Students are one of the most important demographics because they represent the next generation of our workforce.

As such, it’s vital that students have access to the latest technology in order to empower their learning.

In this article, we discuss two kinds of computers, namely traditional laptops and more modern Chromebooks which are partially designed by Google. We compare these products on a number of issues, making sure to gear our analysis towards student buyers. Towards the end of the article, we offer a buyer’s guide for potential students.

Before we begin, it should be noted that Chromebooks represent a collaboration between Google and other laptop companies like Samsung, Dell, Acer, Asus, and HP, to name a few. Google has designed the software for these machines while the laptop companies take the lead when it comes to the hardware. Each Chromebook is different, yet all Chromebooks have some basic similarities that we will emphasize throughout this article.


Comparison Table

Reliability And Updates 

When considering a Chromebook vs. a laptop, one of the most critical elements is sustainability. If you can’t rely on your computer to constantly fulfill your needs, its benefits are limited and you would likely be better off with a more consistent machine.

Part of this reliability entails maintaining itself to prevent malware, viruses, corrupted files, and any other maleficent activity from compromising your computer experience.

Luckily, all of Google’s Chromebooks update automatically in the background. This prevents you from having to manually update your Chromebook, though this can still be done by adjusting some simple settings. More than anything, this feature will appeal to less tech-savvy users who want to simply utilize their computer and nothing more.

When it comes to traditional laptops, the reliability varies depending on the model you go with. Most laptops will not update automatically, or their automatic updates will have some limitations like requiring the user’s consent. Of course, users can always download third-party applications (apps) that provide some automatic security measures.

In the same vein, some traditional computers are well-protected against cyber danger due to their basic constitution. For example, Apple’s laptops are highly lauded for their reliable functionality and lack of viruses. This is due more to Apple’s closed operating system which only allows applications from Apple’s App Store to be run.

All Chromebooks, on the other hand, run the Chrome OS operating system made by Google. This is a much more open operating system, allowing all kinds of application to run on the computer.  While this increases the diversity of applications available, it also makes the machine more vulnerable to cyber-attack and malware.


App Store And Operating System 

app store

This brings us to our next factor, namely the app store on these respective machines.

As we mentioned above, the Google Play Store on Chromebooks is very inclusive, though this means that some apps are hit or miss. There is a bit of risk involved in every application you download on a Chromebook, as you’re never really sure what you’re getting. You could have found a hidden gem or an invasive virus that will make your life a living hell.

Traditional laptops vary when it comes to the app stores featured on their operating system. Many students opt for a computer that runs the Windows operating system from Microsoft, like Microsoft’s own Surface Pro. This operating system is especially ideal for students due to its history of usage in school settings. Many students will be familiar with this interface, cutting down on the time it takes to master the laptop.

On the other hand, Apple’s App Store is considered exclusive, as an application must be approved by Apple for it to be featured in the App Store. This results in a much smaller selection of apps available, though Apple does a great job when it comes to weeding out malicious applications.

Both Chromebooks and traditional laptops have both entertaining and productivity applications available. That makes these technologies ideal for any age, as kids can benefit from games while adults might benefit more from productivity applications like Evernote.

Most students would benefit from the inclusivity of Google’s Play Store over Apple’s App Store, as the former will give students more freedom if their future course of study is undecided.

However, some students might benefit from the exclusivity of Apple’s App Store if they want to maximize their computer’s security. Even though Chromebooks update automatically, this doesn’t mean that they are flawless when it comes to preventing malware. Getting a virus, like getting a sickness, might render you unable to work temporarily while your computer is being fixed. This could be detrimental if you’re a student and have some test or project coming up.


Hardware Features

keyboard

When considering a Chromebook vs. a laptop, the hardware features that are available are an important consideration before making a purchase.

Many traditional laptops pale in comparison to modern Chromebooks, as the latter features cutting-edge technology. Many Chromebooks, like the Asus Chromebook Flip or the Acer Chromebook R13, are hybrid laptops, meaning they can be used as a traditional laptop or tablet. This means that they have touchscreens which dovetail well with many applications.

It’s difficult to summarize all the features that traditional laptops offer. Customers can buy ultra-affordable, simple laptops like the Lenovo Ideapad 210s. This laptop only costs $$ but uses a slightly antiquated processor and features a mediocre screen resolution.

Yet, customers can also buy exorbitant laptops equipped with every feature in the book. For example, customers can get the Yoga 920 hybrid laptop starting at $$$. This computer features the latest i7 processor from Intel, 1TB of onboard SSD storage, 11 hours of battery life, and Corning’s gorilla glass on its display. If you want a durable, fashionable device when doing school work, then this machine would be the way to go.

Chromebooks don’t have large hard drives like the Yoga 920, as most of the files and applications on these laptops are stored in the cloud. Customers can access this content via a Google account, which comes with 15GB of free storage in Google Drive.

Price

Since there are so many more traditional laptops available than Chromebooks, the price on the former varies considerably depending on what machine you get. Factors such as screen size, storage capacity, RAM memory, processor, and brand reputation will influence the price you pay for a traditional laptop.

As a student, if you go with a traditional laptop, you will be able to better control the price you end up paying. Given the large range of laptops available, you could either opt for something super affordable, something more mid-range, or a powerhouse machine loaded with every feature.

Chromebooks, on the other hand, don’t offer this diversity to potential customers. While the arsenal of Chromebooks has grown over the last few years, it still pales in comparison to all the other options available for students.

Still, customers can select cheap, mid-range, and expensive laptops within the Chromebook lineup. For example, Lenovo’s Flex 11 Chromebook can be purchased on Amazon for $$. In the same vein, customers looking for a more expensive, feature-heavy Chromebook can purchase Google’s Pixelbook on Amazon for $$$.

In this sense, Chromebooks are generally much cheaper than more traditional laptops, though customers can certainly purchase cheap traditional laptops or expensive Chromebooks.


Buyer’s Guide 

At the end of the day, we think you should choose your laptop based on the features that are most relevant to you, not according to whether the laptop is considered a traditionally designed machine or a Chromebook.

Many modern laptops offer a variety of cutting-edge features that all students will love, like productivity applications, touchscreens, the ability to stream video in HD, and built-in security measures.

If you are on a budget as a student, then a Chromebook will likely be your best option. We generally recommend Chromebooks over traditional laptops at low price points, as we think Chromebooks offer reliable speeds, an easily navigable interface, and decent security regardless of their price. Traditional laptops, on the other hand, are riskier endeavors when you purchase them for very cheap. You often get what you pay for when you buy an ultra-affordable traditional laptop.

If you are interested in using your laptop for gaming in addition to using it for school, then Chromebooks would not be ideal. Instead, you would benefit from a laptop with a first-rate graphics card and processor as well as a large HD display. For example, the Predator Helios 300 from Acer would be an ideal option for gamers.

Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop, 15.6" Full HD IPS, Intel i7...
  • Latest 7th Generation Intel Core i7 Processor 2.8GHz with Turbo Boost Technology up to 3.8GHz | Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Latest NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 with 6 GB of dedicated GDDR5 VRAM

Regardless of what laptop you get, remember that these devices are just tools. This means that they can negatively impact your education just as much as they can enhance it. Keeping this in mind while using them can prevent you from abusing these machines in learning environments.

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