What is it?
A Chromebook is a laptop running Google Chrome OS as its operating system.
The devices are designed to be used primarily while connected to the internet, with most applications and data residing in the cloud.
They are not designed to be full featured laptops like Windows or Apple machines.
Are they any good for business users?
Chromebooks are an interesting option for businesses because they are cheaper to buy and service than typical laptops running Windows. In addition, they are set up to use cloud computing which works well for businesses wanting staff to keep their files on a server rather than on their laptop.
Chromebooks also offer the prospect of radically reducing the amount of time IT staff spend ‘keeping the lights on’ for devices, and they offer high uptime, low service costs, and scalable deployment of new web-based applications and content.
There are other advantages – quick start-up times (they use flash-based storage rather than traditional hard disks), excellent battery life and optional 3G/4G connectivity for go-anywhere mobile working. Crucially, Chromebooks require (almost) zero maintenance. There are no lengthy patch / update cycles, upgrades, antivirus or anti-malware installs.
They are very secure
These days, security is paramount. On a Chromebook, files are safely stored in the cloud and the file system on a Chromebook is locked down with encryption.
There are some disadvantages
Working with a Chromebook requires a mindset shift away from localised storage and applications.
If your staff are not prepared to embrace corporate Gmail and Google Apps, then one of the biggest arguments against using a Chromebook is its reliance on an internet connection to do anything useful. In addition, they are not as powerful as Windows or Apple machines for intensive tasks like graphic design.
Which one should you buy?
Most of the major laptop manufacturers such as Acer, Toshiba, Dell, Asus, Lenovo and Samsung make Chromebooks.
You can buy them with Core i5 or even Core i7 processors and plenty of storage too.
You can have a screen size from 10.1 inches right up to 15 inches and can even have a touchscreen.
Prices start from about £160 for a basic model and go right up to about £1,000 for a top of the range Chromebook such as the Google Chromebook Pixel.
For businesses that want to equip a few team members with cost-effective laptops which encourage staff to save files to a central server, the Chromebook is a viable option.
For businesses, a model priced at around £250 should have a good enough specification to do the job. However, you need to ask is the Chromebook right for your firm; do you need more traditional based machines?