Chromebooks: Working inside a web browser

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The title pretty much sums up how a Chromebook works.

It’s a lightweight notebook running on Chrome as its operating system—the same internet browser we are all familiar with.

Is that good or bad for business? The answer really depends on what your business currently needs.

A Chromebook is nothing like your traditional Windows or Mac computer—true. It can only do “simple” things. But don’t count it out just yet from your options. Analysts believe that now is the best time for businesses to take Chromebooks seriously. Some even believe that you might be surprised to learn how its “simplicity” could mean a world of difference to your business in terms of savings and productivity.

Why Chromebook?

  • It’s light. Because all its applications and files are stored online, a Chromebook doesn’t need much on-board storage, thus making it lightweight. You can carry it around and work anywhere you like. You also have the optional 3G/4G connectivity that’ll come in handy when you’re out of the office.
  • It’s fast and secure. Expect quick boots. It updates automatically so it doesn’t slow down over time. Current options are optimised to run today’s business apps. And since apps and data are safely stored in the cloud, a lost Chromebook won’t compromise vital company data.
  • It’s cheap. It’s inexpensive compared to PCs and laptops; priced at $399-$500. The cheapest laptops running on Windows are priced at $500, whilst Apple computing devices cost more than $1000. Want to know how much you can save for your company? Calculate your savings here. 
  • Works offline. Chrome OS enables Google Drive’s offline mode by default. The changes you make to a document will sync and save back to the cloud as soon as you reconnect to the internet.
  • Requires little IT maintenance. It’s easy to operate so users can self-install and self-enrol their devices without the need for IT support. This reduces the need for training. There are also no lengthy patching cycles, upgrades, and antivirus/anti-malware installations.

What’s the latest?

Now, Aussies have more Chromebooks to choose from. Just this week, Hewlett-Packard (HP) released its latest addition to the growing options of Chromebooks (namely Samsung and Acer) introduced to the Australian market since 2011.

The HP Chromebook 11 is being described as a Chromebook designed with business users in mind. It has an 11-inch display, 1366 x 768 pixel screen, a 16GB hard drive, a battery that’s said to last for 6 hours, and weighs a little over 1 kg. It can be recharged using the juice of an Android device with a micro-USB connection. The current market price of HP Chromebook 11 is $399 at Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi.

Why it’s not for everyone? 

Many argue that since a Chromebook runs on a web-based OS, steady internet connection is needed at all times, otherwise you can’t do much with it. You would not be able to access your files, including your emails, unless you’re online. This could pose a major problem to those who are required to work outside the office because you have to remember, here in Australia, we don’t yet have access to public Wi-Fi in many public areas.

It also has compatibility issues. In an interview with TechRadar, Jeff Nolan, a senior director of On Demand at Ping Identity, expressed disappointment that his Chromebook can’t use third-party services like WebEx.

Additionally, Chromebooks don’t support Java. So, if you’re using a web app that runs on Java, you’ll need to go to a remote desktop solution to run it.

If you’re doing word processing and spreadsheets for work, you’ll be fine with a Chromebook. However, if you’re work requires photo editing or PowerPoint presentations, you’ll need a more suitable device.

Chromebooks belong to the web-centric future of business computing. Investing in them, say for your BYOD program, can significantly reduce IT support and overall cost.

Understand what it can and can’t do for your business. Keep in mind that Chromebooks can’t do what your traditional laptops and PC software can do—for now. Eventually, as Google improves its Chrome OS and web apps, it will create more benefits to working online. And, that’s something we can all look forward to.

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