It’s time to stop thinking of a Chromebook as a disposable laptop.
Ask 10 people what they think of when you say Chromebook and you’ll find there is a common thread: a Chromebook is a cheap laptop. Sorry, but that ship has sailed.
Things might have started that way; companies making "regular" laptops would make a very cheap, very plastic, and very underpowered model and slap Chrome OS on it hoping for some impulse sales. It worked, too. Partially because they were so cheap and partially because even with the most basic low-end specs a Chromebook could still do what people thought it was supposed to do, which was to be "just a web browser." But Google always has said that Chrome OS was designed to be a complete computing platform, even though nobody really believed it.
Today, at the tail end of 2018, the Chromebook has finally achieved its purpose. Unless you are still looking for the elusive $100 model, that is. I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t be unless all you really want is "just a web browser."
Chromebooks can do anything you want to do in 2018, and more. Unless you get the cheapest one, that is.
You don’t have to spend $1,000 on a Chromebook. I’ll go a step further and say that most people shouldn’t spend $1,000 on a Chromebook, and if you are the type of person who should you already know it. Pixelbooks and Pixel Slates might look nice, and OMG Acer’s Chromebook Spin 13 is one amazing piece of sexy computer, but unless you need to use software like EAGLE or VeriCAD every day you won’t need the processing power that makes for a $1,000 Chromebook. With Google adding the ability to install Chrome, Android and standard Linux applications, you can do almost anything but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will.
There is a middle ground, thankfully. I’ve had more Chromebooks come across my desk than I can count, and while some stand out because they were too "cheap" and underpowered, and others stand out because they were more too expensive and built for a niche market, some actually stand out because they are perfect for most people to use as an everyday laptop. I have one of those in front of me right now in the Lenovo 500e and I can say without any reservations that it’s perfect for anyone who has to ask which Chromebook to buy.
Lenovo isn’t alone here, and you’ll find models from Samsung, ASUS, Acer, and more companies that might not be as flashy as something like the Pixelbook or as inexpensive as a used Acer C100 on eBay, but are still the right Chromebook for most people. You want something that can do the things you need it to do and will still feel the same way once it has reached the end of its six-year lifespan. A good Chromebook is one that will age well, both physically and by keeping up the ability to run the software well. It’s a formula that Apple
uses used to have for the MacBook Air and IBM used for the ancient Thinkpad before it. Build a model that’s premium enough to last, but don’t stuff it so full of specs so nobody can afford it.
Every company making Chromebooks now has a model with "good" specs, is well-built, and has the right price. That’s the best Chromebook for you.
Chromebooks aren’t the only products stigmatized this way. For years many considered Android phones as cheap things that people who couldn’t or didn’t want to buy an iPhone ended up with. Nevermind that you could always spend way too much money on a phone running Android because those models didn’t capture the mindshare the same way the phone that was free with a $200 pre-paid top-up card did. Windows was for nerds in glasses because television commercials said it was. Or the latest nonsense that iOS is for people who can’t figure out how to use Android because it’s simplified. None of that is true, but that doesn’t stop people from thinking that way.
I might not be able to stop you from thinking the same way about Chromebooks, but I’m going to try anyway. If you’re looking to buy one for yourself (or as a gift since the holiday season is closing in) do yourself a favor. Don’t focus on the lowest price, focus on the model that offers the features you want. You might spend a little more today but what you buy will last longer and make you happier, both today and down the road.
November 17, 2018 at 05:00AM