Initially, Google designed Chromebooks for pure online use and optimized them for that. Over the years, Google has softened this concept by introducing offline-capable web apps (e.g., PWA), the Play Store (enables use of Android apps), and the integration of a Linux mode (allows use of Linux apps). Nevertheless, the online aspect is still the core component of Chrome OS running on Chromebooks.
The question arises whether these could not be an optimal platform for bloggers. And that’s the case! In this post, I go into the advantages and also show you the limitations.
Almost everything you need to blog is online [as if made for it]
Content management systems and website builders such as Joomla!, SQUARESPACE, TYPO3, WordPress, and WiX can be used directly in the browser. Via browser plug-ins or web apps, other helpful tools that support you in blogging are available. These can cover the areas of spell checking, image editing, and video editing, among others. On this blog, I’ll give you concrete examples of each of these aspects.
So the browser is an essential part of blogging. At the moment, Google has the highest market share with Chrome. And that brings us to Chromebooks, which, as mentioned above, have been designed and optimized for just that.
Chrome runs great on Chromebooks [efficiency]
Since so much of blogging happens in the browser, you mustn’t be limited in any way, and that’s the case here: Chrome runs incredibly performant and stable on Chromebooks!
I once lent a 250 € Chromebook with ARM CPU to a good friend. He tested it briefly and said that he didn’t notice a big difference between it and his €1800 Surface Book when browsing with Chrome. Of course, he could not open very many tabs at the same time due to the limited RAM, but the raw performance surprised him a lot.
Besides, I rented a mid-2019 MacBook Pro 13” with Intel Core-I5 (8th generation) in 2020 worth just under €2,500 via Grover. And even there, I couldn’t see Chrome running better on it than on my Acer Chromebook Spin 13 with Core-I5 (8th generation, weaker variant), which I bought in 2018 for €1,049. Chrome OS also starts much faster than macOS Catalina on the MacBook Pro.
And that brings us to the next benefit you can take advantage of! 😉
Chromebooks are cheap [cost savings]
Chrome runs incredibly well on comparatively inexpensive devices. If you buy a device with the heavyweight Windows 10 for the same price, the lack of performance is much more noticeable. Chrome OS is more lightweight. That might already be enough for you to start blogging as a hobby blogger or even for your start-up. However, the device should at least have enough RAM (not less than 8 GB). No operating system in the world can do magic here. If you treat yourself to a somewhat stronger device, there is no stopping you when using Chrome: It runs like a charm!
Besides the lightweight nature of the Chrome OS and Chrome combination and the low system requirements that come with it, some tools are free or at least very inexpensive to use. Of course, you can also use these tools on macOS and Windows devices, for example, but you can also benefit from them on a Chromebook. In other words: In the Chrome OS environment, you save money on purchasing your work device and software equipment!
On the other hand, some Chromebook models on the professional sector market have much better equipment but are very expensive, especially in the enterprise sector. There are also no limits in terms of software. It is up to you what you need, but the entry threshold for efficient and pleasant work is lower here than, for example, with Windows-based equipment.
Chromebooks have a long battery life [mobility]
If you are an Apple fan and already use one of these new Apple M1 devices, you will probably not complain about the battery life. However, the world often looks quite different for the predecessor models – or even Windows devices – with Intel chips.
There have already been devices in the Chromebook environment for years that come close to Apple Silicon awesome devices’ battery runtimes thanks to power-saving processors and Chrome OS’s lightness. These devices usually have a 50% or even 100% longer runtime than Intel or AMD devices running Windows 10 or macOS.
These are, for example, the somewhat older Acer Chromebook R 13 (review on cnet.com), the 2019 Google Pixelbook Go (review on techradar.com), and the 2020 Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook 10 (review on notebookcheck.net).
I owned the Acer Chromebook R 13 myself in 2017. I took it with me on a 5-day trip back then but forgot my power adapter at home. Nevertheless, I could use it almost without restrictions on the train rides and in the evening in the hotel (with lowered screen brightness) for about 12 hours for web and office. Even 2 hours of YouTube were in it. Because I would never have expected it, that experience ultimately convinced me of Chromebooks at that time. Today, someone in my circle of acquaintances still uses it as a master electrician on construction sites because it is so robust and the battery lasts a long time. 🙂
Chrome OS is very secure [security]
Google has developed Chrome OS on the premise that it is as secure as possible. Concepts like automatic updates, the use of sandbox technologies, a system self-test at boot time (“Verified Boot”), a hardware-supported hardware encryption of all files on the device, and the recovery mode ensure this. You can find more information on Google’s help pages here if you want to get to know more: link.
I didn’t mention a virus scanner in the listing because there is no such thing on Chrome OS!
So what does this mean for you as a blogger or for your startup?
You don’t have to worry about security, and your system won’t be slowed down by a virus scanner, as it is on Windows 10, for example. You will notice this when starting Chrome OS, using Chrome, copying files, and unzipping zip files. These things can take some time under Windows 10 – especially on older devices – because of the virus scanner. And time, as we all know, is money! Isn’t it? This factor is omitted on a Chromebook.
