So I’ve been using a Chromebook for about a month already, and I pretty much love this device. I honestly haven’t found a lot of things I could not do that I wanted, with the exception of Minecraft (and I could probably find an APK somewhere and use a guide if I really wanted to).
The fact of the matter is, the majority of what you’d need a computer for is available on the World Wide Web, and most of the few exceptions are also available as an Android app.
Here are some of the things you CAN do:
Obvious Example: Browse the Web
Now, this is pretty much the obvious example, after all this is pretty much exactly what Chrome OS was built for in the first place. Since the OS was built off Google Chrome, being a Google Operating System, anything you can do on a Windows computer running Google Chrome you can do on Chrome OS, and faster. In fact, because the system is made by Google and built off Google Chrome, all you have to do is sign in with your Google account and every extension, theme, bookmark, etc. will sync from the Google account assuming you signed in to it on your Windows desktop.
If you log in to an unfamiliar Chromebook, everything will sync to it and just be there. And the cool thing is, unless the owner disabled it, you can add your account right from the sign in screen and delete the account later on.
Basically, if all you do on your Windows or Mac device is browse the web, or even spend all your time on YouTube or Netflix, you can’t go wrong with a Chromebook. You will literally lose nothing.
Now, if we’re talking Wix, Google Sites, Squarespace, or whatever, this is a pretty obvious example. Not so obvious is the idea of building websites using HTML and CSS. My website is built by hand from scratch, so it’s pretty important to me that I’ll be able to update it (unless I want to switch to WordPress or something), and the good thing is I can. On top of that, I can use net2ftp or some other Android App in order to upload my changes.
It’s not as ideal as Filezilla, however with the revelation that some Chromebooks will be able to run Linux apps, that may soon change.
If you are the kind of person who spends their time on Google Hangouts, Allo, Facebook Messenger, or even Skype, you will be able to use all of those platforms on your Chromebook. I have not tested Whatsapp, but I have no reason to believe one can not use that. Even video chats are pretty easy as most laptops come with a webcam, including Chromebooks.
Yes, you read that right, you CAN edit videos on a Chromebook. Let me point you do WeVideo, a non-linear video editor that exists entirely within the web. Now, this will NOT replace something like Adobe Premiere Pro, which is not available on Chrome OS. If you need the professional tools provided by Adobe, you do not want to switch to this platform.
Now, all that could change once Chromebooks start being able to run Linux apps, however please do not switch to a Chromebook if you NEED all the professional tools provided by Adobe.
But for basic video editing, such as if you’re starting out on YouTube or are making pretty simple videos, WeVideo will work pretty well for such purposes. It’s important to point out that if you want to make videos regularly, especially videos more than 5 minutes, you will want to pay for WeVideo Unlimited, which will set you back $7.99/month.
That being said, it is WAY better than Windows Movie Maker.
Yes, you CAN edit photos on a Chromebook. First off, there’s an Android app called Autodesk Sketchbook, but if you need something more robust, check out Pixlr. If you can do all the photo editing you’d normally do on this website, there’s no reason you wouldn’t go for a Chromebook. Again, this will not replace something like Photoshop, but it should be fine for most people.
Do you use Word? Powerpoint? Excel? What if I told you all of those applications are available in the form of an Android app? One you can use on a Chromebook? What if I told you that you could replace those applications with Google Docs?
To be honest, I have no idea what one is paying for when they pay for Microsoft Office. What exactly does Microsoft Word do that Google Docs can’t? The only thing that comes to mind is WordArt, but how many of us really need that?
Yeah, if you can survive off Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, or any number of online office applications, you can definetly use a Chromebook. Even if you take your notes on OneNote, that program is available as an Android App.
You will not be playing Call of Duty or Half-Life 2 on a Chrome OS machine. If you’re into the major Steam Games, you should probably stick to Windows or Mac. However, you can play any number of web games, such as Naruto Online, or any number of Android Games, such as Need for Speed: No Limits. Any emulator you can run on Android, you can run on Chrome OS. So that means, yes, you will be able to continue playing Pokemon Red.
Maybe once Chrome OS can run Linux apps, you will be able to run Steam on your Chromebook. As of today, however, that’s not an option.
Besides, if you’re a Steam user, Chromebooks are not aimed at you anyways.
So what’s the takeaway?
If you are a massive gamer, or your livelihood requires you to use professional software like Photoshop, Premiere, or even Audacity, Chrome OS will not be for you. However, for everyone else, there’s honestly no reason why you would still be using Windows or Mac. In fact, once Linux app support comes in around December, I see no reason why Windows or Mac should continue to be relevant, unless you really like those platforms (which I’m not going to rule out, they still are really good platforms).
I’m really thinking of upgrading to the Pixelbook in 2019, or even the Pixelbook 2 if it happens, simply because I love Chrome OS. It’s fast, it does what I want, and the upcoming support of Google Assistant and the upcoming Android Messages on the Web is giving me more and more reasons to continue to support this platform.
Will I install Steam on a Pixelbook? Maybe. Will I use Premiere Pro or Audacity on a Pixelbook? Maybe. But as of today, I can see no convincing argument to return to Windows, and honestly if I am to switch away from Chrome OS, it’s going to be to a macOS machine. Even then I see no reason to switch.
I do honestly believe Chrome OS is on track to become a real competitor to Windows, and it’s not a bad thing. We need more competition, especially with a web-centric platform.
I am currently using an Acer Chromebook R11, and I love it. Even Lewis from Unbox Therapy just recently reviewed the Surface Book 2 and the Pixelbook, and reported on Twitter that he reaches for the Pixelbook more often.
Am I saying you should throw away your Windows machine for a Chromebook or Chromebox on a whim? No. Absolutely not. However, at this point Chrome OS should very well be on your radar. You definetly should pay attention to this platform. Chromebooks, Chromeboxes, Chromebases, Chromebits, whatever kind of device you want to use.