A couple weeks ago my reliable and loyal sidekick gave up the ghost. My MacBook Pro (a 2012 model) saw me through four years of college and helping me manage my websites. It was by far the best computer I had ever owned, and I’ve owned quite a few as a web developer for nearly 20 years.
The MacBook can be fixed but it will be costly. In the meantime, I still need a computer. And it also gave me a good excuse to try out the Chromebook Pro.
The Samsung Chromebook Pro had caught my eye last year when it was released. It looked like something I could find plenty of uses for. While I’ve been a loyal Apple fan when it comes to laptops, my tablets have been from Samsung, as well as my smartphones until a couple of months ago.
I’ve always had good luck with Samsung (and Apple) but there are advantages when it comes to Chromebooks over both Windows and Mac laptops and tablets. They can replace both, depending upon your needs for an affordable price.
What Can a Chromebook Do?
This was my number one concern when I first looked at Chromebooks. I didn’t know if they could perform the functions that I need like photo editing, basic video editing, and have enough power to run smoothly.
I’m happy to report that there are many applications that Chromebooks support, at least newer Chromebooks. With access to Chrome web applications and Google Play there are thousands of apps to choose from. Not all apps from Google Play, which are available for smartphones, translate well to a laptop but I’ve found an app for everything I’ve needed to do so far.
Microsoft Office is available through Chrome or Google Play. I haven’t used the programs enough to know how well they function with heavy usage but Word from Google Play fires up fine for me.
However, Google has web applications that can perform very similarly to the Office suite of programs. Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Sheets can replace those programs for most people. They’ll even save files in formats that Office programs can open and your files are saved online.
The Chrome Web Store has several photo editing apps that function through the Chrome browser so there’s no need to download apps to the computer and that’s the biggest difference between Chromebooks and Windows or Macs.
Coming from a 750 GB hard drive on my MacBook to a 32 GB on my Samsung Chromebook Pro seemed like a major downgrade at first but after 7 years of using the MacBook I still had 70% of hard drive space left so obviously I don’t need a huge hard drive to begin with.
Also, the Samsung Chromebook Pro supports expandable storage with a micro SD card. I can pop a 256 GB card to get plenty of storage for photos other files I want to keep on the computer and not just in the cloud.
And that’s the other big part of a Chromebook – the cloud!
I’ve never been one to store files on external sources. With a 750 GB hard drive I didn’t need to! But I’m beginning to appreciate the advantages to storing files on the cloud.
There are photos of my now 20 year old daughter from a decade ago on a variety of smartphones I’ve used in the past but those photos are likely lost forever because who knows where those phones are.
Storing photos on the cloud means that with my Google account I can always access them regardless of what device I’m using. And Google has unlimited free storage for photos. And I can access those photos on the Chromebook to download to Google Drive for use on the website.
By using Google Drive I have access to all my files (both photos and whatever else) that are stored on Google’s servers.
If you’re head is spinning at this point, it’s probably because I’m explaining it poorly but just know that you can take photos on your smartphone, Android or iPhone, and by using Google Photos which is available for either, you can access them with a Chromebook.
These features are available for Mac and Windows as well but Chromebooks were really made with these features in mind.
In fact, my son’s school requires that students have Chromebooks because they’re very useful for an educational setting. Before his school required iPads but iPads aren’t laptops and they’re expensive.
With a Chromebook you’re always going to be working with updated Google web-based software. Also, Google Docs and Google Slides are great for working collaboratively.
I don’t know if I’ve answered the question of what exactly a Chromebook is or not but I hope I let you know what they’re capable of. So far, I’m very happy with the Chromebook I chose.
The Samsung Chromebook Pro isn’t the cheapest Chromebook out there but it’s one of the best and I’ll have a full review on it shortly.
I would say that for the vast majority of people Chromebooks are all you really need if you’re looking to replace a laptop. Unless you do a lot of heavy video editing or do a lot of gaming on your computer, a Chromebook will probably do what you need it to do.