We’re a multi-racial family. We own Macs, Windows PC notebooks, and a Chromebook. This week I read an article comparing Chromebooks to Windows laptops— Apple calls the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks— and asked, “Which should you buy?” I am not fond of such articles because there is no way the tech writer can know the reader’s requirements, but I understand the attempt at comparison.
If all you need a notebook to do is browse the web, do some email, manage a calendar and reminders, then a cheap-assed Chromebook can do all that quite well and for less than a Windows 10 notebook, and certainly less than a Mac.
Mark Hachman’s comparison of the competition starts out with a well-meaning consideration of “Who should buy a Windows PC?”
A notebook PC powered by Microsoft Windows offers several advantages: Windows offers the most flexibility to run just about any app, as well as the choice of any browser you choose. You can tweak and configure your PC as you choose.
That’s just wrong.
A Windows PC will not run macOS, and while many of the Mac’s best apps have similar Windows app counterparts, the differences in productivity can be enormous. A Mac can run Windows 10 and most flavors of Linux inside macOS. At the same time. Windows can’t do that.
If you need anything that requires power– both hardware and software– a Chromebook is not what you want. Windows 10-based PCs have hardware comparable to a Mac and at comparable prices.
Then, “Who should buy a Chromebook?”
A Chromebook powered by Google’s Chrome OS is a simpler, more optimized affair, a locked-down PC that’s little more than the Chrome browser—but it can be hundreds of dollars cheaper
Similar horsepower to cheap-assed PCs, for much less money.
The key there is the term browser. That’s most of what a Chromebook is. Chrome. Google’s browser, sitting on top of Google’s version of Linux; all closed up nice and tight and secure, so there’s no need for the user to get dirty fingers figuring things out.
Chromebooks are perfect for simple tasks. Yes, you can spend MacBook Air-like money on a Chromebook– that advances the hardware capability– but you don’t get the same, well, power and capabilities of a similarly priced Windows 10 PC notebook and certainly not the capabilities of a Mac.
It all boils down to the age-old mix of #1, “What do you want to do?” and, #2, “How much money do you have?”
Most new Chromebooks can run Android apps which gives Chromebook a leg up on the number of apps it can run. Yet, most of the apps– over 2.7-million to date– are smartphone apps, not PC or Mac apps. Oh, and many of the apps, even by iPhone and iPad standards, are crappy. Yes, you do get what you pay for.
I was impressed by the total number of words in Hachman’s comparison, and one point that was overlooked.
Maybe that’s not much of a consideration for Windows PC notebooks which lose most of their value once you open the box and power up, so it can’t be better for a notebook that is half the price, but it is a consideration for Mac users. We value resale value. My Mac notebooks last me an average of five to six years, and then I hand them down to deserving family members or neighborhood kids. They can work well for another four or five years.
Try that on a Chromebook.