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Google Chromebooks vs. traditional laptops?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / March 29, 2013 9:37 AM PDT
Question:

Google Chromebooks vs. traditional laptops? What's the difference?


Please excuse my ignorance, as I'm not a technical person or am I a tech savvy individual. What I do know is that I'm in the market for a new laptop to replace an old rust bucket laptop that weighs more than I can care for. While looking on the Internet, I happen to read some article talking about some new laptop being released by Google. Huh, isn't Google a search page? Since when did they make laptops? Anyway, I've had a Dell laptop in the past, a Toshiba now, and looking to get a new one. Since there are a lot more variety these days, is a Google laptop something I should consider? Is there something special about these Google laptops that make them better or worse than others? I primarily use my laptop to get on the Internet, e-mail friends, listen to music, watch movies, do my taxes, among a few other tasks, but nothing heavy duty. Please advise. Thanks!

--Submitted by Megan K.
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Hey Megan, have you heard of Android?
by marcus_r / March 29, 2013 11:31 AM PDT

Google created Android to compete with proprietary smart phone OSs (operating systems) like IOS (Apple iPhone). Chromebooks are similar to Android phones (sort of) in that they are designed to be used as "Cloud clients". That is, most of the software you will use will be in the form of web based apps. Chromebooks generally don't come with hard drives like traditional laptops but they do have some limited amount (in comparison to traditional laptops) of storage. If you are a Windows user, you will not be able to run any of your favorite Windows applications on a Chromebook, since they are primary intended to run web-based apps and will need a web connection in order to do most tasks. In sort think of the Chromebook as a tablet computer that looks like a laptop. Limited to mainly web browsing, sending email, and running web apps. And it won't run Turbo Tax (except the Web Version) if you use that to do your taxes.

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Except there's a difference between Android and Chrome...
by Wolfie2k5 / March 29, 2013 2:38 PM PDT

And that difference would be the fact that Android DOES allow you to download files for later consumption - you can also download games (Angry Birds anyone?), music files, etc... It will work when you don't have an internet connection handy where as Chrome will not.

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You can get a data plan with a chromebook.
by orlbuckeye / April 4, 2013 10:02 PM PDT

I have the prototype and it has the option to activate the Verizon data plan just like tablets that aren't wifi only and smartphones. You can also download applications from the chrome store. You can also download the same apps from the chrome store in windows using the chrome browser.

The basic difference between Chromebooks and traditional is the traditionals usually have more power(memory, faster processors, hard drive space and higher resolution screen (until the pixel) , they can run apps locally (desktops apps) and Browser apps.

The major advantage of chromebooks is cost and they are good for surfing and email as lost as it's a imapi email account.

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download and storage
by RogelioContraire / October 21, 2013 5:58 PM PDT

So Chrome does not allow download at all? Can one connect an external drive to a Chromebook and store files on the external drive, instead of only the cloud?

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Crossposted.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 21, 2013 6:08 PM PDT
In reply to: download and storage
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The original Q
by RogelioContraire / October 22, 2013 1:16 AM PDT
In reply to: Crossposted.

I went and read pages and pages on the site you sent me to, but the basic question I posed is not answered. Can one download onto an external drive with a Chromebook? It is such a simple Q. Why is this so complicated for a geek? Do you work for microsoft? God. This is so simple a Q.

Yes or No? Two or three letters. That's all I ask.

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The short answer is no.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 22, 2013 2:52 AM PDT
In reply to: The original Q

While some offline work is possible and noted, if you want a laptop you should get one.

What's the attraction?
Bob

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Good job, Marcus!
by Franckdeban / March 30, 2013 10:51 AM PDT

Just some more info regarding the Chbook specs:

- Storage amount on the Chbook is: 16GB
- But you have the max storage on the "Cloud": 100GB
- Automatic files back-up: no file loss
- No built-in hard-drive: Chbook is faster (also has a light shape)
- No virus threat: This concern is monitored via cloud
- More data security

[In general view: The Cloud option is a web-based data storage with the advantage of accessing, sharing and downloading your data from any other pc and from any geographical world location.]

Chbook disadvantage: I may just repeat what already advised by Marcus:
"If you are a Windows user, you will not be able to run any of your favourite Windows applications on a Chromebook, since they are primary intended to run web-based apps and will need a web connection in order to do most tasks..."

Good luck & HAPPY EASTER
<div> HappyLove
</div>

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No..
by bleachigo / April 1, 2013 7:03 AM PDT
In reply to: Good job, Marcus!

A chromebook is much much much slower for storage, and a paperweight without wifi. Probably at least 10x slower assuming you have a perfect and fast Internet connection, if not around 50x slower wouldn't be surprising.

You can get a laptop with an ssd that is faster than any hard drive, and much faster than the cloud constantly being used to redownload files.

