Our lives have become much more digital than they were just a decade ago. Smartphones and iPads are everywhere, and people spend their days surfing the web or checking their social media feeds. However, there's a class of devices that is often overlooked, but they may just be the right tool for you. They are Chromebooks. A spiritual descendant of last decade's Netbooks, Chromebooks are online devices that work ultra-efficiently with an operating system derived from Android and Google's Chrome browser. Should you be trading in your Android phone or tablet for a Chromebook? Let's find out.
1. It Can Run Any Android App
Google is working to ensure that all Android apps can run on Chrome OS. Given the similarity between the two, this isn't that difficult to do, but while that utopia isn't here yet there are platforms that let you run pretty much anything in the Play Store on your Chromebook, and you can do it today. Things like the ARCHon Package convert any Android app for use with Chrome OS, so there's no need to worry about a dearth of apps. Everything you love on Android, you can get on a Chromebook that's it.
2. Bigger Screen
Whether you're using a smartphone or a tablet, you'll often find you don't have enough screen real estate to see everything you need. Mobile versions of websites cut down on a lot of screen details, and they often resize a website into a smaller pared-down window with larger text. Worse, even today there are still some websites that aren't optimized for tablets or smartphones at all, and may have too small text that goes beyond the screen, forcing you to scroll left and right as you read. You can also forget about multiple windows. There's just not enough screen to go around. Chromebooks elegantly get around all these limitations, offering screens around the 12-inch or higher mark where smartphones cap off at around 6-inches, and tablets generally at 10-inches.
3. A Great Keyboard
Chromebooks were built as an alternative to Ultrabooks, and share all the portability of an Ultrabook along with its keyboard. While it's obviously not as portable as a tablet, the Chromebook makes up for it with a great built-in keyboard, something that many smartphone and tablet owners tend to miss after spending five minutes punching in an email or replying to a long post online. A real physical keyboard does wonders for typing, and it is the main reason for the next major bullet point.
4. Much Better Productivity
Tablets and smartphones are great for consumption, and if all you're doing is reading status updates or browsing websites you generally won't have a problem. But when you need to get down to do some real work or just need to be more productive, they are not suitable for the task. A Chromebook, with its large display and its full physical keyboard, is designed for productivity and computing and gives you the flexibility to work anywhere with an internet connection.
5. You Can Use a Mouse
With built-in touchpads and the option to connect a mouse, you can get used to an even more desktop-like environment with any Chromebook. Chrome OS offers all the support you need for touch screens and touchpads, but sometimes a real mouse is still better, and Chrome OS works much better with a mouse than the limited support Android tablets have for it.
6. USB is Easy
One of the main reasons you can easily use a mouse is because Chromebooks work with USB. You can use external things like a mouse because of the built-in USB support. For phones and tablets you typically still need to carry around a separate dongle, which just adds to the cost and makes your small portable package a lot less portable. Chromebooks need not worry about that as everything you need is right there. This makes the Chromebook capable of accessing your USB drive or external hard drive without a hitch, along with other tools that use the most widely-used interface standard today.
7. Ultra Affordable
Having less dongles also ties in to the main design conceit of Chromebooks: price. Originally conceived as a means of providing students short on their budget with a formidable computing device, the average Chromebook puts expensive Ultrabook capability into a budget price range, giving people an experience analogous to a MacBook Air or a Sony VAIO at a fraction of the cost. They are, incidentally, also significantly cheaper than many smartphones and tablets.
8. Better Performance
And taking into consideration the costing, Chromebooks generally offer much better performance than any smartphone or tablet at similar cost. You really do pay a premium for miniaturization, but Chromebook manufacturers can select parts that have the right cost savings from larger pools that fit into the body, whereas smartphone and tablet manufacturers may be more limited to choosing the smallest possible components. You get much better performance for the dollar, and that goes a long way.
9. Less Storage Needed
Tablets and smartphones have a lot of storage capacity these days, but even with a lot of storage these are easily filled up with pictures, media and apps. Bumping up your phone's storage space tends to add on to the cost quickly. Chromebooks, on the other hand, were designed to work optimally with very little space. That's because most of your applications and files are kept in the cloud. While smartphones and tablets do have similar capabilities, they're still a far cry from how lean the Chromebook is, with an OS that was designed from the ground up to run on very little storage, working in the cloud as a matter of fact.
10.You Get Real Desktop Apps like Office and Photoshop
Android has its own version of Microsoft Office, but it's an extremely limited version of the real thing. There are apps that approximate Photoshop, including Adobe's own Photoshop Express, but there's nothing like the real thing. While still not as full-featured as their Windows counterparts, Chrome OS has Office Online, which has all the features most people will need from Office, and Photoshop runs as a streaming Chrome OS app, so you are covered with all the important applications in a way that Android can't compete with.
With all of these benefits, it's almost a wonder why everyone isn't switching to Chromebooks from their smartphones. Seriously though, and without the fibbing, smartphones and tablets have their place just as Chromebooks do. But if the list above makes you feel that you could be doing more with your Android device but can't, it might be worth a look to check out what Chromebooks are available to you and how they fit into your digital lifestyle.