Chromebooks debate post-mortem: A bad deal

I can appreciate my esteemed debate opponent's arguments in favor of Chromebooks, but the debate reinforces my belief that these devices aren't the best to meet the needs of users.
Written by Larry Seltzer, Contributor on

The Great Chromebook Debate is over. As of this morning, I win 39% to 61%.

I believe strongly that debates such as these are not click-bait. They force the readers and participants to examine their impressions and confront alternatives. I may disagree with Matt's views on Chromebooks but I understand his motivations.

To summarize, my position is that Chromebooks are a bad buy because they do nothing you can't do with a real Windows notebook. In fact, they do much less. This is the angle taken in a new "Scroogled" ad from Microsoft using the guys from the History Channel show Pawn Stars.

The ad throws in the Scroogled point that Google tracks you all the time so they can sell ads. Big deal I say, but if that bothers you then it's another reason to avoid a Chromebook because it's also a commitment to the Google Ecosystem.

The main claim Matt made that resonates with me at all is the desire for something simple that just works and does the things he really needs. I hear a lot of this from Chromebook advocates. I don't dismiss them.

The main counter-argument is that a Windows 8.1 device as an alternative, possibly using Chrome, possibly even booting straight into Chrome, works very well. Nearly all of bad impressions people have of Windows being buggy and unreliable are rooted in days of yore, when Windows Vista and its ancestors ruled the world. The other counter-argument is that you are more likely than you may think to need the things that Chromebooks don't do.

The "browser as your entire user interface" idea is older than most people appreciate. I recall testing devices which attempted it over 15 years ago when I ran a test lab. It works a lot better now than it did then, but it still has all the same limitations.

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