I should also add, that every single "advantage" the chromebook offers (such as the automated file backups, access from other devices) can be replicated for free with your own old laptops or desktop computers, private services, etc..

In response to the virus aspect, it's twofold reasoning. 1: almost nobody uses the chromebook, so programmers don't waste their time. 2: almost nothing is actually stored on then, so again programmers don't waste their time.

These types of "computers" really won't be decent until everywhere has high speed free wifi, and even then you will still be slower and more limited than you would be with a regular system, because they are basically expensive Web browsers.

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Exactly
by libertyunderlaw / April 12, 2013 2:03 PM PDT
In reply to: No..

Even when free wifi is available, have you ever lost your connection "just because"? Granted, that is usually a hardware failure inside the laptop.

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Not really
by MichaelRayE / July 19, 2013 4:17 AM PDT
In reply to: No..

I agree that Chromebook has disadvantages compared to a regular laptop with Windows so this may be a down fall to buying one but keep in mind that its a $200-300 geared for simplistic browsing, email and processing. There should be no critics because its not like its advertising itself to being something it's not so I encourage buyers to actually read what it can and not do because most the complaints are about issues not listed as be currently able to do.

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Cloud computing
by libertyunderlaw / April 12, 2013 2:00 PM PDT
In reply to: Good job, Marcus!

The basic premise of Cloud Computing is that people want everything on the internet. In reality, this is not at all a new concept. This is little more than a reboot of the 60's version of the Mainframe/client computer model before PCs existed. In 2001, I attempted to help a friend prepare old IBM computers (what would now be called "All in one's" for distribution to public school families in Flint, MI for education purposes. The idea is that they could access their needed info via the internet. This was way back in 2001 using old computers styled after the old Macs (remember the big bricks)?

Just wanted to give some perspective.

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This concept won't work for most people
by Chigal48 / April 12, 2013 4:08 PM PDT
In reply to: Cloud computing

I can understand if this product is being used strictly for grade school kids (sort of like that wind-up PC) but for professionals and working people, it seems to be very limited. Like someone above mentioned, "what if?" you can't get to your cloud stored information (it's happened to me). The other concern I have is privacy, having all your information online makes it open to hackers and the company hosting it. As much as competitors want to kill MS Windows, the Office Suites has so many features that are needed by scientists, engineers, and business owners. When you think about Excel, for example, a lot of statistical information can be manipulated. With Word, you do mail merge. Windows is still a force to be reckoned with.

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(NT) I totally concur
by tigerdaddo / April 20, 2013 3:12 AM PDT
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Chromebook is a very secure format for Internet access
by Aseriesguy / April 13, 2013 1:24 AM PDT
In reply to: Good job, Marcus!

The reason Chromebook is nearly invulnerable to malware attack is there is nothing to attack. If your device seems to be infected a quick reload from the Cloud and what ever it was, if anything, is gone. Your data in the Google cloud is washed, rinsed and dried in realtime. But as a caveat...any thought that there is privacy or security on the Internet or anywhere in the modern world is a childish illusion. All we can do is work to reduce our exposure. Here is a thought...Keep your webcam lens covered when not in use. You don't know who might be watching.

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netbook?
by clamoreaux / April 12, 2013 2:39 PM PDT

It appears to me that Chromebook is a lot like netbooks, only with a larger screen. Remember them?

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I have a netbooks
by Chigal48 / April 12, 2013 4:09 PM PDT
In reply to: netbook?

I have a PC netbooks and I have stored OpenOffice on the hard drive as the Suites program. I use it when I travel and when I'm in remote meetings. Love it.

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Netbooks R 4ever
by Aseriesguy / April 13, 2013 1:41 AM PDT
In reply to: netbook?

I have a DELL Mini 9 I have been using and enhancing for a while. My son got one that came with 2 GB RAM and 8GB SSD and Ubuntu. He turned into a Hackintosh when that was all the rage. After his fascination with the iHole faded he gave it to me. I bumped the RAM to 4GB and the SSD to 32GB. I added a high speed 32 GB SD card. I replaced the Broadcom WiFi with Intel WiFi/Bluetooth. It ran Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8 nicely but I went back to Windows 7. I use Google Docs for office type work. I used to use Open Office but it became a storage hog just like Mess Office. I can play some of my older 3D games such as Max Payne. Screen resolution is 1024 by 768 thanks to a little registry hack. I have given up on Linux. Windows 7 has it beat. If there is no WiFi at hand I use a USB tethering program with my Android phone to get on 3G. I have a hi-cap battery as spare so I can stay off AC for at least 6 hours.

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Netbook
by efpedro / April 13, 2013 7:22 AM PDT
In reply to: netbook?

I own an Asus Eee PC netbook w/ 250GB HDD that I use for work. It is relevant.
Your comparison is invalid for my netbook. You are referring to the first generation of netbooks.
Chromebook is useless and irrelevant.

