As time goes on, the amount of time spent on the internet has increased. A UK study shows in 2005 the estimated number of hours spent on the internet was 9.9 hours and had sharply increased in 2014 to 20.5 hours. Anecdotally, most users browse the internet casually reading news, checking social media for friend updates, and sending emails. None of these tasks require expensive hardware and most of the time you accomplish these tasks on your cell phone throughout the day.
Buy based on your needsEditing pictures, video, or playing computer games? Get a mid to high range computer with a graphics card. Anything else? Get a Chromebook! If over 95% of your time is spent inside of a web browser you will be able to save substantially by purchasing a Chromebook instead of a laptop. A decent laptop can range from $600-900. Mac laptop start at $1000 and just go up from there. A Chromebook? They start from $200 and go up based on how fantasy of one you want. Does an Apple computer really have $800 more in value for your needs? I have been using Chromebooks for two and a half years and have not spent over $250 on one. I have set up multiple websites, read ebooks, and done plenty of research all from my Chromebook. A couple of major limitations to point out, iTunes is not available, no disc drives, and no Skype [Chromebook uses Hangouts which is a worth while alternative].
Word processing, slide shows, and spread sheetsYou can do it all on a Chromebook! You can even do some simple photo editing via Google Draw. All of the tools you need as a college student are already built in. Because Chrome OS was created by Google, all of the G-Suite aka Google Docs (Google's web based MS Office) are available. The flexibility of Google's online programs even allow you to download your documents in as MS Word/Power Point/Excel documents or you can upload MS documents and convert them to Google Docs. With everything saved in the cloud using Google Drive, you have access to all of your data where ever you have access to a browser.
What to look for in a Chromebook?
- Processor: Anything Dual/Quad core
- Memory: No less than 4 GB
- Storage: 16 GB (Your stuff is stored in the cloud anyway)
The size of the Chromebook you chose is really where preference comes in. If you have large hands choose a 13 inch size or larger. One of the nice features of Chromebooks are their compact size and portability but it comes down to how your hands feel on the keyboard. Touch screen is also a popular feature.
Why I like my Chromebook?I own the first ASUS Flip shown above. It allows me to do everything I need to accomplish week to week. I can fold the keyboard back so it is like a tablet and read my ebooks. The battery life is 10+ hours. It never had to be turned off so when you open it up, it is ready to go. The build of this model mimics the MacBook Air styling making it look like a premium device. Placing all of my document and pictures in Google Docs/Drive gives me access to everything everywhere including my phone. There are no concerns of me losing my work because it is always backed up online.
Starting out Chromebooks did not have much popularity and struggled for the first couple of years. People are starting to realize the value they provide at their low price. They are easy to approach for all ages and levels of tech knowledge. In 2016 they FINALLY out sold Apple computers. If you are in the market for a new laptop, check out the underdog. They are great.