decide between a Chromebook and a Windows PC laptop it can be difficult, and the decision should be based on the needs of the student.
Whether you are looking for the best computer for you or your child, or looking for an inexpensive option for lessons, we can help you make the right choice.
In this Chromebook vs Laptop guide, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of the devices.
What is a Chromebook?
A Chromebook is a personal computer running the Chrome OS operating system.. Anything you can do with the Google Chrome browser, you can do with a Chromebook.
No updates or software needed, with a Chromebook you can charge it up, open the cover and start using it right away.
We go into more detail in our What is a Chromebook? guide. Also, be sure to check out our best Chromebook guide for more buying advice.
What is the difference between a Chromebook and a laptop?
Physically, a Chromebook and a Windows laptop are very similar. Both are laptops with a built-in keyboard, camera, screen, and usually include a touchpad. Many Chromebooks are clamshells, with some having a touch screen and the ability to convert to a tablet.
Within devices, however, there are some important differences. Windows laptops run on various microprocessors, usually Intel and AMD chips.
Chromebooks, meanwhile, have lower-performing chips that better meet Chrome OS's relatively thin requirements. There are expensive Chromebooks that run on Intel Core chips, but most lower and mid-range Chromebooks have lesser-known processors.
Traditional laptops run on an operating system called Windows 10 and run Windows applications. Windows PCs offer a wide range of features, including high-powered graphics cards, making them more versatile. Your student can use the same computer to write a dissertation during the day and play Overwatch at night.
There are also laptops that run Linux, an open source operating system, but they are relatively rare. Also, Apple makes its own laptops that run on its macOS operating system and are known as MacBooks.
Chromebooks are much less complex. They run Chrome OS, which is based on the Chrome web browser. The latest Chromebooks can run Android apps, giving them more versatility than in the past.
It's also worth noting that Windows laptops generally have a lot of local storage, starting at 128GB at the low end. Chromebooks typically pack around 16GB of storage. This is because Chrome OS and the apps it runs don't need as much storage space as Windows. Chromebooks are also designed to store your documents online in the 'cloud', using services like Google Drive.
Is a Chromebook or Laptop Better for School Work?
A Chromebook is a good option for a student who primarily uses the computer to surf the web, process text, or stream video and audio. Storage is not a problem if students interested in Google can store their files with Drive. They can also use SD cards and USB drives to store their documents.
A Chromebook is also a great low-cost option, with prices going up to $100 / £120 / AU$140 during the holiday season for lower-end models. However, the price of a Chromebook can skyrocket to $1,000 / $1,000 / $1,400AU if you go for a corporate or luxury option like the Google Pixelbook.
For school work, the Chromebook is a winner because it has so few features. Without additional games or many apps, the Chromebook becomes a powerhouse of homework, allowing students to access their lessons online with few distractions.
Students can write their articles with Google Docs and share their work directly from the Chromebook with their teacher or parents, without the need to print. The Microsoft Office suite is also available online, so students can easily create Word documents.
The Chromebook is also just a tough device to break. If your student is willing to install virus-laden programs, the Chromebook can be easily erased and reset. If your kid isn't particularly tech-savvy, there are some confusing features: The Chromebook is a plug-in and play device. Some of the newer Chromebooks are a bit more physically delicate, but most can fail as most of the parts are plastic.
As for a Windows laptop, this is more of an investment, but it offers a lot of versatility and convenience. You have the flexibility to create just about anything on a laptop and store files on it.
There are also many drawbacks to a laptop associated with owning a full computer. It will take a long time to get started, will require updates, and even an occasional "blue screen of death" can occur. Chromebooks rarely crash, and when they do, a simple reboot is an easy fix.
However, some tasks are easier on a Windows device. Chromebooks have traditionally had problems with direct printing, while laptops have the ability to quickly print documents. Accessing and organizing files can be a bit tricky on the Chromebook too, but there are workarounds.
In a way, though, the versatility of a Windows laptop is a weakness, as there are more features available for hackers to attack a laptop. PCs need regular maintenance to keep them safe, even if it's just a matter of keeping up with scheduled software updates.
Chromebooks require much less maintenance, and Google developed Chromebooks with security in mind, and there are defenses that work behind the scenes to keep you safe while browsing the web.
One way to determine the correct option for you is to try a Chromebook. You can try using Google Chrome exclusively as a browser on your desktop for a few days and determine if your student needs more features than the browser can provide. Just use Chrome extensions and use online apps like Google Docs.
However, Windows offers a much more comprehensive computing experience, but Google OS is a much cheaper and smaller alternative that may be exactly what your student needs in the classroom.
Back to School 2020 will definitely be different and we are here to guide you through what you will need. Whether you're actually going back to school or taking online courses remotely, we've developed a series of step-by-step guides for students, teachers, and parents to make sure you're buying the right technology and accessories.