ChromeOS Overview | Trusted Evaluations

Verdict

ChromeOS will not be a paradise for the tech head, however the world could be a poorer place with out it. The Chromebooks it powers present essentially the most reasonably priced, least headache-inducing resolution for people who need an inexpensive laptop that’s straightforward to make use of and doesn’t run too slowly with restricted specs.


  • Android app assistChromeOS can now run many Android apps and video games, making Chromebooks versatile light-use PCs.

  • Android system linkingYou possibly can hyperlink an Android telephone with ChromeOS to unlock its safety and present telephone notifications.

  • Google app assistThe core Google apps come preinstalled on ChromeOS, together with Google Play and Google Docs.

Introduction

ChromeOS is the software program utilized in Chromebooks. It’s made by Google, and there’s much more to it than the Chrome web browser you will have used earlier than. 

This can be a full working system, a key side of the price range laptop computer and hybrid pill/laptop computer market. However is it any good?

For lots of oldsters, it’s excellent, notably those that need a easy PC to cowl some dwelling workplace fundamentals and light-weight leisure. 

Nonetheless, you shouldn’t purchase a ChromeOS PC with out understanding its limitations, and the sorts of software program it can not run. Let’s dig in. 

Design

  • Clear and easy House Display design
  • A concentrate on ease of use
  • Has a secondary tablet-style mode for choose units

If in case you have some expertise with the Android software program on telephones and tablets, ChromeOS could appear fairly acquainted. The 2 aren’t the identical, however there’s a sure stylistic similarity. They’re each made by Google, in any case. 

ChromeOS Home Screen
ChromeOS House Display – Picture Credit score (Trusted Evaluations)

It’s largely an area the place your rounded, friendly-looking app icons reside. 

The large distinction between ChromeOS and Home windows or MacOS is that your default dwelling display is principally a useless area. You don’t drop app shortcuts right here, or widgets. 

It’s a clean area onto which the app home windows you open can sit. This fashion is all about zero-clutter simplicity. 

ChromeOS app screen
ChromeOS app display – Picture Credit score (Trusted Evaluations)

To additional show that time, the important thing management in the primary ChromeOS window is named the All the things button. It hundreds up a pane of your put in apps. 

There’s additionally a moderately MacOS-like dock of helpful app shortcuts alongside the underside of the display. It’s made up of apps you possibly can place there manually, and apps which can be operating. 

When you purchase a hybrid Chromebook you might also get to fulfill the opposite extra tablet-like facet of ChromeOS. 

That is the place the primary view turns into a sea of app icons. And whenever you open up an app, it takes up the entire display. With the extra laptop-like Chromebook view you possibly can transfer a number of apps about in scalable home windows, simply as you would possibly do with a extra conventional Home windows or MacBook laptop computer. Right here’s what the pill view seems to be like:

ChromeOS screenshot
ChromeOS screenshot – Picture Credit score (Trusted Evaluations)

Whereas I discover ChromeOS fairly restrictive, as an individual who has tinkered with Home windows and MacOS for many years, I also can admire how there’s so little to confuse or get incorrect right here. I even get the sense ChromeOS’s Settings menu isn’t actually designed for use that always by the common punter. It’s what you want, and a bit of extra.

Customisation

  • Very restricted customisation on provide
  • Mild and darkish themes

One draw back of ChromeOS’s pervasive simplicity is there’s not a lot you are able to do with a Chromebook to make it really feel your individual. 

The system’s Personalisation part is minimal. You possibly can change the wallpaper, and the screensaver, and select whether or not to make use of the Mild or Darkish interface theme. 

As in a contemporary telephone, Darkish mode makes gentle textual content on a darkish gray background, moderately than black textual content on a white background. 

ChromeOS customisation options
ChromeOS customisation choices – Picture Credit score (Trusted Evaluations)

This apart, your solely default customisation is what apps to place within the dock on the backside of the house display. 

