What is a Chromebook?

Chromebooks are types of laptops that run using Google’s Chrome OS. They are not Windows nor are they Mac laptops. As such, you cannot run software designed for Windows/Mac on Chromebooks. Most of what you will be able to do with a Chromebook requires the browser, i.e. most tasks are done using web-based apps or certain apps that exist on the Chromebook such as Google Drive. Chrome is the browser on Chromebook, so any references to the Chrome browser on this site will also apply to the Chromebook.

Is a Chromebook suitable for students?

Chromebooks tend to be cheaper than laptops, are fast to load and importantly most modern models have exceptional battery life. This could be particularly important if you are thinking of getting a laptop for use all day in lecture theatres where power sockets are few and far between. However, unless you have downloaded your learning resources prior to going to lectures, you may find yourself unstuck if you are in a particularly large lecture room with many students trying to connect to the wifi simultaneously. Chromebooks do support USB drives, which is one significant advantage over tablets.

Finally, Chromebooks do not have full support for Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) or PDF documents. Whilst most files will open, they will be read only and in some cases complex documents (particularly Word docs with tables) struggle to be interpreted correctly, especially when imported as Google Docs in Google Drive. Most sellers claim complete compatibility, but this is not what we have found.

Google Docs is the main way to create documents, spreadsheets and presentation slides. To find out more about the difference between Google Docs and standard files, take a look at these slides: Google Drive – Ne’er Fear The Cloud.

Relevant pages

Useful links

  • PDF files – Google Drive or download the free Notable PDF app from the Store
  • Colour tinting web pages – Download the free Color Overlay – Irlen Filter for Chromebooks app from the Store
  • Helping you avoid distracting websites – Download the free Focus 45 app from the Store

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