Considering a Chromebook

J.L. Allen

Puritan Board Sophomore
Folks,

I'm looking to replace a laptop that I've had for a few years now and seems to be displaying more and more issues. It's a Windows 10 for those who want the point of reference. That being said, I'm looking to replace the laptop with something new, for I've had bad experiences with refurbished computers. Price is a concern which eliminates Apple stuff from out of the gate. I'm specifically looking at Chromebooks as you may have guessed from the thread title. I don't know a whole lot about them, but they seem to fit basic tech users of which I am one (very basic). Here are my concerns that I can't seem to get straight answers for:

- How important is memory size on the device?
- Can I use Microsoft office products such as Word?
- Do any Bible software work on them (I have limitedly invested in Accordance and prefer it though I'm open to other programs)?
- In general, for a simple/basic user of tech, is it a good fit for seminary and, Lord willing, the pastorate?

Thanks!
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
To answer your specific questions:

1) Since Chromebooks utilize the cloud for much of what they do, lots of storage isn't necessary.
2) You wouldn't be able to install it locally. However, Office 365 has an online version of their software. It might be limited in terms of power and features, though. I'm not sure.
3) Accordance, as far as I know, will not work. I will ask my father-in-law, who works for them. Logos, though, has an online app.
4) For seminary and the pastorate, it would probably be fine. You can do all the basic tasks like writing emails, surfing the web, doing some research, writing papers and sermons, etc.

The biggest concern for me with Chromebooks are the fact that they are Google products. So their is a security risk. I have stopped using pretty much everything Google. Plus, the limited of the devices in general just make them very unappealing for me. You can get a decent but basic Windows 10 laptop these days for very cheap.

@Ben Mordecai might be able to speak more to this.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
I've been happy so far with the refurb HP convertible I got about 3 months ago except for the wide angle camera). It has a 10th generation processor which resulted in a big savings. $700 including tax i7 with SSD.

Prior laptop (also HP) was new with a bottom of the line AMD processor which I bought at clearance. $200. Great for single tasking, but slow to load and when switching tasks. It's our Zoom computer now.

Chromebooks are the modern day equivalent of dumb terminals from the 1980s. They aren't real computers - they just access computers elsewhere. Pretty much all your work will be in the cloud. You'll always need access to the internet to get anything done.

As for Office 365 - it's what we've used at work since Work at Home started early last year. If you are used to MS Office on your computer, it will be a learning curve. It seems to have almost all of the capabilities of regular office, but you may have to carry out different actions to get the result you want, and things may not be where you expect them to be.

If you have a Microcenter within driving distance, I'd recommend checking out what they have deals on.
 

J.L. Allen

Puritan Board Sophomore
2) You wouldn't be able to install it locally. However, Office 365 has an online version of their software. It might be limited in terms of power and features, though. I'm not sure.
3) Accordance, as far as I know, will not work. I will ask my father-in-law, who works for them. Logos, though, has an online app.
4) For seminary and the pastorate, it would probably be fine. You can do all the basic tasks like writing emails, surfing the web, doing some research, writing papers and sermons, etc.

The biggest concern for me with Chromebooks are the fact that they are Google products. So their is a security risk. I have stopped using pretty much everything Google. Plus, the limited of the devices in general just make them very unappealing for me.
My use of Word is very basic. I wouldn't need much. I look forward to hearing what your father-in-law has to say. Hopefully he's able to recommend software for me. I don't trust any of the tech companies. Pick a beast and work with it. I wish there was an alternative, but society no longer works like that. The limit of device options is no bother to me. I get overwhelmed with more than a handful of options!
Pretty much all your work will be in the cloud. You'll always need access to the internet to get anything done.

As for Office 365 - it's what we've used at work since Work at Home started early last year. If you are used to MS Office on your computer, it will be a learning curve. It seems to have almost all of the capabilities of regular office, but you may have to carry out different actions to get the result you want, and things may not be where you expect them to be.

If you have a Microcenter within driving distance, I'd recommend checking out what they have deals on.
There's a Microcenter in Chicago proper. I'll check that out. Everything I do on my laptop requires internet access, so that won't change things. As for the cloud, it seems like most folks I know are using it. That can make sharing easier I suppose.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
My use of Word is very basic. I wouldn't need much. I look forward to hearing what your father-in-law has to say. Hopefully he's able to recommend software for me. I don't trust any of the tech companies. Pick a beast and work with it. I wish there was an alternative, but society no longer works like that. The limit of device options is no bother to me. I get overwhelmed with more than a handful of options!

There's a Microcenter in Chicago proper. I'll check that out. Everything I do on my laptop requires internet access, so that won't change things. As for the cloud, it seems like most folks I know are using it. That can make sharing easier I suppose.
Honestly - and maybe it's because the kids abuse them- I wouldn't recommend a chromebook. You get could get more on a cheap and refurbished laptop.
 