You don’t have to wait for Windows updates [time-saving]
If you are using Windows 10 devices for blogging and have an older or less powerful device, you will notice Windows updates running in the background. Web pages will load slower. Optimizing images with Photoshop will take longer. Converting your edited video clip with Premiere drags on. These are just a few examples that can affect your blogging efficiency.
Depending on the speed of your Internet access, system updates are fast on Chrome OS. That’s another factor that positively affects your efficiency. And it’s better for your nerves, too. :p
Say: By switching, you can free yourself from these limiting factors and publish your posts faster. 🙂
You can share content very easily [simplified collaboration]
Suppose you get involved with Google’s original idea for Chrome OS and work online when possible. In that case, it’s easy to share content with coworkers in the startup, other partners, or customers with today’s capabilities.
Two concrete examples are Google Drive and Google Workspace:
If you have a private Google account for Gmail, you’re probably already familiar with Google Drive. Maybe you’ve also shared files with others at school, college, or with your family. Google Workspace is the professional version of this. It’s kind of like a Microsoft Office 365 package. Only this one was designed from the ground up for online sharing. No more Excel files, which have been edited simultaneously, have been synced brokenly by OneDrive and other shenanigans. Through this cloud usage, your documents are also always backed up right away.
Publishing content to your blogs and social media is also straightforward to do.
If your start-up headcount increases or someone needs to switch Chromebooks for some reason, one can set up a new device very quickly. After the initial login, Chrome OS can restore the working environment through various synchronization capabilities. An initial setup is also quick. There is no multi-day update orgy like with Windows. That means that all employees are quickly on the same working level and can get started immediately. 🙂
Chrome OS is easy to learn [little training required]
Chrome OS looks quite limited compared to Windows 10 and macOS at first glance. A significant advantage is that it is relatively easy to learn how to use it. You and your (new) people can start right away without a long familiarization period.
Here is a screenshot of the Chrome OS Files app, which is a counterpart of the Windows File Explorer:
As you can see, the interface and thus the usage is kept very simple. If you use Chrome OS yourself, you will see that the essential functions are available and integrated easy to use into the system.
The limits of blogging on Chromebooks
Well, where are the limits? Chrome OS is a different operating system. You can’t just go and install installation files of software designed for Windows 10 or macOS on Chrome OS. That can’t work!
Suppose you are dependent on a Windows or macOS software, and there is no direct version for Chrome OS in the form of a web, Android, or Linux variant or an alternative product. In that case, I recommend a switch only under particular conditions. One viable path would be to use Chrome OS as a thin client for alternative offerings in the cloud for this purpose. That could be direct software offers, such as weVideo – an online video editing system – or even a complete Windows or macOS desktop system in the cloud. That would remove that limitation. Of course, this leads to further costs, but they can be lower than purchasing your equipment.
There are further limitations in the hardware equipment of Chromebooks, especially in the area of graphics acceleration.
The example Adobe Suite
If you use Adobe Creative Suite in your startup and to collaborate with external experts, that’s not easily possible on Chrome OS. This is because the suite is not available natively for Chrome OS. While there are some popular Android apps from the suite, they are still constrained at the moment. That might change in the next few years.
Recently, Parallels and Google started offering a direct solution for Chrome OS Enterprise to run Windows applications directly on Chrome OS. However, you need a high-performance device because a virtualized solution always has an unavoidable overhead, though. Dell and HP, for example, offer enterprise Chromebooks, but they are comparatively expensive.
If you don’t like this solution, your only option is to use cloud providers that offer virtual or physical systems with an unrestricted Windows or macOS instance. You can then use these with a client on Chrome OS to access your Adobe tools installed there. That works pretty well but can get arbitrarily expensive depending on how well the solution is implemented and how much system power you want to have available.
Limited 3D acceleration
There are various browser-based animation tools, such as WebAnimator and Spirit, that you can use to create animations for your website, among other things. These tools often require high graphics performance comparable to that of a gaming PC. Today’s Intel, AMD, and ARM Chromebooks without dedicated graphics cards usually don’t offer adequate performance for this. For example, Intel hints on medium.com that this will change with the introduction of 11th generation Intel Core processors “Tiger Lake.” Acer will introduce a Chromebook with AMD Ryzen 3700C with a high-performance GPU core in early 2021.
If you use such tools, you should check whether it is still possible to use them before switching.
As you can see, there’s a lot to be said for blogging on a Chromebook. Several advantages will save you money, increase efficiency and security, make it easier to collaborate with business partners and customers, and reduce the amount of training required for new employees. There are few limitations, but they can be worked around with various alternatives.
It also looks strongly like the above limitations will disappear over time, and the future of blogging on Chromebooks thus looks very bright! 🙂
So let’s go! 😀
Are you like me, totally convinced and already blogging on a Chromebook or still missing something, then feel free to leave a comment for the community 😉
Back to the series “Everything you need to know about blogging on Chrome OS.”