A laptop that runs Google's Chrome OS and Web browser. Introduced in 2011, Chromebooks were designed as an Internet appliance that provides a more secure system than a Windows or Mac computer because data are stored in the Google cloud (see Google Drive
). In addition, all additional apps installed in the Chromebook come from the Chrome Web Store.
Widely adopted in schools, an Internet connection is mandatory, but some apps may run offline. Chromebooks boot up fast and require minimal user configuration. They also come with Google's office suite (see Google Docs
). See Chrome OS
and Chrome browser
Ever Increasing Storage
Storage was initially small. The first Chromebooks had 16GB or 32GB of SSD storage, while the first Google-branded Chromebook boosted it to 64GB (see Chromebook Pixel
). Many models accept SD Cards for greater capacity, and newer Chromebooks increasingly offer storage that rivals Windows and Mac laptops. See SD Card
Finally Network Friendly
Early Chromebooks did not see other computers in the local network they were connected to. Eventually, file sharing apps became available that recognized file shares on local computers.
Starting in 2016, some of the latest Chromebooks were updated to run Android apps via emulation, opening the platform to thousands of additional applications from the Google Play store.
Stable, Beta and Developer Channels
By switching the OS to the Beta channel, users can review apps that are still in test mode. At a higher risk, brand new features of the OS itself can be tried out by switching to the Developer channel.
The Chrome "Box"
In 2012, Google introduced the Chromebox desktop model, offering the same functionality as the Chromebook in a mini PC footprint. The Chromebox includes a faster CPU and ports for a monitor, mouse and keyboard. See mini PC
and Windows 10 S
A Chromebook Keyboard
Some, but not all, Chromebooks have dedicated Web browsing keys, such as the Back, Forward and Reload buttons on the top row of this Acer keyboard. Caps Lock was replaced with a Search key.
Just Like Any Computer
Chromebooks look like any other laptop computer. You can only tell the difference when you use it.