Why you should seriously consider a Chromebook as your next laptop

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Why you should seriously consider a Chromebook as your next laptop

They're small. They're portable. They don't cost very much, and they don't run Windows. Sound familiar?
If you're thinking back to the heady days of the very first netbooks, so are we - but while Chromebooks do sound awfully like netbooks, that doesn't mean they're bound to suffer the same fate.

According to industry analysts NPD, from January to November last year Chromebooks' share of the commercial market rose from a titchy 0.2% to an impressive 9.6%.

Of the six and a bit million laptops shipped to education, business and public sector organisations via distributors in the US NPD says 1.6 million were Chromebooks, and in the run-up to Christmas three of the four best-selling laptops on Amazon were Chromebooks.

The UK figures aren't quite so dramatic, but they're still impressive: Context reports that 45,000 Chromebooks were sold in Western Europe in the first quarter of 2014, with 61.5% of those sales in the UK. That figure represents just less than one-tenth of total consumer notebook sales.

We've been here before, of course. Netbooks caused great excitement too, but by 2013 they were a dead computing category. Can Chromebooks do what netbooks couldn't? The signs suggest they can.

What nobbled netbooks

"Netbooks were no longer alternatives to crap Windows laptops. They *were* crap Windows laptops."
How did netbooks go from 20% of mobile PC sales in 2009 to virtually zero four years later?

The short answer is that people realised that netbooks weren't very good. The early promise - speedy flash storage, long battery life, low prices and Linux - was betrayed as manufacturers ditched Linux for Windows.
The move was for sensible enough reasons, because the mass market knew Windows and didn't know Linux, but it had serious ramifications: netbooks were no longer alternatives to crap Windows laptops. They *were* crap Windows laptops.

Windows was too big for flash storage so netbooks swapped the flash for slower hard disks. They ran ancient or crippled versions of Windows (XP initially and Windows 7 Starter later) that needed faster, more energy draining processors, and in many cases the manufacturers apparently assembled them from whatever old parts they found lying around the factory floor.
Chromebook colours
HP's Chromebook 14 gives you HD and Haswell for just £249
With proper laptops' prices in freefall, netbooks came to represent poorer and poorer value for money - and when the iPad turned up, it and its imitators drove the final nail into the Netbook's coffin.

Chromebooks are different. The lack of Windows is part of it: it means Chromebooks are running a new OS, not an ancient one, and it's a mobile OS, not a desktop one. The hardware's pretty good too, especially now Chromebooks are running energy-sipping Haswell processors, and the mass market has changed.

The rise of tablets and smartphones mean we're used to using non-Windows OSes, and while the average punter might not know what Linux is, they do know about Chrome. Chances are, they're already using it.

8 out of 10 cats like Chrome

Chrome is the world's most used browser. The most recent figures from Shareaholic show a 34.65% market share for Chrome; that's more than Firefox, Internet Explorer 11 and Opera combined.

StatCounter gives Chrome 43.55%, nearly double IE and more than double Firefox. Even NetApplications figures, which count user numbers rather than web pages viewed, gives Chrome the edge over IE11, Firefox and Safari.

That's important because Chrome isn't just a browser. It's a platform. The Chrome Web Store is filling with Chrome apps that do exactly what you'd expect traditional desktop apps to do, whether that's streaming from Spotify or Netflix, working on documents or editing text.

And of course those apps are cross-platform, so if you use them on your PC or Mac you can use them on a Chromebook.
Dell Chromebook
Dell's offering is particularly tempting for school and leisure use
Chromebooks also benefit from the wider shift to cloud computing. In the five years since netbooks first appeared we've embraced the cloud for all kinds of things: the aforementioned media streaming, Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote… we're undergoing a generational shift from using our computers as stand-alone devices to using them primarily as windows onto cloud services (that's windows with a small "w").

We're increasingly used to using multiple devices - PCs, smartphones, tablets - to access the same services, and stripped-down cloud-friendly laptops make a lot of sense in that environment, especially now that Wi-Fi is widespread and Chromebooks are no longer lost when you take them offline. Chromebooks are easy to administer, don't suffer from malware to the extent Windows XP did, and haven't been hurt by Microsoft's well-publicised Windows 8 woes.

In many respects netbooks were ahead of their time, and now Chromebooks are delivering what netbooks promised but couldn't yet deliver.

Spoiling Chromebooks' shine

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About Doru Somcutean

Hello, my name is Somcutean Doru and I'm from Romania.

I really like to read reviews and see what's new about technology, on D-BLOG I share with you articles/reviews that I find interesting. I also write some reviews in romanian...

My second blog is D-NEWS , here are some movie reviews , my favorite songs or clips that I like...is more like a personal blog...so please don't get in because you'll get really bored.

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