January tends to be a month of pondering - it’s symbolic of new beginnings. It’s when we look at how our businesses did the previous year, and how we can improve them going forward.
These sentiments tend to trickle into the tech side of things. For many entrepreneurs, January seems like the right time to ‘tech out’ – it’s when you visit tech or app stores to pick up the latest in productivity tech.
Traditionally, productivity tech was synonymous with laptops running either windows or Mac operating systems, but in the recent past, we’ve been seeing other types of systems come up.
Portability, flexibility of use and extended battery life are a huge motivation for those choosing this type of productivity tool, but laptop prices can be hard to stomach. A few years back, we tried replacing these devices with tablets running similar software to what was on our phones. The price seemed right, but judging from the waning sales of tablets, that trend didn’t quite catch on.
Google is making a crack at solving this problem once more by giving us the Chromebook. If international trends are anything to go by (Chromebook US shipments overtook Apple Macbook shipments in 2016), there may be something here to pay attention to.
Chromebooks have been around with us for a few years now, but recent changes made by Google have given them quite the upgrade.
Late last year, Google gave Chromebook users access to the Android Play Store, which now means you can run the same apps you run on your phone on a laptop seamlessly. This has improved the usability of these machines.
Chromebooks are essentially modest little laptops that run a proprietary operating system derived from Google’s Internet browser: Chrome. You could think of it as a computer running a browser.
Due to its browser origin, Chrome OS, as it’s called, is not resource intensive, so it runs on very low spec hardware. This has the advantage of making the average Chromebook cheaper than the average laptop. The machines also have phenomenal battery life (I’m talking going a whole day without charging).
To add on to the advantages, Chrome OS features Google’s rendition of your regular productivity suite for creating, editing and saving Word documents, Excel sheets and PowerPoint presentations – Google Docs. It’s available for free and works well with Google’s free cloud ecosystem.
And since you have access to free cloud storage, Chromebooks don’t need too much storage and can thus be built without a traditional hard disk, relying only on flash memory. This has the effect of making them pretty snappy. They’re also light, portable and a good number run cool, which means there’s no need for noisy fans.
However, if you’re a heavy graphics or video processor user, then these might not be the machines for you. But for the rest of us who mainly use the computer to do word processing, Internet browsing, social media activity and consume music and video content, then the Chromebook might be worth a close look.