There’s a workaround to get widgets on your house display. Nevertheless it’s not a very good one. Set up Taskbar from Google Play and you’ll specify a pane of Android widgets, which you’ll be able to convey up at any time. Nonetheless, it’s not the identical as widgets really being sat in your Chromebook’s display. 

This was one thing I solely appeared into as a part of this evaluation, having used Chromebooks for years. And, frankly, I used to be not that impressed by the way it felt in use.

Apps and Software program

  • Helps Android apps by way of Google Play
  • No Microsoft Workplace assist, however there are alternate options

ChromeOS is just not what it was once, in a constructive sense. In its early years, greater than a decade in the past, Chromebooks have been meant for use solely on-line. They’re much extra broadly helpful than in these days. 

The bottom collection of preinstalled apps nonetheless contains on-line Google favourites like Docs, Gmail and so forth. However since 2016, Chromebooks have additionally supplied Android app assist. 

ChromeOS App Store
ChromeOS App Retailer – Picture Credit score (Trusted Evaluations)

These don’t at all times run completely, however this performance has fully eclipsed the ChomeOS apps and extensions you used to have to make use of. Google is within the technique of winding down that previous system totally. 

The caveat, aside from compatibility and efficiency, is that you simply received’t discover all of the Android apps out there to the common telephone or pill. For instance, there’s no Microsoft Workplace 365 assist. 

ChromeOS Google Docs
ChromeOS Google Docs – Picture Credit score (Trusted Evaluations)

You possibly can run a few of the different third-party workplace suites, although, together with WPF Workplace and Mobi Techniques OficeSuite. 

Streaming service assist is sweet, although. Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, Mubi, NOW – they’re all right here. Apple TV+ is just not, however that’s no shock.

You also needs to keep in mind ChromeOS is comparatively weak for inventive fields like digital artwork and music creation. There’s no entry to pro-grade software program suites. And whereas some cell variations of professional apps are right here, like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, Apple’s iPad is rather a lot higher for inventive jobs. 

ChromeOS App Store
ChromeOS App Retailer – Picture Credit score (Trusted Evaluations)

Updates

On the time of evaluation, ChromeOS is at model 114. Releases arrive round as soon as a month, and these are simply the “mainstream” releases meant for most of the people. 

Google makes it a doddle to change to the Beta and Developer channels, for extra intrepid customers. Beta provides new options faster than the default Steady mode, however you might encounter extra bugs. Developer mode provides updates which can be nonetheless successfully in progress, with new releases usually a few occasions per week. 

I like to recommend sticking to the Steady mode until there’s one thing you already learn about and need to try. In contrast to most Android telephones you don’t have to attend month after month for updates to reach, as a result of there isn’t any further layer of producer software program right here. 

These software program updates don’t final eternally, although. Every mannequin has an AUE, an “auto replace expiration” date.  All Chromebooks include no less than 5 years of updates from their unique launch, however the large latest releases appear to be getting 7 or 8 years of assist. Google lately introduced this was being expanded to 10 years of assist on Chromebooks launched in 2021 or newer.

You possibly can even try these dates for your self. All fashions’ expiration dates are listed on the Google Assist website

Efficiency and Gaming

ChromeOS is the polar reverse of Home windows, primarily based on our expertise of reviewing Chromebooks for years. 

With Home windows, you possibly can count on a little bit of a tough time when you attempt to run it on shoestring {hardware}, however the potential of a robust Home windows PCs is unparalleled. ChromeOS’s key advantages shine on weak {hardware}, however the system is simply not superb at profiting from a robust processor and a great deal of RAM. 

This is the reason my favorite Chromebooks are usually a few of the most cost-effective ones you’ll find that also have a decent-quality IPS display. 

Why? The extra superior video games and apps don’t usually run all that nicely on ChromeOS. It’s all the way down to the interpretation layer ChromeOS makes use of to make Android apps run. A complicated sport you would possibly count on to run decently nicely on an Android telephone or pill will usually run poorly on an entry-level or lower-mid-range Chromebook. 

