What is a Chromebook? Chromebooks are laptops that run Chrome OS, a new type of operating system that Google made. It is a simple computer that everyone can use without worrying about software updates or antivirus software.
They work better when connected to the internet and has plenty of features that work even when you are offline, to keep you productive or entertained.
If you use Google Chrome on your Mac or PC, you already know how to use a Chromebook because the most important part of a Chromebook is the Chrome browser. There are a few things that make Chromebooks different from other computers. Here is a guide to get you started with Chromebooks.
Here is my favorite video when it comes to explaining what Chrome OS is:
- 1 The Story of Chromebooks
- 2 Chromeboxes and Chromebases
- 3 Chromebook Pixel
- 4 Getting Started With Your Chromebook
- 5 Chromebook Resources For Newbies
- 6 Chromebook Tips and Tricks
- 7 Tips For Advanced Chromebook Users
- 8 Useful Links for Chromebook Users
- 9 Chromebook Communities
- 10 Buy Chromebook
- 11 Best Chromebook
- 12 Skype on Chromebook
- 13 Speed Up Chromebook
- 14 Chromebook Vs Ordinary Laptops
The Story of Chromebooks
Google announced Chrome OS on July 7, 2009. In December 2010, Google made the first Chromebook ever, the Cr48. Google distributed Cr48s to Chrome OS enthusiasts and developers to test drive the Chrome OS operating system.
First commercial Chromebooks went on sale in May 2011. Here is a video that went out with them explaining what Chromebooks are:
Chromeboxes and Chromebases
Chromeboxes and Chromebases also run Chrome OS.
Chromebase is an all-in-one PC running Chrome OS. Similar to Windows or Mac all-in-one computers, there is no additional CPU tower for this computer. Everything is packed behind the monitor. Connect a keyboard and mouse, and you are good to go.
Chromeboxes are desktop computers, sold with or without mouse and keyboard combo. These are cheap compared to Chromebases and most of the Chromebooks. For schools and businesses with lot of old computers around, Chromeboxes are an attractive concept. Buy Chromeboxes, use the same old monitors, keyboards and mice to switch completely to Chrome OS!
Pixel is similar to Nexus program on Android. Google released the first Chromebook Pixel in 2013. This ultimate Chromebook was made to show other manufactures what the Chrome OS platform can do and push the boundaries of Chromebook hardware.
Here is the specs of this super Chromebook (First generation):
- 12.85″ display with a 3:2 aspect ratio
- 2560 x 1700 at 239 PPI
- 400 nit screen brightness
- Gorilla® Glass multi-touch screen
- Backlit Chrome keyboard
- Machined from anodized aluminum
- Intel® Core™ i5 processor (Dual Core 1.8GHz)
- 4GB DDR3 RAM
- Up to 5 hours of active use (59 Wh battery)
The Chromebook Pixel 2013 came with 1 TB of free Google Drive storage for two years. Google updated the pixel in 2015 with a more powerful device with a much better battery. Here is the specs sheet:
- Dimensions: 11.7” x 8.8” x 0.6” / 297.7mm x 224.55mm x 15.3mm
- Weight: 3.3 lbs/ 1.5 Kg
- Screen: 12.85″ display with a web-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio 2560 x 1700, at 239 PPI 400 nit screen 178° extra-wide viewing angle
- Processor: Intel® Core™ i5 Processor, 2.2GHz or Intel® Core™ i7 processor, 2.4GHz
- Inputs: Multi-touch screen, Backlit Chrome keyboard, Fully clickable, etched-glass trackpad
- Battery: Up to 12 hours of battery life
- Ports & Connectors: 2 USB Type-C (up to 5 Gbps data, 4K display out with optional HDMI or DisplayPort adapter, 60W charging) 2 USB 3.0 ports SD Card
- Memory: 8GB or 16GB
- Storage: 32GB or 64GB of Flash Storage
- Wireless: 802.11ac Wireless with support for A/B/G/N/AC, 2.4 and 5ghz, 2×2 spatial streams
- Bluetooth 4.0 BR/EDR/LE Smart Ready controller
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 (Integrated)
- Video: Supports 4K video output over DisplayPort™ or HDMI with optional Type-C video adapter cable
- Charger: Type-C USB Charger, new industry standard
Getting Started With Your Chromebook
Getting started with a new Chromebook is very easy. The laptop starts when you open the lid. Login using your Google account, and (if you use Chromesync) all your bookmarks, saved passwords, extensions and everything that you chose to sync, starts downloading to your Chromebook, making you feel at home.
