Need a laptop? Get a Chromebook

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By Chris Guld, Geeks on Tour
A few years ago I wrote an article for RVtravel.com titled, “A Chromebook may be your best travel laptop.” I’m wondering if anyone followed my advice to buy a Chromebook for your next laptop. If so, please leave a comment below and tell us how you like it.

I have now bought my third Chromebook, and they only keep getting better. It’s fast. It boots up in a split second. The battery lasts all day. All I have to do is log in with my Google account and I have all my stuff. My Google Photos, Google Drive files, Gmail, and anything I can access from a web browser is all there.

But, that’s not all. Since my Chromebook can also install Android Play store apps, I can work on files offline. Microsoft Office has an Android app for working with Word, Excel and PowerPoint. If I didn’t need to do serious video editing, I could get by with a Chromebook as my only computer.I love editing my photos on my Chromebook. I use the Android apps for Google Photos and Snapseed. Snapseed is easy and wonderful for editing my photos on my phone – add to that the big screen of the Chromebook and I’m in heaven. I paid $600 for my new ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 and it’s almost as good as my $2,500 Microsoft SurfaceBook – better since it can use Android apps.

What exactly is a Chromebook?

First of all, it is a laptop. Check out the listings from Amazon below – if they didn’t tell you it was a Chromebook, you’d think it was a Windows or a Mac laptop. They have full keyboards, some with backlighting, many of them have touchscreen monitors and can be folded back or detached to use like a tablet. They have USB ports so you can plug in a mouse, an external monitor, or any other USB attachments. I keep mine on the couch and it is my go-to machine for entertainment. Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, or YouTube works so well. If I want to see it on the big-screen TV, I just use Chromecast to cast from laptop to TV.

For RVers with casual computer needs, one Chromebook may be all you need for two people. You can add multiple users to the Chromebook, each with their own login. When you first turn it on, you have a choice of which user gets signed in. If I sign in as me, I’m seeing my email, my photos, my favorites, my apps, and my documents. When my husband signs in on the same machine, he sees his stuff. It’s just a couple of clicks to change from one account to another. And, if you want to give it to one of the grandkids, there is a “Use as Guest” option, so any of your stuff is protected. Chromebooks are the most secure type of device also, so there’s no worry about the grandkids (or you) clicking on something that installs a virus. In the extremely rare case of malware on a Chromebook, you can always do a factory reset as shown in the video below.

The main thing to understand is that they run on the Chrome OS operating system. They cannot run Windows software or Mac software – they’re in their own world called Chrome OS. One program that I use constantly in my video business is Camtasia. It is a Windows software and can’t be run on a Chromebook; therefore I still need a Windows computer, and I relegate the Chromebook to the couch.

One other feature of Chromebooks is called “Powerwash” and it does a factory reset of your device in minutes. Then, as soon as you sign in with your Google account, it sets about restoring all your options and apps. In no time at all, you’re back in business. Check out this video:

If we can ever get off the couch again, I’ll definitely be taking my Chromebook on the road.

Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She and her husband, Jim, produce a free weekly YouTube show called What Does This Button Do?  They have been Fulltime RVers, popular seminar presenters at RV Rallies, and regular contributors to RVTravel.com, for many years.

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Michael
2 months ago

Don’t Chromebooks store data on the internet? What are boondockers and other to do when there is no internet signal?

Mr. Pat
2 months ago

We have had a chrome for many many years for my wife’s daily stuff. The issue is it will not print to a printer that won’t go on line. Perhaps an internet driver box could be installed on the printer. I had one years ago. I will not give up my old HP laser printers. I have four of them now. They run so cheap. So she emails to me when she needs something printed.

chris p hemstead
2 months ago

Samsung CB here, had it about 5 years. When I need storage I use a thumbdrive. Never print anything.

Chuck
2 months ago

I have a Samsung Chromebook with a 15.6″ screen, same as most laptops. Paid $300 for it a few months ago. I can use it for 75-80% of what I do on a computer, and I’m a computer teacher. 🙂 I love the battery life. I get 8-10 hours per charge. So using it for 1-3 hours a day, you can see it only needs to be charge a couple times a week. It’s fast too, boots up in just a few seconds. Runs apps nice and quick. If you’re thinking of buying one, you don’t have to settle for the tiny screens that many have. There are nice ones with 14″ screens, or you can go up to a 15.6″ like I did. While it can’t be my only computer right now because of my occupation, it handles any of my online and video watching needs.

Alan Goldberg
2 months ago

I can run all the Google programs in my Windows machine. Can Chromebook run all the Windows programs?

Chuck
2 months ago
Reply to  Alan Goldberg

Nope, a Chromebook can’t run any Windows programs. But there are usually alternatives that do run on the Chromebooks. You can run Office 365 from the cloud, but you can also use Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides as MS-Office alternatives. And they run much faster than on most PC’s.

Tom
2 months ago

I purchased a Chromebook, and use it only for financial transactions. With no reported viruses attacking the Chrome OS, I feel safe, as opposed with MS and Apple systems. If a virus gets into my MS machines, there is nothing there of value to steal.

Patricia Panuccio
2 months ago

I am on my second Chromebook. I love them.

Wolfe
2 months ago

I have to endorse ANYTHING that gets you away from Windows or Apple. The reasons are too numerous, but just this morning W10 declared blocking Microsoft’s monitoring via a host file as a “virus”… while throwing the security policies WIDE open to install actual virii… nice try, Microsoft! Apple has monitored and controlled your computer for years, so I can’t give them any more credit.

What Chris here indirectly mentioned is that ChromeOS is in fact a variant of Linux… which you can safely install for free on almost any PC… You too can be virus proof, unmonitored, and FAST, even without new hardware. There is always a small learning curve with any new system, but versions like Ubuntu and (my fave) Mint make it pretty easy for non-technical folks. I’m more technical, so I replaced spinning disks with SSD and tweak my power settings on my “full grunt” laptop to rival Chromebook’s — but can still process those big videos when needed…

Tony Grigg
2 months ago

I’ve been a CB user for several years and love them. Use one awhile and you’ll never be happy with Windows again … if you ever were. In my view, Acer is the king of the CB world. Great variety of models at really good prices, and reliable too.

Mike Sherman
2 months ago

I bought one years ago, loved it, but you could not connect a printer. Perhaps they have improved.

rick kanatzar
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike Sherman

my chromebook 15 connects easily with my epson printer wirelessly. it was easy to connect and works!

Cushman Phillips
2 months ago

I have been using a Samsung 500c since 2016 and for less than $200.00 it is a bargain. I use a Win10 machine most of the time because it has a larger screen and I still run “real” applications, i.e. Word/Excel. In my opinion a Chromebook might be the best device for non-technical (Web based) users because it has a “keyboard.” I have several friends who use tablets (Android/Apple) and they are always touching the wrong screen and struggling with “virtual keyboards.”

Rick Edgar
2 months ago

I use a Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.3. Older unit but does everything I want. Just doesn’t have the external ports.