Difference Between a Chromebook and a Laptop

Many people are in the market for a new laptop or portable device. Often, they find themselves wondering what the best choice is for them. If you are looking in to a new daily workhorse and you haven’t decided what you want just yet, we are here and happy to help! If you’re here looking for the difference between a Chromebook and a laptop… you have come to the right place.

LaptopLaptop BrandRatingPrice
ASUS Chromebook Flip C434
Acer Spin 11 (ALY03781U10N)
Dell Inspiron Chromebook
Lenovo Chromebook C330

You might have been doing some research into some machines that are within your budget. And if you have been looking into possible devices, you might have come across some that were called “Chromebooks”. If you’ve never heard of them before, that’s probably because Chromebooks are relatively new to the market. But don’t worry, because we can take an in-depth look at these devices. This is so you can more easily make an informed decision. We’re here to help you decide on whether or not it’s the right device for you.

So, what is the difference between a Chromebook and a laptop? Let’s dive into the world of Chromebooks to find out!

What is a Chromebook? What is The Difference Between a Chromebook and a Laptop?

difference between a Chromebook and a laptop

If you’ve heard of Google Chrome and thought “I wonder if there’s any relation?”, then the answer is a resounding yes. Chromebooks are essentially laptops, tablets, or 2–in-1 devices that run on Chrome OS. So in essence, they are any portable device that run on this operating system. That’s the main difference between a Chromebook and a laptop – the operating system. They first appeared on the scene in 2011. Acer and Samsung being the first two big brands to release them. Eventually other “Chrome” devices such as the Chromebox (desktop) and the Chromebase (all-in-one device) came to be. But, neither were ever as popular as the Chromebook we all know today.

These Chrome OS devices vary in size and specifications, giving you a lot of options to choose from. There are devices that are smaller and have decent specifications for a very affordable price. And there are those that are on the higher end, with larger screens and additional features such as stylus pens and so on.

Surprisingly, Chromebooks have become quite popular despite – or even perhaps because of – their limitations. In March 2018, it was noted that almost 60% of the laptops and computers that school systems purchased in the USA were Chromebooks.

So now that we’ve taken a look at what Chromebooks are and how they came to be, let’s take a closer look at them so we can see what makes them tick.

What is Chrome OS?

Chrome OS is basically the operating system that runs in all Chrome devices. It is a Google-designed operating system that is based on Linux. It was principally derived from Chromium OS (which was free software) back in the day. Chrome OS is only available when you purchase a device with it pre-installed, because Google only allows manufacturing partners to have it. There are some unofficial methods that you can use to install it on other equipment, but it is difficult and not necessarily worth it.

Chrome OS uses Google Chrome (you see why it is familiar?) as its main UI or user interface, which is why this system supports web applications primarily. Because of that, it uses mainly Chrome Apps. You can’t install software onto Chrome OS, which really does limit your flexibility in terms of what you can do with your device. Chromebooks do however have apps like Google Docs and Google Sheets (and so on) to allow you to do any work you may need to do. The operating system also has a file manager included, along with a media player (integrated).

There are now fewer limitations to Chrome OS as well, because in 2016 Google made it so it was possible to have Google Play Store on supported Chrome OS devices. This allows you to install most Android apps onto Chrome OS devices. Just in 2018, Google also announced that this operating system would be receiving support for Linux apps (desktop).

What is a Chromebook good for?

We’ve taken a look at what Chromebooks are and how they run, so now we can take a look at why you may or may not want to purchase one. There are many things that these devices are good for, and many for which they are not. For now let’s look at all the benefits of buying a Chromebook so you can more easily make a decision. So why should you consider a Chromebook?

  • Chromebooks tend to be quite affordable. That’s another difference between a Chromebook and a laptop. Need we say more? These devices were made to be very affordable to students and young professionals, and even those who only need simple devices such as the elderly. Of course there are some models that are more expensive – the premium Chromebooks such as the Pixelbook and the Samsung Chromebook Pro. You can basically choose a model that suits you in every way – from budget to specifications.
  • Chromebooks come in different sizes. There are some that are essentially 11 inch laptops, while others go up in size all the way to 14 inches.
  • With these devices, you don’t need to wait much. Boot up and rebooting are usually lightning fast due to the lack of bloatware (unnecessary software) on the device, as well as the fact that these machines usually run on flash memory like solid state drives.
  • If you choose the right type or model, you can have access to Google Play Store, which means any app you can run on your phone or tablet can also be run on these devices. This broadens your options when it comes to apps, which may compensate for the fact that you cannot install a lot of other software on these devices.
  • Battery life for Chromebook devices is usually on the really good end of the spectrum! If you’re looking for portability and less “power outlet anxiety”, these devices will make a fantastic choice. Choose a Chromebook that offers you at least 5 – 9 hours. Many of the devices out today offer plenty of battery life, perfect for an entire day’s sporadic workload.
  • Some Chromebooks are essentially spill-resistant. If you’ve ever had the nightmare of spilling a beverage on your keyboard, you’ll be glad that many of the Chromebook models out today are spill-resistant. Many are also drop-resistant, meaning they will endure the occasional fall. If you are clumsy, this might be the solution to your problems – just make sure that you buy a spill-resistant and drop-resistant device!
  • Developers are working really hard to make Chrome OS apps that make it possible to do a lot of the things a normal laptop can. For example, Pixlr is a photo editor that looks like Photoshop where you can do some photo edits (you just won’t be able to work off of .psd files).