Keyboard is something that you will need some getting-used-to. Here is the first thing for you to do. Press CTRL + ALT + ? and you will see all the available keyboard shortcuts.
Some more useful keyboard shortcuts:
- Use ALT + SEARCH to enable caps lock
- ALT + Backspace: Delete the next letter (forward delete)
- CTRL + Backspace: Delete the previous word
- ALT + Up Arrow key: Home
- ALT + Down Arrow key: End
Chromebook Resources For Newbies
Did you just pick your first Chromebook? Or , are you planning to get one soon? This section is for you!
- Getting Started with your Chromebook: This guide will help you kick-start your Chromebook experience and fill you in on the basics.
- What to do When Your Chromebook is Offline: Explains how to prepare to stay productive with your Chromebook even when you are offline.
- Chromebook User Guide: A grand collection of Chromebook how-to articles I have written so far.
- Chromebook Keyboard Shortcuts: A well organized Chromebook keyboard shortcuts collection.
- Questions New Chromebook Users Ask ( Yes, with answers)
Chromebook Tips and Tricks
- Top 100 Tips and Tricks for Google Chrome: I am sure you will learn at least 10 new things about Chrome here.
- 100 Chromebook Tips: And a 10 more about Chromebooks here.
Tips For Advanced Chromebook Users
Useful Links for Chromebook Users
- View current versions of Chrome OS (stable, beta and dev) here.
- A cleaner version is available here.
- Official Support Forum
- Contact a Ninja
- Release Announcement Blog
- Google Plus community for Chromebook users
- Chrome OS on Reddit
- Chromebook EDU on G+ for discussion on Chromebook in education.
In the US, Chromebooks are available from multiple sources including Amazon, Best Buy, New Egg and many more retailers. If you are in India, Flipkart sells Chromebooks along with Croma. Canada has different online and physical retailers offering Chromebooks.
what is the best Chromebook to buy? Is it going to be the Pixel, a Samsung Chromebook, or an Acer Chromebook? Or may be a Toshiba, Asus or Dell? Interesting question.
A lot of Chromebooks share similar specs. For example, most of them have either 16GB SSD or 32GB SSD as local storage. Most of them have the same screen resolution, processor and RAM.
You should buy a Chromebook that best suits your requirements. For students, there are rugged Chromebooks available. There are Chromebooks that have good screen resolution and even touch screen. There are Chromebooks that can work in a tablet mode too.
Most of the entry models have 2GB RAM. It is however recommended to use 4GB or more of RAM for better performance.
The best Chromebook is the one that suits your requirements!
Skype on Chromebook
To use Skype from your Chromebook, visit web.skype.com. Login to your account and you should be able to start using Skype right away.
Only text chat is available at the moment. Microsoft is still working on adding audio and video chat support to Skype on Chrome OS.
Speed Up Chromebook
The easiest way to increase speed and reduce battery usage when you need a quick browsing session, is to use the guest mode. It loads Chrome without any extensions or apps. It is faster and takes less battery. To speed up the regular mode on your Chromebook, here are some suggestions:
- Close tabs that you are not using currently
- Go to chrome://extensions and disable or uninstall extensions and apps that you no longer use
- Perform a powerwash.
Chromebook Vs Ordinary Laptops
Chromebooks cannot do a lot of things that your usual Windows laptops of Macbooks can do. They don’t have to. Chromebooks were not made to replace everything, at least not in the near future.
There are still plenty of things that Chromebooks do. The difference is, Chromebooks do those things a lot better than normal laptops. It takes you online under 7 seconds. It gives you security without any worries. Chromebooks gets better as they age with automatic software updates (ever felt your computer slowing down after you use it for couple of months and install some software?)