Kenny Sahr

The $199 Chromebook Laptop Revolution!

Why spend $600 or more on a laptop when all you really need is a web browser? Kenny couldn't think of a reason why, either
HP Chromebook 11 (Photo credit: Courtesy)
HP Chromebook 11 (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Are you ready for your first $199 laptop? Meet the Chromebook, the bare-bones laptop designed by Google. Like most of you, I ignored the Chromebook until recently. It’s sort of like that scene from the Mel Brooks movie Spaceballs. What’s next, Google Spaghetti Sauce and Google Napkin Holders?

Things changed after I read a few articles about Chromebooks and Chrome OS, Google’s other free operating system. At work and home, I use the Google ecosystem. I rarely burn CDs or DVDs anymore. Though I will never give up on a home desktop computer, most of my time online revolves around a web browser with 8-10 tabs opened.

Which begs the question – why spend $600 or more on a laptop when all you really need is a web browser? Enter Chrome OS, an operating system that has one simple goal – to boot and allow you to use the Chrome web browser.

Chromebooks can’t burn CDs, they can’t run Windows, Office or Windows specific software. You can’t detect exoplanets or discover alien life.

On the other hand, with a Chromebook, you can boot in 7 seconds, spend $199-$299 on a laptop, never deal with updates (Chrome OS updates automatically) and much more.

The first Chromebooks hit the market in 2011 and they weren’t impressive. Manufacturers like Acer and Samsung had a learning curve – they weren’t used to building such inexpensive laptops.

The initial Chromebook reviews totally missed the point. Chromebooks aren’t durable goods like other laptops, refrigerators and washing machines. They aren’t packed with killer hardware and you can’t play anything more than casual games on them. But like things you buy at the dollar/shekel store, they’re practical.

According to Amazon, the best selling laptop is the Acer Chromebook. The #3 best selling laptop is also a Chromebook. In fact, Chromebooks are 7 of the 20 top selling laptops there.

For now, you can only buy a Chromebook in the US and a few European countries. They’ll eventually make it to Israel. I bought the Acer C720 Chromebook at Best Buy for $199. It has a 16 GB solid state hard drive, a simple keyboard and screen and comes with 100 GB of free Google Drive space for two years.

It booted within 7 seconds, I chose my input language and entered my wifi info; next thing I knew, I was logged onto my Google world and surfing the web. There’s no need to spend the extra $50 for the 4 GB RAM Chromebook – 2 GB is fine for up to 10 tabs opened and watching the occasional YouTube video. It has a very basic graphics editor; forget about video editing.

I love it! I’m writing this article on it. It weighs 2.76 pounds (1.25 kilos) and the 11.6 inch screen is fine. I watched an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on it last night.

Toshiba just released a 13 inch Chromebook and Samsung has a model similar to my Acer. If you need a basic laptop that gets you on the web and not much more, consider buying a Chromebook. I think these simple laptops are going to make an impact much larger than their price!

About the Author
Kenny Sahr is a startup marketing executive. His first startup, founded in 1996, was featured in Time Magazine and on 60 Minutes. Kenny moved to Israel from Miami, Florida. In his spare time, he is an avid music collector and traveler.
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