J.L. Allen

Puritan Board Sophomore
Honestly - and maybe it's because the kids abuse them- I wouldn't recommend a chromebook.
I'm not sure I follow here. Kids seem to be quite creative at abusing most every thing. I have witnessed this with quite frequently having 5 kids (plus my own days under my parent's roof)! But what do you mean by this?
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'm not sure I follow here. Kids seem to be quite creative at abusing most every thing. I have witnessed this with quite frequently having 5 kids (plus my own days under my parent's roof)! But what do you mean by this?
While they serve a purpose I am not sure its the best option if you want other programs. I don't believe many had access to things outside G-Suite and the internet.

Also, from first hand experience (a student not me) punching a chromebook causes a lot of damage...
 

Paul1976

Puritan Board Freshman
Our family has two Chromebooks - one for me and one for my wife. I love them for what they are, although I am not sure one's right for you.

The big advantage is simplicity. The OS is lean and simple. You don't need much of a computer to get good performance. The battery life is astonishing on mine. You can get higher end ones like Google's Pixelbooks or very low-end ones in the $200-300 range. The cheap ones are probably a bit faster/more responsive than a comparably priced PC would be. I'm not sure that the more expensive ones make much sense. (I have one I got at a 60% off Black Friday discount a few years ago, but with the chip shortages now, sales like that are a thing of the past. It's a great computer, but overkill for how I use it.)

If you can get by with Google's office suite, it might do most of what you need for seminary. If you get a tablet, it is just as good as a PC for handwritten notes in class (maybe better if you consider battery life). Google's office suite should be fine for many things - I mostly use that. Office 365 is another option. I could see running into issues with some software like Accordance - I've never tried on a Chromebook.

If I were only to have one computer, I'd probably choose a Windows laptop. Since I have work and home Windows desktops, the Chromebook fills a nice nitch for me. I hope that helps.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
I bought this Chromebook on Amazon about six months ago and I love it. I just needed something primarily for getting on the internet and doing simple document editing and I needed a camera for Zoom meetings. I use Google docs for everything now and I am officially sold. It's easy to use, does everything I need, I love the auto-save feature, I have Google docs and Google sheets on my iPhone so I can access all my documents anywhere, and best of all its FREE. My Chromebook was really affordable so I'm sure you could upgrade to get something with more memory but this meets all my internet needs. Oh and its super lightweight so very portable.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
Pretty much all your work will be in the cloud. You'll always need access to the internet to get anything done.
This is mostly true, but where are you now a days you don't have internet? It's pretty much everywhere public and even in the rare occasions where I have found myself without internet (our current church building is the only place I can think of) I've just used my iPhone hotspot.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
I have a Chromebook. This one. I got it on a deep discount relative to MSRP but I'm not sure I would get it again. I use it mainly for watching TV, reading, and other simple tasks, which is hard to justify the cost for as the OS is too limiting. I got it hoping to use Linux apps with Croustini, which does work, but not as well as I had hoped. I use a Thinkpad as my main laptop. That said, I am a big fan of the Google Pixelbook's hardware. It has a great size, incredible battery life, and works as a tablet (including pen support).

- How important is memory size on the device?
RAM is important. Google Chrome eats RAM. I think I would not recommend getting a computer even a Chromebook with less than 8GB of RAM because of increasing memory requirements of this browser. Firefox is lighter on RAM, but it doesn't work as well on a Chromebook. As far as storage space, it's generally quite unimportant.

- Can I use Microsoft office products such as Word?
Your option is anything that runs in a web browser. The main options are Google Docs and Office 365. The former is free; the latter has a free version and paid subscription for more features. The biggest issue I've found is that working offline can be a pain. For example, I've had issues with something not going into offline mode correctly, being on a plane, and not being able to work on a document I was intending to for several hours offline. This is with Google Docs. Office 365 may work better in offline mode. I use Office 365 in the browser a good bit for work and find it has 95% of the features I need in Word and 75% in Excel.

When I was in college, it was important to be able to handle Word documents and work with other people using them. I'm not sure if that's the case for you.

- Do any Bible software work on them (I have limitedly invested in Accordance and prefer it though I'm open to other programs)?
I think this is going to be the biggest barrier. A good rule of thumb is to not expect to use anything you cannot run in a web browser on a Chromebook. Since you're using a web browser to post this, you can figure out what is available. There are increasingly options to run Android apps (but not all work) and Linux desktop apps (but this takes a bit of technical know-how) on a Chromebook as well. I have not found any web-based Bible software that compares to the major Windows/Mac software. Logos is starting to build out on web, and there are plenty of free resources, but you will be limited here. A lot of seminary students and pastors I know are big users of Bible software, so do not limit yourself here too much.