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Java and Flash in chromebooks
by aloffredo / April 12, 2013 6:52 PM PDT

Dear Marcus, can you tell me whether a chromebook can run flash and java applications, normally launched through the browser in windows and linux machines? Thanks

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From what i read
by orlbuckeye / April 16, 2013 10:30 PM PDT

Flash is supported but Java not.

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The difference...
by Wolfie2k5 / March 29, 2013 2:33 PM PDT

Traditional laptops operate like any other traditional computing device. They have an operating system, you boot the system and you can work directly regardless of what, if any network connectivity you have access to. You save your work files on your local hard drive and have access to them even if there isn't an internet connection available. You can download files (MP3s, videos, etc...) for access at a later time when you're not on line.

You have options with traditional hardware. You can use Windows, OSX or even Linux should you want to have the choice. You have your choice in programs as well. You can use MS Office, Libre Office, Open Office. Corel Wordperfect Office, etc... - whatever you like best. Ditto for any other class of applications you might have a need for.

A Chromebook, on the other hand, is a somewhat different beast entirely. It looks like a traditional laptop in it's general form and design. but that's where the similarity ends.

A Chromebook has a different operating system - ChromeOS which is based on Linux. The system does NOT allow for any local storage of files. In order to work with a Chromebook you must be able to connect to the Internet in order to run the apps that are available to you. The apps in question open files in cloud storage and save them to the cloud when you're finished with them. You're limited to the apps available for ChromeOS.
The one thing ChromeOS brings to the party is the fact that changes you make are instantly saved to cloud storage. There was a somewhat famous demo video created for Chromebook when it was first released. A guy started a project on one Chromebook, did something to a file, then the laptop was taken away and destroyed. A new laptop was provided, he punched in his user ID and password and was instantly able to pick up where he left off. He made another modification to the file he was working on. The 2nd laptop was taken away and destroyed. A third was furnished, lather, rinse, repeat - and the file with both modifications was there. They repeated this like 10 times until he finally finished what he was doing but at each step, the file was still there, where he left off on the previous machine.
This is kind of cool if you have an infinite supply of Chromebooks but seriously, how often do you have someone take your laptop away and destroy it after you do something on it? I'm thinking NOT very often. Most of us at least make the effort to take care of our hardware so it lasts somewhat longer than 5 minutes. If someone tried to take away my hardware as they did in that video, I'd likely be the one destroying THEM.
The bottom line - if you're always going to be in a location where you have access to the internet, then you're good to go. But if you want to go out in the middle of nowhere and say write the next great American novel, you're probably going to want a real laptop - Windows or OSX.

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The difference...contd..
by Kingskerswell2 / April 12, 2013 1:01 PM PDT
In reply to: The difference...

Good synopsis. I also need to replace my aging windows based HP laptop. Strike chromebook off for me. A tablet is also not an option as I use applications that are not available in tablet form and tapping the screen may be good for many functions but will not work for me. I hope I won't be too late to pick up a decent laptop as many reports seem to mark the laptop as a present day dinosaur....

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There are other issues
by Flatworm / April 12, 2013 10:13 PM PDT
In reply to: The difference...

When you store the data in the cloud, you are forfeiting property rights to that data. It is no longer private. If that's not an issue to you, I am left to wonder why not.

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Great Job Wolfie2k5!!
by carlycfs / April 12, 2013 10:20 PM PDT
In reply to: The difference...

This is reallllllllllllly an awesome post, response, user review, by Wolfie2k5!! These types of responses help one to appreciate the generosity and integrity of humans on the WWW! Take care to all here on CNET - - MoneyMan gone!

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Chromebook v Laptop
by Angiec333 / March 29, 2013 2:59 PM PDT

Hi Megan,

Google's chromebook, is a bit of a dead end I think, granted there are over 500,000 apps, but you can't use your Windows Software on it, as it runs a custom version of "Linux" better know as Android!

The CB has very little hardware inside compared to a Laptop. I.e. it has no HDD, DVD Drive, can't be upgraded if you decide you need extra Ram.

Also, it really needs internet access, so you can be productive?

There is a small amount of internal Flash memory around 16GB, so at first it seems enough storage for some multimedia content.

However this items achillies heel, is having to upload any other content you want to use to Google's servers in cloud land!, and ISPs residential uploads speeds are dreadful.

To sum up, you can't play or rip CDs/DVDs - discs as there is no optical drive, it will struggle with any CPU intensive tasks, also it can't write to HDD if low on ram, like a conventional laptop.

Will be ideal if your on the move a lot and want to keep up to date with social media, E-mail, browsing , mp3s, acc music files , AVI ,Xvid - videos files (if you can store a decent collection on its internal flash memory) along with some very light gaming (angry birds etc...)

