What are ‘Chromebook’ laptops?
A few readers who’ve been pricing laptops for the holidays have been asking about Chromebooks, a relatively new category of inexpensive laptop computer.
With their low prices, small screens (about 11-12 inches) and emphasis on portability and versatility over power and performance, Chromebooks sound an awful lot like netbooks, which were all the rage a few years ago. But Chromebooks, introduced last year, don’t use Windows or Mac software. They use an operating system by Google and use free online services like Gmail, Google Drive (for Web-based data storage), YouTube and Picasa. Recent changes allow some of the services to be used offline when the machine’s not connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi or 3G. Relying so heavily on Internet services and not being able to run apps that run on Windows or Mac could be seen as drawbacks by some, however.
Models made by Samsung and Acer offer fast boot-up times — under 20 seconds — weigh about 3 pounds or less and are priced starting at $199. The concept got a boost last week when Samsung and Google announced that Chromebooks will be offered to public schools for $99 in partnership with DonorsChoose.org. Teachers can sign up to purchase up to 30 machines by applying to DonorsChoose before Dec. 21.
– Omar L. Gallaga