What is a Chromebook not a good choice for?

While these Chrome OS devices have great versatility and benefits, there are some reasons why they may not suit every user. Heavier users, for example, will not like the fact that there is a very limited amount of options available when it comes to software you can install and use with these devices. But there are other reasons why Chrome OS may not be for you. Let’s take a look at some of them.

  • Chromebooks usually require a working internet connection. Chrome OS often relies on ‘web apps’ or the use of websites to be able to function and deliver content to their users. Because of this, you most likely want to be around a working internet connection more often than not, otherwise your device will be quite limited in offline mode. Newer devices and android-based Chrome OS devices are trying to fix this issue by making more apps available offline. But unless you have the right model, be ready to be tethered to places with Wi-Fi connections, or be ready to run your phone’s data hotspot so you can use your device as it should be used.
  • If you’re a huge fan of Microsoft Office and you want to keep using it on your new Chrome device, you may be disappointed because not all of them have it available yet. Until they come out, you’ll be using Microsoft Office Online, the cloud-based option that Microsoft offers.
  • Storage space is limited! Most Chromebook devices do not have a lot of storage space. As a matter of fact, some of them offer less than 100 gigabytes of physical storage, electing instead to offer users Cloud storage since that was the entire point of Chromebooks to begin with. So if you want to be able to access all your files without having to navigate through the cloud, you may want to consider a different device (otherwise you will also want to have external storage solutions to make your life easier).
  • Limited GPU power on these devices pretty much make you unable to play any AAA game titles, so if you’re a gamer, Chromebooks will certainly disappoint. However, with Google Stadia (Google’s cloud game streaming platform) now becoming a thing, perhaps later on it will be possible to game on these devices – you never know!

What are some examples of Chromebooks?

We’ve discussed the pros and cons of Chromebooks, as well as the main difference between a Chromebook and a laptop. So now it’s time to take a look at a few of them to give you some good examples of the options available today! We’ll give you a quick look at the options available, but since you probably want 11 inch models, we will be greatly featuring 11 inch Chromebook laptops instead!

ASUS Chromebook Flip C434

This unit is the only one we will be featuring today that is bigger than 11 inches in size. We’re featuring it simply because the ASUS Flip C434 is considered by some to be the best Chromebook available in 2019. This device features a really long battery life, a very beautifully sleek and premium exterior design, really thin bezels on the screen, and a 14-inch touch-screen. It’s a 2-in-1 device, basically a convertible tablet-laptop combination, with a vivid HD (1080p) display. The chassis is made of aluminum, lending it an even more premium feel. The device looks and feels like a really sleek high-end laptop – at the price of a starter or mid-range laptop.

This model of hybrid laptop features an Intel Core m3 CPU (m3-8100Y to be exact). It has 4 gigs of RAM to enable you to more easily multitask. It comes with 64 gigabytes of eMMC solid state storage, which is pretty much the standard for Chrome OS devices it seems. There are higher versions of the Flip featuring more RAM, as well as i5 and i7 processors.


Acer Spin 11 (ALY03781U10N)

The Acer Spin 11 is a decent entry into this list of available 11 inch Chromebook laptops. We don’t need to tell you what operating system it runs on. It uses an Intel Celeron processor rated at 1.10 GH – the dual-core N3350. For an 11.6” laptop, it has 4 gigs of DDR4 memory: a rarity in small devices of this size. This means multi-tasking will be easier with this laptop, making the Acer Spin 11 a great daily workhorse. The Spin is a convertible device with a 360 degree hinge, meaning you can use the device in laptop mode, tablet mode, tent mode, or stand mode.

Although the Spin 11 does not have a memory card reader, it does have 32 GB of flash memory built-in. If you want the option to use extra external storage, the Spin has 4 USB slots (2 3.0, 2 Type-C) for you to plug them into. The IPS (in-plane switching) HD multi-touch screen gives you multiple viewing angles, making it easy for you to see what you are doing no matter what angle your screen is at. If you want to use this as an entertainment and streaming device, you can – it has an audio/microphone jack and speakers (although you may want to use separate speakers for better quality).

This device is about mid-range in terms of Chromebook prices. It does offer great value for money, however, especially if you consider the battery life for it as well (8-10 hours). From a portability standpoint, this device is great, considering it weighs only 3.09 lbs. Acer also tried to make sure that this product is impact-resistant and pill-resistant, great for children or clumsier users.

