The first Chromebook was launched by Google in 2013. It was an idea far ahead of its time. Cloud computing was evolving. There was definitely space for such a device in the market. Unfortunately the idea of a Chromebook was never understood by the market till date. Google struggles to sell this device despite every laptop manufacturer onboard. Let us explore what is the idea behind the Chromebook and how does a laptop which runs just a web browser fits in the scheme of things.
The idea of Chromebook
First it was data which was moved to the cloud. When you store data, which is files, photos, videos and documents on your computer or smartphone it is called local storage. But if your data and files are stored on some website on the internet it is called as cloud storage. Same applies for software and apps. Installing software on your computer is a local install. In this case the processing of files and data takes place in your computer. But there is a problem in such an approach.
Take for example Adobe Photoshop. It takes lots of space on your computer, needs heavy duty processor, memory and dedicated graphics. As more and more features are added every year, the hardware demands increase forcing the user to upgrade their computer every second or third year. The more efficient option is uploading your photography files to Adobe website and let the pictures be processed on their servers while you can watch the results on your computer screen through an app.
Welcome to the idea of Chromebook and cloud computing, a laptop which contains only Chrome Web Browser and apps. All files are uploaded to the cloud and stored & processed there.
Check out the official Google Chromebook page.
History of Chrome book
The first model was launched by Acer and Samsung in 2011 followed by Google, HP and Lenovo. Later in 2013, Samsung launched one specifically for Indian market. The problem appeared almost immediately when tech reviewers started comparing a chromebook with a regular laptop. By definition, a chrome book is supposed to run only Chrome Browser. So it will have no storage and processing power will be just enough to run the Chrome OS, Chrome Web Browser and apps. So it need not have the processing power of a regular laptop.
Almost immediately as if on cue, Google launched a high end version called Chromebook Pixel with a touch screen and Intel Core i5 processor. Google paid special attention to the design to awe the reviewers. A few reviewers were still not happy with the concept and continued to find fault with battery life, heat issues, price tag and so on. One reviewer for the magazine, The Verge pointed out the lack of capability of working on Photoshop. Again missing the concept of Chrome book as a thin client completely.
Google Play Store Apps
In 2016, Google announced the availability of Play Store Apps within the Chromebook. Samsung launched the Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro with Play Store preinstalled. This time also it was the reviewer from The Verge who had issues with the Chromebook. The presence of Play Store apps has given a big boost to the productivity of users.
A few notable points
- Chromebook is supposed to work only in online mode. It begins with signing with a Google Account. Some app work in offline mode too.
- All productivity related apps are not installed. Instead access is given to online storage and processing.
- Since there is no local storage, there is no way a virus or malware can infect. Your files and data is all on the cloud. Protection of this data is integrated within the servers.
- You can attach USB devices like mouse, webcam, keyboard, pen drives and so on.
What next for Google
Chromebook is for those who are comfortable with using only online app and believe that cloud is the best option. Google has made lot of effort to ensure true cloud experience. For example when you have a photo on Google Drive, you can directly send it to WhatsApp without downloading it to your local storage.
Chrome book is definitely not for those who are looking for any reason to store your files locally. It is more of a habit that we are used to Windows and hard disk. If you are that person, you are better off with a Windows Laptop. Gamers, videographers, youtubers should not venture anywhere close to a Chromebook. Finally those who need to take large quantities of printout will be in for a disappointment since it does not support USB Printers.