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%)

Closing Statements

Chromebooks are a no-brainer

Matthew Miller

Thanks to Larry for the lively debate and to Jason for hosting the event. If I put on my enterprise hat, then I agree with much of what Larry stated and still carry my Surface Pro as a way to work on the go without any real compromise.

That said, I find Chromebook usage to be refreshing and energizing. I don't worry about viruses or malware, never think about updates, and am able to just open up the display and enjoy the pure Chrome experience. I know it may sound strange, but when I use a Chromebook my thoughts seem to flow more freely and it seems easier to write.

The Chromebook special offers personally appeal to me and make purchasing a Chromebook almost a no-brainer for those who would have purchased these services without a Chromebook.

I fly at least once a month and purchase GoGo WiFi so getting 12 passes with a Chromebook is awesome. I also prefer Google Drive for my cloud storage solution and Chromebooks come with at least 100GB of storage for a couple of years (Pixel owners get 1TB for 3 years). I am a Google Play All Access Music subscriber and with a Chromebook you get two free months. That's a total of about $290 in services when you pay $199 to $350 for a Chromebook.

In short, hassle-free web experiences and value-added services make them a no-brainer.

All the value is in novelty

Larry Seltzer

Like a lot of new technologies, Chromebooks have novelty value. It's kind of cool that a browser could be the whole device. That doesn't make it a good buy.

The kindest thing I can say about Chromebooks is that it may be too soon to tell on them. Perhaps Google will convince enough developers to write packaged apps, especially ones that work offline, that it will be a more useful system. Perhaps some way will develop to support hardware and software that is currently unavailable. Perhaps.

This debate has forced me to think a lot about the value proposition for Chromebooks, and I feel more strongly than ever that they're a bad deal. If you compare Chromebooks to what you can get in a *real* computer today at today's prices, there's just no reason to settle for less.

Some limitations but plenty of positives

Jason Hiner

The Chromebook issue boils down to capability versus simplicity. If you still rely on any installed apps--that don't have online equivalents--to get your work done then you're going to need a Windows laptop. Or, in some cases, you can get away with a Mac. End of story. However, if you're already spending 99% of your time in a web browser, then using a Chromebook can save you some headaches. It doesn't have all the virus and malware worries of a Windows machine. It isn't constantly updating apps. And, it doesn't slow down over time because of bit rot. It also automatically transitions between Wi-Fi and LTE Mobile Broadband far better than Mac or Windows, which still use clunky connection managers. 

For now, Chromebooks are doing better job of getting the technology out of the way than either Windows or Mac. In that way, they are more like tablets. But, along the same lines, Chromebooks have limitations that make them a show-stopper for many professionals. Nevertheless, as Matt noted about his commuting time, Chromebooks can still serve as a viable second PC for many business folks. That makes the verdict for this one pretty easy: There are plenty of good reasons to buy a Chromebook.


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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