Is a ChromeBook a Real Alternative To A Low-end Mac?

Low End Mac’s Simon Royal notes that you can now get an Acer ChromeBook laptop for $199, which seems ridiculously cheap. So what exactly do you get for your money?

There are two new models of ChromeBook:

• The Acer C7 has an 1.1 GHz dual-core Intel Celeron processor, 11.6″ display, 2 GB RAM, WiFi and ethernet, USB 2.0, HD camera, HDMI/VGA ports, memory card slot, a 320 GB hard drive and 100 GB online storage via Google; boots in under 20 seconds with a 4 hour battery life for $199.

The Samsung ChromeBook has an ARM-based 1.75 GHz Exynox processor, 11.6″ display, 2 GB RAM, WiFi, USB 2.0, VGA camera, HDMI ports, Bluetooth 3.0, and comes with a 16 GB flash storage and 100 GB online storage via Google; boots in under 10 seconds with a 6.5 hour battery life, for $229.

Royal also notes that the Samsung has a sleek look, similar to the MacBook Air, and for cash-strapped users needing to replace an aging G4 PowerBook – or even early Intel MacBook, the fact we use older Macs in the first place is largely due to financial restrictions, and while $1,199 for a new MacBook Pro is too steep a price obstacle, $200 for a ChromeBook may be doable.

ChromeBook runs the Google Chrome OS, a lightweight custom Linux distro mainly based around the Chrome browser. Everything is done online; the ChromeBook itself is merely a gateway to your Google account and documents (note that If you have a Gmail or Google+ account, you’re good to go).

The Chrome operating system boots in 10 seconds from cold and it wakes from sleep instantly, and, being Linux-based and a new OS, there are no security issues to worry about in terms on viruses – so no additional protection software to install or maintain.

However, Royal says he would rather use a PowerBook G4 than a Windows machine – or even possibly a ChromeBook, and that he just can’t get on with another OS. OS X just feels like home for him. However, he notes that this could change in the future, and that with Microsoft and Apple pushing towards Cloud computing and dumbing down Windows and OS X, a Cloud computer like a ChromeBook is just an early preview of what will eventually be the norm, and the new ridiculously low price makes it something to be not instantly dismissed.

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