>> BUY YOUR ACER SPIN 11 (ALY03781U10N) NOW <<

Dell Inspiron Chromebook

Not to be left out of the Chromebook game, Dell has its own version of an 11 inch Chromebook laptop here. It uses a similar processor to the Acer Spin but it is more powerful, sitting at 1.6 GHz with up to 2.48 Ghz boost. The processor itself is an Intel Celeron, the N3060 dual-core model. It has an HD screen for your viewing pleasure, and plenty of ports for you to plug your peripherals into.

This model is not a convertible, although there is an available model slightly more expensive that is a 2-in-1 device. If you’re a fan of ultra-portability, however, you’ll revel in the fact that the Dell Inspiron 11 Chromebook is really light, sitting at about 2.43 pounds.

Multi-tasking is also great on this device because it comes with 4gb of DD3 RAM, allowing you to have multiple things open at the same time. If you want a lighter daily workhorse at a much more affordable price, this Chromebook is your choice!

The only downside to this model however is the fact that it does only come with 16GB of storage. But with plenty of ports, and the availability of cloud storage, we’re sure you can find ways to increase your storage somehow.


Lenovo C330 Chromebook

Another brand that you can trust when it comes to Chromebooks and portable devices is Lenovo. Lenovo has this particular unit, the C330 Chromebook, which is a 2-in-1 convertible hybrid laptop. It’s slightly pricier than the Dell but more affordable than the Acer, but this unit has its own benefits. Let’s take a quick look at this really sleek and stylish device to see what makes it run.

The C330 has a full-HD IPS screen, making bad viewing angles a thing of the past. Instead of an Intel processor it uses a Mediatek, the MT8173C Processor as a matter of fact. This convertible device has a 360 degree hinge that lets you set it up in 4 positions, and on top of this it remains ultra-light and thin at less than 1 inch total thickness and only 2.6 pounds of weight.

Like most of the other devices on this list, the C330 is great at multitasking since it does have its 4 gigs of RAM. Out of the 3 other 11 inch Chromebook laptops on this list, the Lenovo has the most storage options, with 2 models you can buy at 32gb and 64gb of eMMC storage respectively. Naturally, this device also comes with multiple connectivity ports (USB 3.0 and Type-C).

One more thing that makes this device stand out from all the others on this list is the fact that it can access Google Play Store. If you want to be able to run apps that are found on the Google Play Store, this is the choice for you!


Should I Buy a Chromebook?

Now that we’ve discussed almost everything there is to know about Chromebooks, and now that we have even taken a look at some Chromebooks available today, the next question you are probably asking is: should I buy a Chromebook? Is a Chromebook worth it? Should I get an 11 inch Chromebook?

The difference between a Chromebook and a laptop is not really that much… It all depends on what you need to use it for. Naturally, you are the only one who can really answer these questions, since you are the only person who knows your particular needs. We have, however, done our best to provide you with as much in-depth information as possible. We hope this will help you along with your decision. If a Chromebook is the best option for you, then we can also help you as you try to find right device for you.

So let’s discuss the things you should look at and consider when shopping for an 11 inch Chromebook laptop.

What Should I Consider When Buying a Chromebook?

When buying a Chromebook, there are quite a few factors for you to consider. Naturally, the price must fall well within your budget range. But aside from the price, what other things do you need to think about?

Well, let’s talk about them here:

  • Size. One of the main things you should be considering when it comes to purchasing a device is its size. Mainly you need to figure out how often you’ll be lugging it around. Another thing is how often you’ll be staring at the screen. Smaller laptops and tablets (11 inches or so) usually win in the portability game. These devices tend to be quite light, making it much easier to carry them around. So if you don’t mind sacrificing just a bit of screen real estate, 11 inch devices are king. You can’t take portability for granted, after all.
  • RAM. Processors are not the only thing you need to look at when you are purchasing your daily work device. RAM or memory is actually also quite important, especially since almost everyone multitasks these days. If you get the right device, multitasking becomes much easier. And, you won’t have to worry about lagging when you’re trying to do different things. Note that for RAM, the higher number means it is better (4 is better than 2, and so on).
  • Battery life. Although most Chromebooks these days truly do have excellent battery lives, you still want to make sure you consider the stated battery life of the devices you are looking to buy. Why settle for a device that only has 5 hours of battery life if you can get one with 9? This increases your ability to be away from power sockets, making the higher battery-life devices truly excellent travel companions.
  • Android-based? One thing for you to consider is whether or not you want to get a Chromebook that has access to the Google Play Store. Most of the time, it’s probably better to get the Android-based option just to increase your flexibility.
  • Durability. With our current mobile lifestyles, our portable devices should be able to keep up. Durability is something to be heavily considered – it’s great to see products that are spill-proof and drop-resistant out on the market today.

We hope that our really in-depth view on these devices helps you to make an informed decision! Regardless of your decision of whether or not you want to buy an 11 inch Chromebook laptop, that is. Hopefully, everything we’ve put together helps you know better the difference between a Chromebook and a laptop!