Chromebook versus Laptop

So my stepfather wants to get my mom a laptop for Christmas. Not an expensive, high end one, just a basic one. She is not very tech savvy,but she did manage to work Skype on my old laptop. She will mostly do a tiny bit of web surfing, Facebook, email and Skype and put pictures from her camera on it.

During our research we see chromebooks. Dr.Awkward doesn't have much knowledge of them. What are they best for? Would I be better off for one of them for my mom, or a regular laptop?

I picked up this cheaply on black friday, but was maybe hoping for a little more quality than this? Hoping to stay under $350...

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-x55...$pcmcat302900050006&lp=1&cp=1

Does your Mom have a Google account? Chromebooks are basically a love-song for Google services. Chrome will be the browser. Chrome Apps will be your programs for everything. Web Apps will be your only viable alternatives.
As a 'laptop' they are pretty limiting. As a WebBrowsing/Email/Chatting machine they are fantastic, fast, and relatively easy to maintain.
If you embrace the Google Environment and use Google Drive for your content then next to nothing lives on the actual computer. Your Google profile stores all the settings and apps and logging into any Chromebook should just pick up wherever you left off.

1) Can't install regular programs.
2) Usually limited on-device storage because it wants everything to live in Google Cloud.
3) If Internet is spotty you might become frustrated but Google is getting better and better about enabling content in offline mode.

On the flip side: Dead-simple troubleshooting and the device is for all intents and purposes just an access point for the Google profile.

Edit: Pre coffee post. Reader beware.

I've been researching this quite a bit. My girlfriend's Mom has an old Asus Eee PC that she loves but it runs XP and thus, has to be replaced within the next few months. Her Dad brought up the idea of buying her a Chromebook and I looked into it. Honestly, I can't recommend one of those at this point over an inexpensive PC laptop. The Chromebook idea is cool and though they appear inexpensive, it's the same low-end hardware you would get in a budget PC, except it's hard locked to Google everything which severely limits its options. Also as Rezzy said, it's wholly dependant on having reliable, decently fast Internet access. No Internet basically makes the thing useless.

I found her an Asus 10.1" AMD notebook with 320GB of storage, a good keyboard and trackpad, a touch screen and Windows 8 for less than $300 on sale recently and it can do whatever she wants. If you don't like Windows 8 Metro (and I don't blame you), ClassicShell is free and makes it just like Windows 7. Windows 8 is faster and way more optimised than even Windows 7 and runs very well on even low-end hardware. Windows 7 and 8 are also super reliable, easy to use and contrary to what people will inevitably say, viruses are not an issue if you aren't stupid online. Use Chrome or Firefox, install a free anti-virus (Avast is one of the best rated right now and free) and don't click unknown links. It's not hard and the majority of people who bemoan their parents constantly getting viruses frankly didn't teach this to them properly. My Mom knows squat about computers and has a Vista (yes, Vista) laptop. The number of viruses she's gotten? Zero.

The idea of the Chromebook is cool but even for its low price, it's still hamstrung with no particularly major advantages over an inexpensive PC laptop. I think Chromebook is a long-play strategy that will get more interesting and compelling as time goes on but right now, I don't see the value.

Thanks for the input guys. Looks like the cheapo laptop is the way to go for now.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

Windows 7 and 8 are also super reliable, easy to use and contrary to what people will inevitably say, viruses are not an issue if you aren't stupid online... It's not hard and the majority of people who bemoan their parents constantly getting viruses frankly didn't teach this to them properly.

Everyone's stupid online at some point, and this is stuff they shouldn't need to care about.

Even I've managed to run bogus binaries, and I'm very careful.

Just a few seconds of inattention, one time, and you're boned.

