What are ‘Chrome­book’ lap­tops?

Austin American-Statesman - - LIFE & ARTS - In this space ev­ery week, we’ll de­fine a tech term, of­fer a timely tip or an­swer ques­tions about tech­nol­ogy from read­ers. Email ogal­laga@states­man.com

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

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