A Quick Guide to Chrome OS, Chromebook, and Chromebox

It hasn’t really been that long since the Chromebook was introduced. In fact, I can still remember going to BestBuy in 2011 and asking to see a Chromebook, only to be met with quizzical looks. But today, the Chromebook dominates computer sales and can be seen everywhere in schools, colleges, and workplaces across the world.

How is the Chromebook, and its cousin, the Chromebox, different from PC?

Well, for one, they run on Google’s web-based operating system, Chrome OS and are meant to be used with an internet connection. Sure, they can be used offline as well, but in a reduced capacity, like any computer these days. Everything done on Chrome OS is connected to Google Drive, so any documents or apps on Chromebook exist in the cloud as well.

When Chrome OS was launched, it was met with a myriad of skepticism. While it still has its share of critics, the fact is that people are finally seeing Google’s open-source, Linux-based operating system and its full potential. Chrome OS is available on Chromebook and Chromebox, made by several manufacturers, the most prominent of them being Samsung, HP, Acer and Asus.

While Chrome OS started off mainly as a browser-based operating system, it has grown in stature since them and supports packaged applications that can run offline just as well as they run online. That means Chrome today can work in every setting, home, office, college, or the closest Starbucks.

What is a Chromebook?

Chromebook is basically an internet-dependent laptop that takes just 3-5 seconds to start up – which is a fraction of what a Windows-based PC would take. There is just one native app on a Chromebook, and that’s the Google Chrome browser. Google Chrome is integral to everything you do on Chromebook. Everything on Chromebook consists of web apps – emails, documents and photos.

Web apps are apps that run only when you’re connected to the internet. The Chromebook only requires a small 16GB hard drive, as everything is stored on the cloud. Google makes 100GB worth cloud storage available to you, and you can buy more if you need to.

The great thing about saving everything on the web is that you can access it from any computer and you don’t have to worry about losing your data if the Chromebook crashes or you forget it at home. Chromebooks are portable with screens in the range 10-15 inches and weight starting at 2.5lbs!

They are fast and run on a variety of processors such as the Celeron processors and the Intel Core i3. The RAM on Chromebooks ranges from 2GB to 4GB+ in capacity.

What is a Chromebox?

Chromebox is basically a PC (personal computer) that runs on Chrome OS. It is the desktop version of the Chromebook. Just like the Chromebook, Chromebox also supports a single application, just the Google Chrome browser and depends on the internet for software functionality and on the cloud for data storage.

Chromeboxes are small, square in shape and very easy to move around. They usually don’t come with keyboards or display monitors, since most people already have a set laying around at home. They consist of a power switch and a set of HDMI and DisplayPort so that they can be hooked up to external monitors. Most have 4 USB ports and an SD card drive.

Chromebox is are much cheaper than the Chromebook due to no display or keyboard. You are essentially buying just the “brain” without the body. Generally, the cheapest Chromebox is cheaper than the comparable Chromebook, and the higher end Chromebox is also cheaper than a higher end Chromebook with comparable specs. Chromeboxes have wireless capacity which puts them at an advantage over budget desktop PCs.

So, should you get a Chromebook or Chromebox?

They are just like regular notebooks for the most part – except for the Chrome OS. Learning how to use a Chrome OS shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Most people can figure them out within minutes, and questions can easily be answered with a quick Google Search.

Ok, what do they cost?

Chromebooks start at just $165 for a basic (Acer Chromebook), $250 for mid range (Toshiba Chromebook), and $260+ for higher end models (HP Chromebook 14). That’s pretty good when you compare them to PC or Mac. Chromebox starts at just $137 for a basic model (Asus M004U) and tops out around $300 for a higher end model with Intel i3 (Asus M107U). That’s a killer deal for the speed and performance you will get out of it.

Posted OCT 24TH 2015

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