Chromebook laptops have long had a reputation for being some of the most private and most secure computers available. For details, you might want to read my previous article at http://bit.ly/2r2PhZS and the dozen or so other articles by other authors, starting with the list shown at http://bit.ly/2r0L9ty. What fascinates me is that these highly secure laptop computers are amongst the easiest-to-use computers and also are amongst the cheapest laptops available today. A number of manufacturers have had great success with Chromebooks, selling millions of them to schools, corporations, and private individuals alike. They are very popular amongst people who are not computer experts, including adolescents, senior citizens, and lots of adults who have never used computers successfully before.
By definition, a Chromebook is a laptop computer but a different version, called a Chromebox, is available as a desktop system. For some reason, Chromeboxes have never become as popular as Chromebooks. Now ASUS is trying to change that.
ASUS has produced Chromebox computers before but recently announced the Chromebox 3 series of desktop computers. Amongst other things, the announcement stated:
“ASUS Chromebox 3 is the latest addition to the ASUS Chromebox family and is powered by an 8th Generation Intel Core processor and DDR4-2400 memory for faster, smoother and more energy-efficient performance. It is equipped with a versatile USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port for fast data transfers, power delivery, and DisplayPort connectivity. ASUS Chromebox 3 will also support Google Play.”
Like most other desktop computers, the ASUS Chromebox 3 systems ship without a monitor. Also like some other desktop systems, but not all, the Chromebox 3 does not include a keyboard or mouse. The buyer is expected to supply those separately. The system accepts all the commonly-available monitors and USB keyboards and mice so perhaps you already have those sitting in the closet, devices that were used on an earlier Windows computer.
If you are looking for a low-cost, highly secure computer that never gets viruses, you might consider a Chromebox. Why would you want a Chromebox or Chromebook instead of a Windows or Macintosh system? Here are a few reasons I can think of:
A Chromebox or Chromebook can be much cheaper than a Windows or Macintosh system.
A Chromebox, along with a large monitor, would be better than any laptop with a small screen for use by senior citizens who have vision problems or have difficulty using a laptop’s small keyboard and built-in trackpad. Almost all senior citizens report that using full-sized screens, keyboards, and mice is preferable to using laptop systems.
NOTE: A friend of mine purchased a Chromebook laptop for his 85-year-old father when the older man moved to an assisted living facility. The father previously had used a Windows computer although without much success. He found the Windows operating system to be overly complex and the constant issues with viruses, updates, and other security issues overwhelmed him. He soon stopped using the Windows system. Everything changed when he received the Chromebook, however. It was far simpler to use. He used the Chromebook daily to send and receive email with his grandchildren, to play online games, and more. I am guessing that if he had received a Chromebox instead of a Chromebook, a larger screen would have benefitted him even more.
A Chromebox or Chromebook is fast enough to do everything you want to do on the Internet. If you are like most people, you will find that 90% of the time you are on a computer, you are using a web browser. Everything else on your computer therefore is added overhead that slows down your Internet experience. This may include virus/malware scanning software, background processes, and more. The Chrome operating system takes all this out and gives you the web browser and a great way of connecting to it.
Word processors, spreadsheets, games, Facebook, Twitter, calendar programs, email programs, graphics programs, video recorders and editors, CRM applications, password managers, journaling programs, and much more are all available on a Chromebox or Chromebook. Most of them are available free of charge. See https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/extensions for the full list of Chrome apps.
A Chromebox or Chromebook can store up to terabytes of information on Google Drive. After all, the Chrome operating system was written by and is supported by Google. As a result, Google Drive is tightly integrated into the Chrome operating system. Many other cloud-based file storage services will also work on Chromebooks and Chromeboxes, such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Amazon S3, and more.
A Chromebox or Chromebook never gets viruses.
A Chromebox or Chromebook boots up in a few seconds, usually in less than ten seconds.
A Chromebox or Chromebook updates its operating system invisibly as a background task. You don’t see messages of “Don’t power off because the operating system is downloading updates…” or any similar messages.
Which system would you prefer to lose to a thief while traveling: A low-cost Chromebook or a more expensive Macintosh or Windows system? The financial risk is lower with a Chromebook. Yet a Chromebook might be more than powerful enough to meet the needs of your “second system.”
These systems work best when connected to the Internet via wi-fi but hundreds of Chromebox and Chromebook apps also will work when offline as well.
There is no maintenance whatsoever except to power up and power down once in a while.
In short, a Chromebox or Chromebook computer boots up quickly, performs most tasks quickly, never gets viruses, performs almost all the computing tasks I ever need to do, and is
chea… uh, inexpensive.
However, not everything is perfect.
The biggest downside I see is that these systems have modest power. While they will work well for the applications most people use, they do not handle the latest high intensity graphics game around. If you are looking for something to run games that are similar to what you see on an Xbox or a Nintendo system, you shouldn’t even think about using a Chromebook, Chromebox, or any other inexpensive computer. Instead, get out your checkbook and purchase a high-end system with state-of-the-art graphics.
Next, anyone who is already an experienced Windows or Macintosh user probably will not be satisfied with the lower-powered Chrome operating system. Even so, the price difference is still very attractive. Even if you already own an expensive and powerful Windows or Macintosh desktop system for every-day uses, you still might want to purchase a low-cost laptop system for use as a second system while traveling or even while sitting on the living room couch, watching television.
I believe that a Chromebook is ideal for many people, either as their primary computer or as a low-cost second system. Also, if you are looking for a gift for an adolescent, a senior citizen, or for anyone else who is not a “power user” of computers, a Chromebox or Chromebook might be an excellent solution.
Chromebox and Chromebook systems are available from most computer retailers. Prices vary widely as sales appear and disappear all the time. You might first look at the Asus Chromebox 3 systems on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2r2XgWQ and then shop around to see if you can find even better prices. Of course, ASUS is not the only manufacturer of Chromeboxes, simply the manufacturer of some of the most powerful Chromeboxes available today. You might want to look at competitive brands as well.
NOTE: This article was written on my older ASUS C302C “Flip” Chromebook. (See https://www.asus.com/us/2-in-1-PCs/ASUS-Chromebook-Flip-C302CA/ for the details of this system.) I won’t be purchasing a new Chromebox simply because I already own a Chromebook and it already meets my needs nicely. It has become my primary computer for traveling and I travel a lot. I see no need to replace it. However, if I needed a new desktop system, I would be strongly tempted to purchase an ASUS Chromebox 3.
NOTE #2: I am not compensated in any way for publishing this article. I am simply a satisfied user of Chromebooks and want to “spread the word” about Chromebooks and Chromeboxes to the readers of this blog.