Why Chromebooks might still be your best laptop option

3 months ago 23
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Jack Wallen has been a supporter of Chromebooks for years and believes they are more relevant than ever. Find out why.

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Image: Jack Wallen

Let me just start by saying this: Windows 11 will not support your aging hardware. Machines with Intel 6th generation Skylake and earlier CPUs and non-Zen AMD processors will not meet the Windows 11 requirements. According to Microsoft, these processors don't meet the "principles around security and reliability and minimum system requirements for Windows 11." At the same time, Microsoft came out to say that Windows 11 would require Intel 8th gen Coffee Lake or Zen 2 CPUs.

So where's the love for 7th-gen processors?

To put it mildly, there's been a whirlwind of confusion surrounding what Windows 11 will and will not support. Suffice it to say, if your computer is about five years old, you'll have to purchase a new machine if you want to run Windows 11.

This means it's a perfect time to consider a Chromebook as your go-to mobile device.

Why? You've been using Windows forever. While I'd much rather convince you to make the switch to Linux, I know the reality is that most people have specific requirements for their operating system. Although I'm fairly confident Linux could meet those needs, I'm also even more certain Chrome OS is more than capable of meeting and exceeding the requirements of the average user. 

Let me explain.

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According to Canalys Data, during Q1 2020, there were a total of 3.198 million Chromebooks shipped. Q1 of 2021, saw a staggering 11.979 million units shipped. That's a staggering 275% growth in a single year. Now, let's take a look at a very surprising global market share statistic. According to Stat Counter, the global OS market share looks like this:

  • Android - 41.42%

  • Windows - 30.86%

  • iOS - 16.1%

  • macOS - 6.65%

  • Linux 1.01%

Understand that is the global market share, which is vastly different from, say, the U.S. market, which looks like this:

  • iOS - 29.72%

  • Windows - 29.15%

  • Android - 21.28%

  • macOS - 13.25%

  • Chrome OS - 3.66%

  • Linux - 1.13% 

If we look at these numbers individually, we might conclude that Chrome OS simply doesn't compete. If, however, we look at this as a whole, we see the landscape is vastly different than it once was. In both the global and U.S. markets, a mobile operating system tops the charts. In other words, mobile rules the land. Even though Chrome OS barely registers, let's consider what I stated earlier on: when Windows 11 is released, a lot of current hardware will not be supported. 

That means users have a few options:

  • Continue using Windows 10 until it reaches end of life.

  • Purchase a new computer that will support Windows 11

  • Migrate to another, cheaper option (like a Chromebook)

That last point is crucial. The world is just now crawling out from the shadow of a pandemic, which means (for so many) money is tight. After clawing out of this nightmare, no one wants to have to spend the money on a new computer, simply because an operating system upgrade is imminent. 

It's more than just cost

Of course, the cost of entry can't be the only reason to adopt a Chromebook. After all, Windows 10 is supported until October 14th, 2025. That's plenty of time. There's certainly more to it.

If you tried a Chromebook during the early stages of its existence, you might have concluded that you needed more than just a browser, and a laptop that required a constant connection was a deal-breaker. For that I have two immediate responses:

  1. Chrome OS is now much more than "just a browser." You can run Android apps, Linux apps and enjoy added features that even make it possible to more easily interact with your Android devices.

  2. Internet connectivity is everywhere. If you live or work in a place without internet connectivity, you're probably not using a computer in the first place. On top of which, Chrome OS can work offline.

I have two Chromebooks: a 2015 Pixel (which has reached its EOL) and a 2019 Pixelbook. I still use both (I cannot give up on the Pixel screen and keyboard) to great effect. I run both Android and Linux apps on each, which elevates the usability for me. With those Chromebooks, I can do just about anything—the big exception being video editing. 

Let's talk about cost. Look at ASUS and their top-of-the-line laptops for Windows and Chrome OS.

The ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro 17 with an Intel Xeon E-2276M (which is not the fully-specced version of this machine) sells for nearly $10,000. That machine will support Windows 11. On the other end of the spectrum, the ASUS Chromebook Flip CM5, sporting an AMD Ryzen 3 3250C runs just under $500.

Now, most people aren't going to drop $10,000 on a Windows laptop. The average user would probably balk at paying $500 for a Chromebook, but they would certainly be more willing to drop that amount of coin before they'd spend a few months mortgage for a laptop.

What if you considered the purchase of laptops at the same price point. Say you have $500 to spend on a laptop (give or take some taxes and/or shipping). You could purchase that high-end ASUS Chromebook that will perform like a champ for years to come. Or, you could buy a low-end Windows laptop that may or may not accept the new Windows 11 upgrade and will probably be on the sluggish side of performance. 

Which do you choose? 

If you're smart, you go with the Chromebook, knowing you'll have a hassle-free experience that will run blazing fast and avoid malware and other nasties that plague Windows.

I get it: Chromebooks aren't for everyone. However, they are the perfect laptop for the average user who spends an overwhelming majority of their time in a web browser. So many assumed Chrome OS was nothing but a toy when it first came to market, but it has clearly proved many wrong. Google created something the people actually needed—even when they had no idea the need was even there. Given how seamlessly Chrome OS integrates with Google's cloud tools, it really is a no-brainer for so many.

Chromebooks are a smart choice for today's users. They're cheap, foolproof, performant, and last far longer than the competition. If you're in the market for a new laptop, you'd be remiss if you didn't first look into these mobile marvels.

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