female using Chromebook on desk

Chromebook Laptops Better Than Ever—Cheaper, Too!

It’s no secret that Chromebooks are taking over the computer market. And now they’re better than ever—improved functionality and an excellent user experience!

female using Chromebook on desk

The need for a traditional Windows or macOS laptop computer is no longer dire. Phones and tablets are often more than sufficient for casual users. And when should a laptop computing device becomes necessary, a Chromebook may fill the bill—at a fraction of the cost of macOS or Windows laptop.

This post will answer all your questions—what a Chromebook is exactly, how it differs from a traditional PC, and which ones you should consider.

What is a Chromebook?

You may be used to choosing between Apple’s macOS and Windows when shopping for a new computer. Since 2011, Chromebooks have offered a third option. These computers don’t run Windows or macOS operating systems. Instead, they run on Linux-based Chrome OS.

Chromebooks have become so popular manufacturers are competing like crazy to expand functionality while at the same time lowering the price. You know who wins that game, right? Consumers—college students for sure, and just in time for Christmas, too! Chromebooks are ideal for the budget-conscious, especially if you’re looking for a new computer that you can take on the go.

12 Reasons You Might Like a Chromebook

The main thing to remember when comparing a laptop to a Chromebook is that it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. The main difference, besides price, is the operating system. Chromebooks are vastly different from a laptop, and some of those differences make them an excellent choice for a notebook computer. Some of the reasons a Chromebook might be for you include:

  1. The price. If you have a tight budget, you can pick up a new Chromebook for around $300—just don’t blink. Electronics prices, like everything else, are soaring.
  2. Quick boot up. Chromebook powers up in less than 10 seconds.
  3. It has no programs installed—no bloatware or freeware, relying on web-based programs and websites. All of your docs are stored in the cloud.
  4. Chromebook is great for surfing the Internet, handling email, and enjoying entertainment and music. As long as you have an Internet connection, you’re in like Flynn.
  5. Chrome OS is nearly impervious to online attacks, and has built-in security and the ability to heal itself.
  6. You have access to free apps through the Google marketplace.
  7. Some Chromebooks can run Android apps.
  8. It has long-lasting battery life.
  9. Chromebooks are lightweight and easy to take along on the go—to class, a meeting, or a trip.
  10. Chromebooks have an easy-to-use interface, which is good even for school children.
  11. Chromebooks have automatic OS updates, so you don’t need to do anything.
  12. Makes a great backup. A Chromebook makes an excellent and affordable secondary device if you already have a PC or laptop.

How Chromebook is different from a traditional laptop computer

  1. When setting up a Chromebook, you must log in using your Google account and password. You can head right to Google Docs, Google’s browser-based word processor. You can create, edit, and share documents online and access them from any computer or device with an Internet connection. This makes the Chromebook an ideal choice for college students because wifi is abundantly available all over campus including in dorms.
  2. Some Chromebook keyboards have unique keys like “Search” and “Launcher.” Where a normal Windows or Command key would be on another computer, you will see a button that opens up Google Assistant.
  3. Chromebooks aren’t known for their speed or robustness. If you’re looking for a high-quality computer replacement or a laptop for work, a Chromebook might not be right. They’re not ideal for games or anything that needs lots of power. So, you should look for an Apple Macbook or a more expensive Windows computer if you want to use your laptop for gaming.
  4. If you’re used to Windows or macOS, Google’s minimalist Chrome operating system may not have all the necessary functionality. But then again, perhaps it does. With some Chromebooks dipping below $300, you stand to save a bundle of cash by foregoing the features you don’t use anyway.

Chromebook overview

A Chromebook laptop is ideal for someone who wants to surf the Internet, communicate by email, stream movies and videos, manage photos, and collect tons of music. While each of the computers I’m about to recommend has internal storage plus ports to add external hard drives, flash drives, and even memory cards, generally, a Chromebook is designed to be used while connected to the Internet.

There are countless Google apps (software) for Chromebooks, and they’re all free. Just remember, a Chromebook is not a Microsoft Windows computer. Chromebooks vs. Windows Laptops: The Real Story does a great job of listing the differences—and why a in many situations chromebook is so much better (and so much cheaper) in many situations. A Chromebook operates with a secure, fast, and super simple OS. You know, the opposite of Windows.

Finding a decent Chromebook in stock during the back-to-school shopping season can be difficult. If none of our picks are available, we recommend setting up stock alerts using NowInStock.net or browser extensions like Keepa. If you can’t find a new Chromebook anywhere, consider a used one, but double-check the official end-of-support date before buying.

How to select the right Chromebook?

If you go online or walk into a store’s electronics department to purchase a Chromebook for the first time, prepare to be hit with a serious case of FUD—fear, uncertainty, and doubt. That’s because hundreds Chromebooks from dozens of manufacturers have tons of options. But not to worry. I do not expect you to slog through all of this technical stuff to figure out your best inexpensive option. It’s my job to do the hard work so you won’t have to. I suggest you start by looking at these:

EC Best Inexpensive

Both Lenovo Chromebook—Flex 5 (13″) and Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook (13″)—are remarkable. Both are great laptops with faster performance than most Chromebooks under $500.


Also great …

Not the most inexpensive, the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 is faster, smaller, lighter than Lenovo Flex 5, and has longer battery life. How could that matter? If you frequently have dozens of tabs open and run multiple Android apps. It has greatly increased memory, too and these two upgrades could make things infinitely better for you. Of course, you will pay for them as this Chromebook is quite a bit more expensive than the two above. Note: This Chromebook has only USB-C ports. You will need a dongle or dock to accommodate older peripherals i.e, printer etc.


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2 replies
  1. atk says:

    Hi, Mary! Could I use a chrome book to pay bills online?

    Also wanted to say that I visited the Terry Bison Ranch in July when I was in CO/WY. What a fun place!!

    I’ve been reading your EC column for what, 20 years(?), a very long time!! Thanks for all you do!!

    • Mary Hunt says:

      A Chromebook is a vehicle to access the Internet. Online bill pay is a “web-based” operation, meaning that you must go to your banks’ website to access your bank account. Or if paying a utility bill, your utility company has auto bill pay set up on its site. That’s the long answer. The short answer: Yes.

      Wow … we go way back! For readers scratching their heads about Terry Bison Ranch, make sure you are signed up to get our daily EC newsletter email. It alerts you to the new daily post, but we fill it up with all kinds of find things, such as my recent visit to Terry Bison Ranch.


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