Are there good reasons to buy a Chromebook?

Moderated by Jason Hiner | November 25, 2013 -- 07:00 GMT (23:00 PST)

Summary: Matt Miller and Larry Seltzer debate the pros and cons of these Chrome OS-based appliances.

Matthew Miller

Matthew Miller




Larry Seltzer

Larry Seltzer

Best Argument: Yes


Audience Favored: Yes (61%)

The moderator has delivered a final verdict.

Opening Statements

Situations where it makes sense

Matthew Miller: I understand that Larry has some strong feelings about why there is no good reason to buy a Chromebook, but I believe there are indeed some situations where it makes sense to pick up a low cost Chromebook rather than a PC.

I bought my daughter a $249 Chromebook last year for Christmas and she uses it for school research, to check her grades and class assignments, to write papers, and to enjoy media via Hulu and Netflix. She calls it her computer and I have yet to perform any maintenance or troubleshooting in nearly a year.

As a daily 2 hour train commuter, I like to write while passing the time. With a Chromebook I am able to fly on the keyboard and crank out a stream of consciousness without being distracted by notifications, virus warnings, update requests, etc.

The special offers Google includes with a Chromebook purchase make a Chromebook nearly free for me. I enjoy their Google Drive offer and use GoGo in-flight service once or twice a month. These two offerings add up to about $269 so why not pick up a very capable writing machine for the cost you would pay for a couple services?

Chromebook? Why limit yourself so?

Larry Seltzer: As I argued earlier this month, there's nothing a Chromebook can do that a more general-purpose — probably Windows — laptop can't. 

Buy a cheap Windows laptop and install Google Chrome: Instant Chromebook, plus it does a lot more. That's really the bulk of the argument.

Is a Chromebook simpler than a Windows laptop running Chrome, and is simplicity in this regard a virtue? This is only true if there are direct benefits from the simplicity. These perceived benefits must be balanced against clear and obvious advantages of a device that runs all Windows software. Incidentally, I'm not persuaded by these alleged benefits.

Many seem to think that they will save money by buying a Chromebook, and at the very low-end that may be true. Once you start going over $300 or so, the case is far less compelling, and there are Windows laptops available for under $300.

There is quite a bit you can do entirely in the Google ecosystem. If you're willing to limit yourself to these things then a
Chromebook can work for you. But why limit yourself?


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  • Have to say no

    Having owned one, I have to say the OS needs to be more robust and the hardware needs to be better. The Pixel was over kill and the rest are on par with netbooks.
    Reply 19 Votes I'm for No
    • Have to say no

      Microsoft Windows in an incredibly complex, unstable, and vulnerable environment....... there are many reasons to eschew Windows, and I am whole heartedly in favor of anything that will break this unholy monopoly. This is a very good step in the right direction. A large percentage of Americans live more in the browser than anywhere else. We are approaching the point where the browser will be central to productivity by added functionality either from online resources or plug ins. We are moving into an entirely new computing paradigm where the OS will be irrelevant, and functionality will be independent of the OS or of monolithic programs like Microsoft Orifice. These things are dinosaurs of a bygone era....... and I say goodbye and good riddance!!
      Reply 27 Votes I'm Undecided
      • I have to disagree with you about MS Windows being unstable, etc.

        I have used Windows laptops and desktops for years, from back in the DOS days. My hardware has almost always been reliable and stable for years, and with the advent of Windows XP SP2 and 3 the OS has been rock solid also. We have replaced several Apple devices or had them serviced, something I didn't do with HP or Dell or Lenovo hardware. I would not replace my Windows systems with a Chromebook. I will be using tablets more and more in the future. Now using a Samsung and Surface Pro 2.
        Reply 31 Votes I'm Undecided
        • "I would not replace my Windows systems with a Chromebook"

          nobody's asking you to. Googles intention was not for you to replace your Windows/Apple machine. Chromebooks, like tablets, are supplements to your computing setup.
          James Welbes
          Reply 30 Votes I'm Undecided
          • By filling a niche...

            ...that does not exist? If I already have a Windows laptop, what the hell does a Chromebook do that my laptop cannot?
            Reply 15 Votes I'm Undecided
          • If you already have a Windows laptop...

            Then there's likely no reason for you to get another laptop at all. Unless it's old and/or underpowered, keep using it. But, when you need to replace it, that's when you MIGHT consider a Chromebook; Chrome OS is never going to replace my desktop, but my netbook which runs Opensuse or my Macbook which is normally running Ubuntu are different stories.
            Reply 8 Votes I'm Undecided
          • What does Chromebook do that you laptop cannot?

            Boot up in less than 5 seconds, that's what. I've used Windows since 1994. True, the Chromebook does not have the raw power of a laptop, but it has replaced my Windows Laptop, and done everything that I need, and the Chrome OS keeps improving. Don't knock it until you've tried it
            Reply 8 Votes I'm Undecided
          • I used Windows 1994-2008...

            ... and found it terrible bad OS indeed.
            Napoleon XIV
            Reply 3 Votes I'm Undecided
          • "What does Chromebook do that you laptop cannot? "

            Saving money. Make more sure you can install other Linux distributions on it (Win 8....UEFI issue).

            Decent device. Good for Linux Mint, SUSE, Fedora, Debian etc....
            Reply 4 Votes I'm Undecided
          • Most of people use just internet...

            ...Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, watch multimedia, keep their photos in cloud, play internet games.

            That's why cheap, fast ChromeBook could be good alternative for family for instance traveling, holidays. It's better than tablet and even cheaper.
            Napoleon XIV
            Reply 8 Votes I'm Undecided