ChromeOS settings menu
ChromeOS settings menu – Picture Credit score (Trusted Evaluations)

I’m speaking about gradual loading, and poor body charges. And also you’ll nonetheless see some compatibility niggles, like apps that load as phone-size home windows initially, a reminder that what you’re operating was not made for the factor you’re utilizing to run it. 

Issues have improved in newer years, with Vulkan API assist for some fashions and underlying enhancements. As a part of this ChromeOS abstract, I went again to the HP Chromebook x2, and it might play most higher-end Android video games OK, regardless of struggling a bit with Ark: Survival Advanced. It’s probably helped by utilizing a Qualcomm CPU that’s similar to the type utilized in Android units.

Prime-tier Chromebooks with Intel Core-series processors can take the brute pressure method right here to an extent. However I are likely to battle to suggest dear Chromebooks to most people. The quantity of issues you are able to do on a robust Chromebook pales compared to what you are able to do on a mid-range Home windows laptop computer. 

Many years of gaming historical past, pro-grade apps utilized by actual trade professionals – these items doesn’t apply when coping with a Chromebook. 

Minecraft on ChromeOS
Minecraft on ChromeOS – Picture Credit score (Trusted Evaluations)

Nonetheless, there’s nonetheless loads of enjoyable available right here. A bunch of the larger-scale Android video games can be found on ChromeOS, together with Star Wars: KOTOR II, Grand Theft Auto III, Genshin Influence and Stardew Valley, alongside cell favourites like 5 Nights and Freddy’s and Bloods T.D. 6. 

The brand new stuff? Not a lot. Nonetheless, ChromeOS lastly acquired Minecraft in June 2023. I’ve been ready years for that to occur. It’s only a disgrace it prices £19.49, moderately than the £6.99 you’d pay on Android. Or £12.50 when you already personal the Android model. Nonetheless, that’s probably dozens or a whole bunch of hours of leisure proper there. 

Newest offers

Do you have to purchase it?

Dependable and fundamental worth computing

This method excels at offering the fundamentals of computing to individuals who don’t need to spend an excessive amount of cash. Its interface is comparatively easy to know, and core system navigation tends to really feel higher powered by low cost {hardware} than Home windows would.

ChromeOS is just not a system for energy customers

Whilst you can run loads of apps, they are going to be cell variations moderately than the pro-level apps you need to use in Home windows. And when you purchase a bottom-rung Chromebook, you’re more likely to discover it struggles to play some video games nicely.

Last Ideas

ChromeOS is a neat working system that gives one thing a bit of totally different to Home windows or MacOS. It’s not likely a direct different to these methods, though a Home windows laptop computer is at all times the highest rival to a Chromebook. 

The system remains to be the most suitable choice for many who need an inexpensive productiveness laptop and don’t need to put up with the annoyingly gradual really feel of a low-powered Home windows PC. 

After 12 years of growth, ChromeOS arguably hasn’t moved on as a lot because it may have. However its place within the tech panorama remains to be deserved. When you’re contemplating a ChromeOS system, the HP Chromebook X2 11 is our favorite price range decide proper now, or try our greatest Chromebooks information.

How we check

Testing was carried out by way of our real-world expertise with this working system. The OS was examined for apps, software program and compatibility capabilities, alongside the testing of recent options added to this model of the working system.

Used as our predominant working system for over per week.

We examined OS apps and options by way of real-world use.

FAQs

Can you put in ChromeOS on a laptop computer?

ChromeOS Flex might be put in on many laptops, together with some MacBooks, utilizing a Google installer

Can ChromeOS run Home windows apps?

It may solely run apps made for Android and Chrome, not Home windows.

Can ChromeOS run Microsoft Workplace?

No, you can’t run the Home windows model, or the Android model at current.