Chromebook vs. laptop: Buying advice and recommendations

Should I buy a Chromebook or a Windows laptop? Whether you’re seeking out the best computer for your child or just weighing which inexpensive computer would make a great holiday gift, weighing a Chrome OS-powered Chromebook versus a PC can be a tough choice—and we can help you choose the right one. 

Who should buy a Windows PC?

A notebook PC powered by Microsoft Windows offers several advantages: Windows offers the most flexibility to run just about any app, as well as the choice of any browser you choose. You can tweak and configure your PC as you choose.

Windows laptops for the budget buyer, 2019

Our quick-hit recommendations:

That convenience demands more computing horsepower, and often a higher price compared to most Chromebooks. Prices can soar into the thousands of dollars, and if you need a powerful PC for gaming or video editing, Chromebooks really don’t offer that much competition. But you’ll find some great deals among our more affordably priced, top Windows picks.

Who should buy a Chromebook?

A Chromebook powered by Google’s Chrome OS is a simpler, more optimized affair, a locked-down PC that’s little more than the Chrome browser—but it can be hundreds of dollars cheaper than a comparable Windows PC, too.

Chromebook buyer’s cheat sheet

Our quick-hit recommendations:

Updates occur behind the scenes, so you can just open the lid and go. Google handles all the security, too. The internet offers much of what you’ll need, whether it be working within web apps or Chrome plugins. But it’s the workarounds and little inconveniences that you may find annoying in the end.

There’s one more wrinkle: For years, there were Chromebooks and…not much else. Now there are Chrome OS-powered convertibles like the Chromebook Flip, as well as Chrome OS-powered tablets like the Google Pixel Slate. (Chromeboxes are a separate, niche class of standalone Chrome OS-powered boxes that lack a display.) Besides the obvious physical differences, a Chromebook is no different than a Chrome tablet. Google recently swung back into the laptop form factor, launching the Google Pixelbook Go: Available in various configurations from $649 all the way to up to $1,349Remove non-product link, the new clamshell Chromebooks boast up to a Core i7 and a 4K screen. We haven’t had a chance to review the Pixelbook Go yet, but we should soon.

Read on for a deeper dive into the differences between the Chrome OS and Windows platforms, as well as some recommendations on what to buy. Just be aware that the conversation will focus on inexpensive machines that can accomplish basic tasks. Chromebooks can’t hold a candle to $2,000 gaming PCs, though some cloud gaming services might allow them to eventually. 

chrome windows reflection 2 Mark Hachman

Chrome OS or Windows? The choice is up to you.

What’s the difference between a Chromebook and a PC?

Though you probably already know what differentiates a Windows PC from a Chromebook, here’s a brief refresher:…

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