Fancy a new computer, but don’t like the idea of spending too much on a new device?
Depending on your requirements, a Chromebook might be the best option. Designed primarily to work while connected to the internet, Chromebooks run on Google’s operating system, a version of the Linux kernel, and use the Chrome web browser as the primary interface.
Chromebooks are quite simple to use, offer short set up and login times (just open the lid and enter your Google credentials), and feature built in virus protection and access to popular apps such as Spotify, WhatsApp and Viber. They also offer extended battery life (between 9 and 12 hours depending on the model) and make use of cloud-based apps rather than onboard software which is reflected in the price tag – prices start from €179.99 for the Acer 11.6-inch Chromebook at PC World. Keep an eye out for online discounts elsewhere – Amazon is currently offering the Lenovo N22 Chromebook for £109.99 (€121). Given the emphasis placed on cloud storage, Google also offers 100GB of free Google Drive storage for two years when you buy a Chromebook.
There are some drawbacks I’ve found over the past two years of Chromebook ownership. Chromebooks don’t have the ability to run Microsoft software – for example, you’ll have to edit a Microsoft Word document with Google Docs (the formatting doesn’t always translate so well), though you can avail of Microsoft Office web apps as an alternative.
Secondly, there’s no disk drive, though the likes of Netflix and YouTube can negate this issue. Thirdly, printing can be a little difficult. The only option is using Google Cloud Print to either print directly to a cloudy ready printer, or through an ordinary printer connected to a secondary Windows or Mac computer with internet access.
If you’re an enthusiastic PC gamer or a heavy user of Microsoft applications, a Chromebook may not be for you. But, if you spend most of your time online and you prefer using Google’s suite of applications, it could be an option to experience a different way of doing things and to save some money while doing so.