Google operating system shootout: Which should you buy, a Chrome or Android machine?

Which operating system will make you more productive?

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With a spate of Android and Chome PC introductions at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Google is suddenly an operating system beheamoth. If you're considering one, which is best for productivity, an Android or Chrome machine?

Mobility

For now at least, if you're interesting in a light, portable ultrabook, then a Chrome machine is your best bet. There are plenty of very good Chrome ultrabooks out there, including the Samsung Chromebok, Acer 720, HP Chromebook 14, the upcoming Dell Chromebook 11, and new Chromebooks coming out at CES. But similar Android devices have been few and far between, except for tablets, of which there are plenty. But for now, if you need an ultrabook, Chromebooks offer the biggest selection.

Price

Chromebooks tend to be less expensive than the new generation of Android PCs announced at CES. There's a simple reason: Chromebooks are much smaller, tend to have less powerful processors and much less hard disk space, and smaller screens. So if price is important to you, go with a Chromebook, because you'll typically be able to get one for under $300.

Apps

Android machines win this one hands down. AppBrain reports that there are now more than 1 million Android apps available, may of them free. There are far, far fewer apps for Chrome. So if apps are important to you, Android is a slam dunk.

Power

For now, Android machines tend to be more powerful than Chrome ones. For example, Lenovo's N308 has a Nivdia Tegra Quad processor, more powerful than what you'll get in Chromebooks. It also sports 500 GB of storage, again, far more than you typically get with a Chromebook.

General productivity

If you're primarily interested in productivity, Android is the way to go. For now, its machines are far more fully featured. They're typically desktops with good keyboards and sizable monitors, which are better for productivity than the tighter keyboards and 11-inch screens you typically find on Chromebooks.

Flexibility

Chrome is designed to be used when you have an Internet connection. When you're away from one, there's not much you can do. With Android, on the other hand, you can be productive whether you have an Internet connection or not.

Bottom line

If you care most about mobility, then Chrome is the way to go. The price-conscious will likely want to opt for a Chrome machine as well. For everyone else, though, Android will be a much better bet.

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