Not to mention things like 0-day Flash exploits. Don't have to be "stupid online" to get burned by one of those.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

I've been researching this quite a bit. My girlfriend's Mom has an old Asus Eee PC that she loves but it runs XP and thus, has to be replaced within the next few months. Her Dad brought up the idea of buying her a Chromebook and I looked into it. Honestly, I can't recommend one of those at this point over an inexpensive PC laptop. The Chromebook idea is cool and though they appear inexpensive, it's the same low-end hardware you would get in a budget PC, except it's hard locked to Google everything which severely limits its options. Also as Rezzy said, it's wholly dependant on having reliable, decently fast Internet access. No Internet basically makes the thing useless.

I found her an Asus 10.1" AMD notebook with 320GB of storage, a good keyboard and trackpad, a touch screen and Windows 8 for less than $300 on sale recently and it can do whatever she wants. If you don't like Windows 8 Metro (and I don't blame you), ClassicShell is free and makes it just like Windows 7. Windows 8 is faster and way more optimised than even Windows 7 and runs very well on even low-end hardware. Windows 7 and 8 are also super reliable, easy to use and contrary to what people will inevitably say, viruses are not an issue if you aren't stupid online. Use Chrome or Firefox, install a free anti-virus (Avast is one of the best rated right now and free) and don't click unknown links. It's not hard and the majority of people who bemoan their parents constantly getting viruses frankly didn't teach this to them properly. My Mom knows squat about computers and has a Vista (yes, Vista) laptop. The number of viruses she's gotten? Zero.

The idea of the Chromebook is cool but even for its low price, it's still hamstrung with no particularly major advantages over an inexpensive PC laptop. I think Chromebook is a long-play strategy that will get more interesting and compelling as time goes on but right now, I don't see the value.

Have you tried installing Windows 8 on the eee PC? I've had 3 or 4 come through my posession, and one of them had 8 (1000HA or HE) and it worked really well--just a thought if you are looking at tossing the little eeePC.

Gosh I love those things.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

I've been researching this quite a bit. My girlfriend's Mom has an old Asus Eee PC that she loves but it runs XP and thus, has to be replaced within the next few months. Her Dad brought up the idea of buying her a Chromebook and I looked into it. Honestly, I can't recommend one of those at this point over an inexpensive PC laptop. The Chromebook idea is cool and though they appear inexpensive, it's the same low-end hardware you would get in a budget PC, except it's hard locked to Google everything which severely limits its options. Also as Rezzy said, it's wholly dependant on having reliable, decently fast Internet access. No Internet basically makes the thing useless.
...
The idea of the Chromebook is cool but even for its low price, it's still hamstrung with no particularly major advantages over an inexpensive PC laptop. I think Chromebook is a long-play strategy that will get more interesting and compelling as time goes on but right now, I don't see the value.

I'd say it comes down to what you expect to do with a Chromebook, and if you take the steps to ready it for offline use ahead of time (mark files in Google Drive as needing to be local, do the same for an app if there's something to do there). It can't rip or burn optical discs at all, so if that's a thing you still do, it's a non-starter. I would think, though, that anything planned to be done on a 10" machine is probably related to being mobile and online at some point.

ChromeOS's value is that it gets a lot of traditional operating system cruft out of the way, and however small the local storage is, it's usually fast flash. No, no anti-virus to load up, no background agents for my graphics card or other devices slowing down the startup, no "fast startup" cheats slowing down the login just so they load up faster, all of which represent failure points, memory usage, and context switching penalties that are absent in ChromeOS. Updates are automatic, occurring roughly every 6 weeks, and relatively quick to apply. For the things it's designed to do, it just works.

I've gotten a lot of enjoyment from my Chromebook. I got the last version, the Acer C720, I believe. Intel-based processor, lots of memory. Works like a charm for exactly what it's advertised to do. Would I use it as my only computer? No, but as I have a tower PC at home it's a killer combo. If I really really need to get online and I'm not around a wireless network I can tether to my phone. And at that point I usually just look at my phone.

I installed Linux alongside ChromeOS (because tinkering). That's worked nicely. You can also use Chrome's remote desktop to log into another machine (like my desktop) and get some work done that way. All in all, money well spent.