Google recently unveiled a new Chromebook. In his latest report, NY1's Adam Balkin explains what a Chromebook is, how it differs from a traditional laptop computer, and helps you decide whether or not to consider getting one.
Chromebooks can be kind of confusing devices and a bit in a category all their own. The brand new Google HP Chromebook 11 clearly looks and feels like a laptop with fun and convenient features, like a handful of colors to choose from and a micro-USB port for charging, same as most non-Apple phones. But, as it states in the name, it's a Google Chromebook, meaning it runs Google's Chrome operating system, not a Windows or a Mac OS. So getting one essentially means you are agreeing to use it for all things Google.
"You can customize all of the applications on there," says Andrew Bowers of Google. "So it comes built-in with Google apps, that's Google Docs, spreadsheets, everything you need to be productive, and a lot of other things included. You can include things from the Chrome web store."
Since so much of Google is online, the device tends to shine when connected to the Internet. For example, thanks to the cloud, if you lose the device, all you've lost is the physical device.
"If you log in to one Chromebook, set it up as yours, log out, log in to another Chromebook, all of your stuff is going to automatically sync and be there," Bowers says. "It's just like it's your own Chromebook."
We're at the point where seemingly every week, a cool new laptop or a cool new tablet is unveiled, often times, by the same company, like Google. So are we any closer to a definitive answer to the big question of, "If I just want to get one, which should I get?" Well, for the most part, no, but some industry watchers say Google might actually be hitting a sweet spot for parents making that decision.
"One thing about Chromebooks is the fact that they're so inexpensive," says Suzanne Kantra of techilicious.com. "It's a great way to start your kids off on a laptop. It gives them all those productivity apps they want, a little bit into the entertainment realm, but you can feel fairly self-assured that they're not going to stray too far. There are some parental controls built in there. So it's a nice first step."
Chromebooks typically cost around $250, and the new HP Chromebook 11, out now, falls pretty much in line with that at just around $280.