- In general, for a simple/basic user of tech, is it a good fit for seminary and, Lord willing, the pastorate?
It's not a bad choice, but you have to know what you are getting into. Just try only using Google Chrome for everything you do on a computer for a few weeks. If you can do it, you're probably ready to go.

The only other caveat I have is that a Chromebook is a Linux machine that is stripped down. I love Linux and it's my main OS (Kubuntu right now), but Chrome OS comes with some of the same limitations as Linux with hardware. I've found that bluetooth devices, especially sound, are quite buggy on my Chromebook. I've also found printer support can be annoying (it uses CUPS, the same software as Linux, underneath). These are the only ones I've hit, but just be aware with any other peripherals you might use. Another issue is that my wife's college (public university) as of two years ago when she graduated did not have an easy way for Chromebooks to get on the Wi-Fi network. They distributed a software package to access the secured network which was incompatible. It required working one-on-one with the help desk. There are weird issues like that you could face.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
There's a Microcenter in Chicago proper.
Looks like the cheapest non-Chromebook they have is a ASUS with basically the same specs at the Chromebook that is $90 cheaper. Probably sub-optimal performance at that price (Celeron, 4 gig RAM). Doesn't look like they have any deals on closeouts in the lower price ranges at the moment. If you have time, you might wait and watch for closeout deals.
 

J.L. Allen

Puritan Board Sophomore
This has been helpful. I think I'll reach out to the man at the seminary who deals with tech stuff to see if there would be connectivity issues. I have a secondary desktop computer that I can use for the Bible software. Although, I'll still be on the lookout for something I can use on the Chromebook. With this, I might have my bases covered.

Thank you, everyone!
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
I look forward to hearing what your father-in-law has to say.
I talked to him this morning. He said there is no way whatsoever to use Accordance on a Chromebook.

My honest opinion: The cons of a Chromebook far outweigh the pros. Unless you just simply cannot afford anything else, I would encourage you to get literally anything else.
 

Osnah

Puritan Board Freshman
I am a new PB user and still learning a lot, however this is an area where I am comfortable in. I have been a Sys Admin for 20 years. I can give you my opinion on Chromebooks vs Windows Laptops.

I have three laptops (one with Linux installed and two with Windows) and a Pixelbook Go (Google's own Chromebook). They each have different purposes. I use my Pixelbook Go most of the time. I will grab a laptop if I have a specific task that my Pixelbook cannot handle. That is very rarely.

Chromebooks run ChromeOS which is streamlined and very efficient. Yes, most of the stuff that we do nowadays are in the Cloud. However, I still use my Pixelbook offline for other tasks.

As far as security goes, a Chromebook is in my opinion very secure. There is a difference in security vs privacy. We can argue that Google is not ideal when it comes to privacy, but that is not the same thing when it comes to security. The ChromeOS is designed to prevent security risks, malware, etc. You have the option to even "powerwash" should you expect there to be an issue. That option is much easier than reinstalling Windows.

As far as storage and RAM is concerned with Chromebooks, they do not require much. However, you can now 'sideload' Linux on some Chromebooks which is a great option for 'power-users'. I have the Logos app installed on my Pixelbook, but it is a mobile app. While it works great for most of Logos features, there are some limitations. To work around this, I sideload Linux in order to run Logos as a full desktop program. It works just fine. That's one example of the benefit of having more RAM and storage space for a Chromebook.

While it is true that Google Chrome (web-browser) uses a lot of RAM, that is on PC's. The ChromeOS is much more efficient with RAM because it is Linux based. Windows machines have never been that great with RAM management. Linux on the other-hand is very efficient with minimal RAM. Of course more RAM is always better, but I would not say that it is necessary because comparing ChromeOS to the Chrome web-browser is not the same thing.

To address Office applications on a Chromebook, you can install the apps through the Google Store.

Chromebooks are very versatile and useful for the majority of users out there. I am able to store and create documents locally on my Pixelbook. I can browse the web, email, etc. I have apps that allow me to connect to work and manage all of my network from my Pixelbook. I can troubleshoot and fix 99% of my issues that I have at work from my Pixelbook remotely. I get calls out at 2AM sometimes. I always go for my Pixelbook instead of trying to load up Windows at that hour. Unless the Internet is down at work, I am able to resolve my issues with my Pixelbook. They are very useful machines that provide the majority of services that the average user may run into today.
 
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VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
This is mostly true, but where are you now a days you don't have internet?
Home on a solar-stormy day. I could go cable, but the cable company demands we also pay for the TV package--not very enticing when I haven't had a TV in over 40 years.
 
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