Whether for taking notes, writing papers or just wasting time in class, it is generally accepted that a laptop is a necessary tool for survival in the modern classroom.
Most students searching for a new computer before or during college decide between Apple’s Macbook line or a range of machines running the latest Windows. But for students who are looking for a computer that can meet all their needs without a USC bookstore price, Google’s Chromebook may be the answer.
Chromebooks, available from a number of PC manufacturers like Samsung and Acer for as little as $199, run Google’s Chrome operating system, which is essentially the Chrome web browser with a few built-in web apps. It utilizes Google Cloud, so you don’t have to worry about losing your files or backing things up. You’ll have to forget your grand plans of simultaneously writing ten papers while directing US military satellites from your dorm, but in this case, less is more.
All of the needs of the typical students are accommodated by Google’s range of productivity tools. Need to write a paper or take notes? Google Docs allows you to not only create word documents, but to easily collaborate with others — an excellent tool for creating group study guides. In addition to Docs, Google’s office suites includes tools for creating spreadsheets and slideshows, comparable to Excel and PowerPoint.
Want to listen to music? You can buy songs through the Google Play store or sync your iTunes library, then listen through the Cloud. And for your typical time-wasting activities, the Chrome browser is lightweight and fast. After a few weeks of use, the battery life is still sufficient to manage a full day of classes.
The Chromebook does have its limitations. The Chrome OS means Mac or PC software can’t be installed, and the lack of processing power makes it a no-go for students doing high-level design or editing work. But, for the average student just looking for a computer to occasionally work on, the Chromebook is a cheap, cost-effective option that is definitely worth taking a look at. Just think, you’ll never have to explain to the folks how your $1200 Macbook was stolen because you didn’t take DPS’s advice and lock it while sleeping in the library.