Since their launch in 2011, Chromebooks have slowly been gaining steam. Lenovo just thew their hat into the Chrome OS arena along with Acer and Samsung with a Chromebook designed for education. Starting at $199, Chromebooks do one thing: launch Chrome and connect to the web. In a world of tablets and smartphones, do Chromebooks matter–at all–in your opinion? Would you buy one/recommend buying one? What do you like or dislike about the idea of a Chromebook? Will businesses get on board? Consumers? What do you think Google is trying to accomplish with the Chromebook? Are Chromebooks (and Chrome OS) an important challenger to Microsoft and Apple? Here’s the Think Tank to give you their opinion:
No, But It’s Perfect for the Google Universe
As of now, I would not buy a Google Chromebook. This is not to say everyone should not buy a one. For most people, the Chromebook is a perfect device since 95 percent of the time the only app most people use is a browser to access the Internet and; for those who primarily live in the Google universe, this is the perfect portable device.
As for me, I’m firmly entrenched in the Apple ecosystem so a Chromebook really would not be a good choice for me. I also work with and edit photography and video so my computers needs are more than just a browser. Along with a 27 inch iMac, the MacBook Air is my notebook computer of choice.
I believe the Chromebook is a transitional device. As tablets and other tablet like device (like smartphones) gain more power and usability, these are the devices that will continue to gain traction. It’s ultimately about portability, versatility and connectivity. A tablet is portable in that you can tuck it under your arm (or in your pocket in the case of the iPad Mini and other 7 inch models,) versatile in that you can use peripherals such as keyboards to add specialized functionality when needed and connected in that most tablet devices have 3G and LTE data connectivity built-in and all have wifi so you can be online from anywhere.
So to answer the question: Would I buy a Google Chromebook? My answer is no but I suspect for most average people who have data needs that are mostly satisfied through a web browser, the answer is a resounding YES!
Yes and No; It Depends
I ordered a couple of Acer Chromebooks to test out (I wanted to give the Samsung model a try, but they were consistently sold out all across the web) and I have to say I really like them, surprisingly. I can’t replace my normal computing routine with a Chromebook at the moment… I’m too dependent on Adobe Creative Suite which demands a lot more power and obviously needs to be installed locally. But, for many people I know and work with, the Chromebook is perfect–it not only does everything they need, it’s cheap. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chromebooks became free someday as Google does it’s best to keep people using it’s search, especially in the face on new Facebook Graph Search competition. I wish I could get away with just a web browser… but I still can’t quite do it. If I could, I’d happily use a Chromebook (although I still prefer my MacBook Air, given a choice). It turns on quick, has some nice built-in features like the ability to snap windows (ie Chrome) to either side of the screen. I have an iPad, and I love it, but I am a device guy–a Chromebook is nice to have around just cause… I can pick up and use it anywhere without really worrying if it gets messed up/dropped/scratched/stolen. It’s almost disposable. Secretary’s (and who are we kidding, some executives) can get by on a Chromebook no problem (it has an HDMI out as well for connecting to a monitor or TV). So, yes, and no.
No, But I’d Recommend a Chromebook to My Grandma
When I think of netbooks, I associate them with crappier versions of every other computer on the market. Who wants one laptop for getting stuff done, and one craptop for checking email and tweeting? No thanks. I’ll use my iPad for that.
So, no. I would not buy a Chromebook. I thought netbooks were dead anyway now that we have iPads. That said, I would recommend a Chromebook to my Grandma if she asked me what kind of computer she should get that isn’t an Apple.
I’m not entirely sure what Google’s M.O. is with Chromebook, but tablets like the iPad have clearly struck a cord with a demographic that historically hasn’t considered using social media or even getting online. The Chromebook may be able to do something that netbooks couldn’t — get people to buy them. If they do, it will be the OS that earns Google a win for netbooks.
No, Because I Have an iPad
Personally, I wouldn’t buy one, but that’s only because I have an iPad already. As a parent and educator, I think there’s absolutely a market for an affordable tool like this. With its low price point, it could even help to bridge the “Digital Divide” by enabling more people to access the Internet. The Chromebook doesn’t directly compete with Microsoft or Apple, because those companies are reaching for a higher-end market. This could be a useful tool for consumers who otherwise would be priced out of the tablet or laptop market.
Essentially, Chromebooks are good for one thing: accessing the Internet using Chrome. This is fantastic, provided users can do all the things they’d generally want to do online. Video playback on some major sites — including Netflix — doesn’t work properly on the Chromebook, which limits the appeal of this tool for recreational and educational purposes. If they can sort that out, this could be a viable option for a largely untapped market.
Kerry O’Shea Gorgone (@KerryGorgone) is an attorney, new media specialist, and educator teaching Internet marketing at Full Sail University in Florida.
No, But I’d Buy One for My Son
No, I wouldn’t buy a Google Chromebook, well, at least not for myself. I’m seriously considering buying one for a certain someone in my family who just happens to have a birthday right around the corner, though (hint, hint).
I have a Macbook Pro that I’m very happy with. However, I do wish the Google Chromebook had been an option back when I purchased my Mac laptop, which certainly didn’t come cheap. Ranging between $199 and $249, a Chromebook would have been a much more budget-appropriate choice.
I would consider purchasing a Samsung Chromebook for my almost 12-year-old. (Shh! Don’t tell him.) It would be a perfect low-cost first laptop for him. As a 6th grader who wrestles a grip of homework, reports, and presentations, he has to quickly create, edit, cloud share, and email text documents, spreadsheets, and image and video files on the fly. He could easily do all of that (via Google Drive, Gmail and such) and much more (IM and explore the web, hopefully not too much) with a Chromebook, all while seamlessly syncing it with with his Android smartphone.
Despite rumors that Chromebooks only do one thing (access the Internet and not much more), they’re actually packed with quite a few top notch built-in apps and utilities, including a native media player, photo editor, and many more built-in geeky goodies. Plus, I hear they’re pretty much bulletproof when it comes to viruses and malware.
Bonus: With a Chromebook, my tween (and don’t tell him I called him that, he’d be mortified) could easialy listen to music and stream movies via YouTube and Google Play. Both are nearly impossible to sanitize in terms of age-appropriate content, though. Chromebook at his fingertips, my son could even chat with up to nine friends all at once via Google Hangouts, though I’m not sure I’m quite ready for him to take the way-too-public required Google+ social media plunge.
And how could he survive without a million games to conquer? It’s a good thing the Chrome Web Store features countless fun (and free!) games, including a few of my son’s favorites, like Motocross Nitro, Mini Ninjas, Need for Speed World, and, yes, the almighty Minecraft.
Final verdict: I’d definitely buy a budget-friendly Google Chromebook over a pricey Macbook for my kids (the other two will want what their big brother has, no doubt). If someone spills Gatorade on it or drops it in the pool, I won’t be out a thousand bucks. As you can see, a killer price is far from the only reason I’d pick one (or three) up for my brood. Now to figure out where I can get one within walking distance of my home…
Kim Lachance Shandrow (LinkedIn) is a Los Angeles-based tech journalist who specializes in writing about social media marketing, startups, smartphones, streaming TV, mobile apps and green technology.