what Chrome OS is most useful for. Photoshop, Office software, and video games are all things that can usually wait until I get to my desktop at home. But for everything else, I have my new trusty Chromebook.