Chromebooks are the electric car of laptops

Chromebooks have to make their mark in education first, because they're too full of what-ifs for consumers right now.

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“But then again,” you chime in, “what about when you’re offline?” Gmail, Docs, and Calendar have some offline capabilities built in, and there are a growing number of offline apps in the Chrome Web Store.

“But what if I need to edit a photo in Photoshop while I’m on a plane? Or if I need to save a huge video file on my system? Or if I need to keep Dropbox running?”

That’s where the Chromebook discussion ends, at least for the moment. Google is probably right that many, many things can be done entirely online these days, and that their own tools provide some of the best ways to work in the cloud. But the Chromebook looks right now to the average laptop buyer like an all-electric car looks to the average car buyer: full of what-if questions and untested theories of living. If you’re working mostly inside a school or your home, or if your company can foot the bill for mobile data coverage, this is less of a concern. For the person footing their own Chromebook bill, though, it’s a conversation stopper.

Not everybody is down on Chrome OS. One writer at ExtremeTech strongly believes in Google’s “long game”. And this writer, too, enjoys the very long battery life, focus-aiding simplicity, and surprising capability of his Chromebook. But I’ve also hacked my Chromebook to dual-boot with Ubuntu, because, well, I’m geeky that way, and I like to prepare for what-ifs.

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