What it is
So what is a Chromebook? Basically, take everything you love about Google products (gmail/google drive), and design a laptop around those services. Google’s new approach to laptops has turned some heads; with a straightforward operating system and prices starting as low as $199, these Chromebooks have made a splash in the laptop market. Made by some household name brands, such as Acer/Samsung/HP, there are many different models to choose from.
What it does
The first thing you’ll notice about a Chromebook right away, is speed. These machines start up in seconds, ready to use. These are Google cloud-based machines, meaning simply, no frills. You won’t find a disk drive, or fancy speakers, or any other typical programs that often get in your way. These are budget computers, built for speed and ease of use, with the focus on keeping you connected.
When using a Chromebook you’ll notice virtually everything you do will be done in the Google Chrome browser. That being said, these make for killer homework machines. Being as they operate almost stritctly on Google Products, you’ll need an internet connection to be most effective. They do offer an “offline” mode that will temporaily save your data until you find that next wi-fi connection. Let’s say you’re writing a paper in your dorm, and have to run an errand; you could finish that last paragraph on the bus from your phone.
But these machines don’t have to be just for work, they also have room for a lot of play. With access to Google Chrome App Store you can take a brain break and play Angry Birds or catch up on the latest episode on Netflix.
While your child may not be able to convince you to buy the lastest macbook, the Chromebook’s affordability can give you peace of mind in buying them a solid homework machine, as well as providing a way for them to stay connected with their friends.
Google has a “Supervised Users” mode that puts the parents in control of what kids do on the internet. This feature also includes Google’s “SafeSearch” by default to help prevent adult content from ever popping up, though nothing is 100% accurate on the internet. As a manager of a “Supervised User,” you as the parent can track what your kids are viewing, block specific sites or approve which sites your child can access. All this can be done from any computer or smartphone with an internet connection.
As a parent you must keep in mind that these Chromebooks are made for the internet, and as we stress here at iParent, the internet is a big place with serious potential for both good and bad. Buying any laptop for your child is buying them access to the world wide web.
Go to your chromebook signin screen. On the right hand side, click “Create Supervised User.” Then Login to the account that will manage this new supervised user, and click next. Select a username and password for this new user, then click next. Then before handing it off, open the “Permissions” section then here you can specify which websites you want to block. Or simply block everything but specific sites. That simple.
They’re very affordable. Also: let’s face it, life is unpredictable and when using a Chromebook, all of your information, your documents and photos, everything is backed up in the cloud. So if your friend spills her soda on your Chromebook, it’s probably toast, but rest assured that your assignments are safe and sound in the cloud.
Another thing we have to mention, there aren’t any of those annoying operating system “Windows or Apple” updates. Google keeps everything up to date and secure around the clock, and if there’s ever any cool new features or tools, they make sure you know about it without you wanting to pull out your hair.
What’s Not So Good? (probably covered in the Pitfalls above)
If buying this for you or your loved one, there is always danger of someone stumbling on something they shouldn’t. This is a computer with internet. Anything is possible. Even in the Google Chrome App Store you or your child will have access to other apps and potential dangers.
What’s the verdict?
These Chromebooks are great for their intended use and are continuing to become more awesome. More developers and manufacturers are jumping on board, with that comes better hardware improvements and a better overall product for you the consumer. These are great devices for everyone from young teens to adults, just make sure you do the work to keep them safe.