Can Low-Cost Chromebooks Actually Replace MacBooks?

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 19, 2012

Recently, we've been reporting on how Google is aggressively pushing Chrome OS, and the cloud-centric operating system is arriving on machines that are not only low priced, but Google is offering free incentives worth more than the computers running Chrome OS. We covered the arrival of Samsung's new Chromebook portable computer running Google's Chrome OS and selling for the strikingly low price of $249. And now, Acer is out with a new C7 Chromebook that sells for only $199 (seen here). Interestingly, noted open source advocate Simon Phipps, writing for InfoWorld, says he has ditched his MacBook for a Samsung Chromebook.

Phipps writes that he has bought the Samsung Chromebook with 3G support, so that he is not dependent on Wi-Fi for an Internet connection. He reports:

"Since the device is just a browser in a box, there are as many applications for it as there are Web pages in the world. Web pages that have been designed as HTML5 applications are especially interesting, though."

Indeed, this aspect of Chromebooks was initially seen as a weakness. Many argued that Chrome OS was too aggressive in its cloud-only stance, but there is a new class of users who are happy to use cloud applications and eschew local ones. For them, these low-cost Chromebooks make sense. 

As is true with the Samsung Chromebook, Google is offering free giveaways worth more than the cost of the Acer Chromebook. If you buy the 3-pound Acer system, you get two years of 100GB of free storage through Google Drive, and 12 free Gogo Internet passes.  Some people are even buying these cheap Chromebooks and then putting their own Linux distributions on them. You end up with a solid computer running Linux and a ton of free cloud storage.

It will be interesting to see if these Chromebooks make a mark over the holiday season. They're heavily advertised on TV and Google is probably going to offer more freebies to move them.