Why should I buy a Chromebook

Everyday check of the Chromebook: These are the advantages over classic notebooks

Daniel Behrens

What is a Chromebook anyway? And what are the differences to the classic notebook? The answers can be found in this article.

EnlargeFrom cheap to rotatable: Chromebooks are available for less than 250 euros, but also in higher-quality configurations, for example with a display that can be rotated 360 degrees.

At first glance, you can't tell the difference between a Chromebook and a classic notebook. But that changes suddenly when you switch it on. Because after a maximum of 6 seconds, a typical Chromebook has already started and you can get started.

This is because Chromebooks don't run Windows, but the Chrome OS developed by Google, which is related to Android. That means: You cannot install Windows programs, but you have access to hundreds of thousands of apps and games in the Google Play Store, which you know from Android smartphones. It also makes Chromebooks easy to use, fast, and secure.

The apps run in a window mode, so you can open and use several programs at the same time. But there are also apps that are specially optimized for Chromebooks, i.e. for the large screen and operation via keyboard and touchpad / mouse, for example Netflix and Photoshop. Some apps like Lightroom are almost identical to the Windows / Mac version, others like Photoshop are reduced to the essentials. MicrosoftOffice is also available and does not support all, but almost all, important functions.

EnlargeFamiliar windows even without Windows: Chrome OS applications and Android apps can be arranged individually on the desktop, as with other operating systems.

Chrome OS: Slim, fast, secure and energy efficient

Since Chrome OS is a slim operating system and not as bloated as Windows, it also runs on inexpensive hardware and is very energy-efficient, which is noticeable through a long battery life of up to 12 hours.
You can get Chromebooks for just under 250 euros. The Acer Spin 13, which we used to research this article, is a model for around 850 euros. But of course, as with smartphones, there are devices for around 1000 euros. We will soon explain the differences between the price ranges in another article. We'll also be giving away two Chromebooks, so subscribe to our free “Best-of-PC-WELT” newsletter so you don't miss the competition.

EnlargeUniversally usable: The Acer Chromebook Spin 13 has a touch display that can be rotated through 360 degrees and offers various options for use.

Endless apps thanks to access to the Google Play Store

Even if Windows programs don't run on Chromebooks, there's almost nothing that can't be done with them. Microsoft Office with Word, Excel and Powerpoint is available in the Google Play Store. Alternatively, you can simply use the pre-installed Google Docs, because it is free and all documents go straight to the cloud so that you can access them directly from any computer or smartphone. Plus, you won't have any data loss problem.
Would you like to use Office applications on the go when there is no WiFi available far and wide? No problem, because you can also edit your documents offline. Changes are automatically synchronized with the next online connection.

As mentioned at the beginning, you can also use many other apps with the Chromebook, for example Chrome, Skype, Maps, Mail, Outlook, Zoom, Photoshop, Lightroom, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and hundreds of thousands more. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are also available. The advantage of the apps compared to using the streaming pages in the browser: You can download films in the app and watch them offline. Watching films on the big screen in a hotel or on a plane is no problem.

Gambling with a Chromebook? No problem thanks to Google Stadia!

Where we are on the subject of leisure time. Many think that with a Chromebook - apart from game apps - you can't play properly. But that's only almost true. Because with the game streaming service Google Stadia you can also play current triple A titles such as PUBG, GRID, Red Dead Redemption II, Borderlands 3 and many more smoothly on the Chromebook.

EnlargeJust start playing, even with a Chromebook: thanks to Google Stadia, even graphically complex games like Red Dead Redemption II run smoothly.

Chromebooks have a tangible advantage over smartphones and tablets not only when playing games, but also with Office apps and image processing, namely keyboard and touchpad or optionally a mouse, which makes them extremely easy to use.

Security through sandbox and verified boot

Chrome OS is much more secure than Windows, for example. On the one hand, this is because it is not as widespread and therefore not a worthwhile target for hackers. But Google does a lot for it itself. For example, each browser tab and app runs in its own sandbox, i.e. in a restricted system environment. If a program or tab is infected with malware, nothing can spread. And then there is the Verified Boot feature, which scans the system elements when the system is started and automatically repairs or resets them in the event of problems. And updates are imported regularly and unnoticed in the background.

Everyday Chromebook Check: Our Experience

In our multi-day practical check, Chrome OS and the Chromebook have proven to be absolutely practical. There are no complex setting options as with Windows, but that is more of an advantage for most users.
The use in offline mode with the previously synchronized documents and emails also works without any problems. Older documents have to be selected for synchronization beforehand.

We were enthusiastic about the battery life, because it beats almost every Windows notebook in this price range with over 10 hours.
When it comes to not using Windows, we were a bit skeptical at first. But we couldn't find any standard everyday scenario that a Chromebook wouldn't cover. Writing texts, editing pictures, emails, messengers, video streaming, tax returns: everything works - and at lightning speed.

Gambling is not a problem either. We tried PUBG and GRID, among others, and were satisfied with the performance. You need a Stadia membership to do this, but you don't have to worry about the right gaming hardware to do so. Only those who, for example, want to do complex video editing, are absolutely dependent on special Windows or Mac programs or also want to play offline with their laptop, come up against their limits.