Google has been touting its Chrome operating system for a while, and now the
first computers running that OS, made by Samsung and Acer, are available for
These Chromebooks are being advertised as an alternative to Windows or Linux
based netbooks, but what are the advantages and disadvantages? The Chrome OS is
based on Linux but it’s basically a web browser. Therefore, it runs only web-
based applications. You can’t install other Linux applications on it. The only
“real” (locally installed) application on it is the browser, which looks
(unsurprisingly) like the Chrome browser that you can install on Windows or Mac.
It’s a very minimalist approach and that makes it lightweight and efficient in
terms of system resources. It makes for a quick boot-up process. It also limits
what you can do with it.
Don’t confuse Chrome OS with Google’s popular mobile operating system, Android.
They are very different. You can’t run Android apps on Chromebooks. Chrome (like
Android) will run on ARM processors and will also (like Windows) run on x86
machines, but it’s designed for low powered, “secondary” computers – not for the
desktop or to be used as your primary/only computer. There is no “desktop” on a
Chromebook – everything happens in the browser. And because they rely on the web
for their applications, Chromebooks are very dependent on Internet connectivity.
Some Chrome apps (games, Google Docs) can be used offline but in general, you
need to be connected. Your data is stored “in the cloud.”
As with tablets (and some notebooks), Chromebooks come in both 3G/wi-fi and wi-
fi only models. Interestingly, the 3G models come with 100 MB of free data per
month through Verizon Wireless. If you want/need more, you pay for it. The good
news is that you don’t have to sign a contract; the data plan is “pay as you
go.” Interestingly, I saw nothing about an Ethernet port in the specs. For a
device that’s so dependent on having an Internet connection, that seems odd to
The cost of the currently available Chromebooks ranges from $349 (the Acer wi-fi
only model) to $$499 (the Samsung 3G model). Now let’s compare that to a typical
netbook or notebook running Windows 7. First of all, you can find a Windows 7
netbook for at least $100 less. Best Buy offers an HP Mini netbook with a gig of
RAM and a 160 GB hard drive, running Windows 7 Starter Edition, for $249. In
fact, for the same price as the lowest-priced Chromebook, you can get a full-
fledged HP notebook computer with an AMD processor, 3 GB of memory and a 320 GB
hard drive. It runs Windows 7 Home Premium Edition. Of course, you can probably
find sales and online deals to get an even better price.
This excerpt is shared with permission from Win7News.net.
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