Totally agree with Marcus R who compares it to a tablet that looks ike a laptop... really its not much use without an internet connection, as it was designed so the user could sync and store there local data in the "cloud" / Google's servers.

Don't get me wrong you may like this idea?

I would buy a modern entry level laptop, around £250_£300 GBP if I had to choose.

Good luck

Regards , Angela.Cusack

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@Angie,
by btljooz / March 30, 2013 4:33 AM PDT
In reply to: Chromebook v Laptop
Google Chrome OS and Android are two different operating systems. However, you are correct that Google Chrome OS is based on the Linux kernel. So is Android. Read about these two OSes by clicking on their names. As for running Windows based apps on Linux, in general that CAN, in deed, be done through Wine. There are other ways of doing this, but they are generally more technically complex.

You and Marcus are absolutely correct about the Chromebook being little more than an over-glorified tablet they is basically meant to be nothing more than a portal to The Cloud....Google's Cloud.

Now, if one trusts someone else with one's personal information (I, personally, do NOT...this is a subject for another discussion) and one doesn't have the need for running CDs/DVDs, etc. but does want a Tablet that is just a teensy bit more than a Tablet then the Chromebook could work. But, if one wants a fully functional computer then you need to look towards a regular laptop or desktop computer. We do agree on that point.

I hope this clears the mud rather than creating more.
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Actually...
by Wolfie2k5 / April 12, 2013 3:14 PM PDT
In reply to: @Angie,

2 things...

1.) You can't run Windows apps via WINE on a Chromebook. ChromeOS does not allow installation of anything on the Chromebook.

2.) The Chromebook is not a glorified tablet. Android, which IS a tablet OS, allows for local storage. Chromebook does not. Tablets also, by their definition also include a touch interface, while ChromeOS does not.

Chromebooks are best likened to what used to be called a "Dumb Terminal" - though Chromebooks are a bit more sophisticated than that. They have more than a mono 80 column terminal screen and a keyboard. Chromebooks at least do color and have a GUI, have wifi and the means to connect to the Internet.

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You Don't Know A Thing About ChromeOS!
by iSamsung2u / April 21, 2013 3:01 AM PDT
In reply to: @Angie,

Seems like 90% of those here against Google ChromeOS don't have the slightest idea how it all works and should get an edjumacation or however you ignorant fools spell it. Sure you can't run WINE in ChromeOS but many Apps (programs and applications) are being ported to Google's 'Native Client'. Which is a means of running any program whether native to Windows, Linux or Game Consoles can be run in ChromeOS's fully cross platform web browser. There are many games and companies like Adobe are working to port Photoshop to it. It can run these Apps either when you're online or simply save all the data for the next time you have a connection.

You people have to realize that Google Cloud Drive is a whole lot bigger than the drive in your computer. It also has main frame like power to compute and on top of all that, it's encrpted so your remains always your data. It's all piped through a Secure Hypertunnel to your specific space and isn't unencrypted, until YOU call it back down and your machine and account ID are the ones with the key to unencrypt it when it arrives. It's actually better than being on a local drive. Because if it fails, it's all continually backed up live in your particular cloud drive space. Security is always at NSA Level 5 and 6, the security levels available today!

Google ChromeOS has yet to be ever fully hacked, as opposed to every other OS taking it on the chin in a 1st Round Knock Out! .....you can't get better security and that's why the Military uses Google Services like Maps, etc. Now with NSA SE Security Enhanced Linux Kernel..... everybody can have both Militarily Hardened Security and the peace of mind that goes with that on a Chromebook!

As for the fool belows accusation of ChromeOS being no better than a dumb terminal....... hahaha..... it's just such a ridiculous claim. ChromeOS can run on any hardware platform you want it to. Whether it's on ARM chips, Intel or AMD. You can even run ChromeOS on a full top of the line i7 chip and there is no terminal software from any company like Microsoft or Apple that can do that!!! .....it is for all intents and purposes a full fledged working SE Linux Kernel wrapped up in a Security Blanket. Don't forget, that using ChromeOS to access your Home Computer via Secure VPN is now ridiculously simple using Chrome Browser's new simply wonderful 'Remote Desktop' App. Available in the Chrome Store!!! .....so even if you can't run a native Program on your Chromebook, you can easily run from your Home Computer via it's Secure Hypertunnel VPN Connection!!! ;-P

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Hey
by bleachigo / April 1, 2013 7:10 AM PDT
In reply to: Chromebook v Laptop

Don't insult android like that, Silly it is actually an os with full features, a chromebook is more like a web browser.

Today there are very nice ultrabooks on the market that can do everything you need them too, PLUS of four some reason you actually like the chromebook idea, they can do everything it can do too..

So its basically pathetic compared to a real computer running linux, Android, Windows, ios, osx..

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