Macbook vs Chromebook

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by krause734, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. krause734 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2010
    I was almost ready to buy a Macbook air, but then I saw the Samsung Google Chromebook on Amazon. The Chromebook is looking enticing for only $249. This is kind of apples/orange but I thought I would compare them anyways since I am debating between the two.

    1. Only $249: not a big deal if I lose it or it gets stolen unlike being mildly paranoid about scratches/losing a Macbook. I can buy four of these for the price of one Macbook.
    2. Does almost everything I need in a laptop: email, calendar, browsing, spreadsheets, documents.
    1. Weaker screen, internals, and battery life. 16GB Hard Drive and 2GB memory.
    2. No real operating system, no great graphics/games/programs.
    3. They are still working out the kinks on Chrome OS.

    Any advice/sarcasm and other pros/cons welcome.
  2. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    Chromebooks are interesting, but in the end they are far too limiting for my use
  3. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    Weaker internals are tough for me. Everything is in the cloud is something I am not ready for. But for basic browsing, email, etc, I could probably live with a CB. I forget, can you increase the memory? I remember reading up on that but I think I got sucked into increasing the disc space.
  4. potvkettle macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2012
    Macbook Air/Chromebook user

    I've had the Samsung Chromebook for about a year now (I originally posted about it here).

    I've used Google Apps and web products for quite awhile, so I find the Chromebook quite useful. However, there are some apps that I enjoy using on my Macbook Air that have no Google app cognate. So, if you're in that boat, you're better off getting the Macbook. This addresses point (2) in your Con list above.

    Point (1) -- (a) battery life on my machine is on par with my 2011 13" Macbook Air, which is to say that I regularly get 5-7 hours out of the Chromebook (admittedly, I am a bit of a tab-hawk and try to watch how many I have open at one time). (b) Internals -- 16gb drive and 2gb ram. Given what you're doing the with the Chromebook, the ram is not that big of a deal (caveat: see previous tab-hawk comment); also, if you know what the Chromebook is and what it's for, then 16gb of internal storage is also not a limiter. If you don't have a Wifi connection, then you'll be out some of your capabilities, but with some foresight, you can have any important documents or projects ready for offline mode. (c) The screen -- here's where I had a problem. The resolution is okay; it's not Retina, but it's not bad. However, my screen developed an issue with displaying vertical lines. Definitely a hardware issue and my fault for not taking it back when I noticed it (and YMMV), but the issue does exist in my n=1 experience.

    Point 3 -- Chrome OS is quickly becoming pretty stable; I don't think you'll have any problems here.

    If you're considering spending Apple money, and the Chromebook fits your bill, get the Pixel

    As a second machine/tablet replacement (if you just like a physical keyboard), the Chromebook is a great tool. If you've done the research and know what you're getting, the Chromebook is still a great tool. Although there are some apps I'd miss from my Macbook, I could see going to Chrome and having most of my needs met.
  5. roadbloc macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
    ChromeOS is simply the Chrome web browser and nothing more. If you need to run actual apps rather than web apps, Chromebooks are lame.
  6. Dustman macrumors 65816


    Apr 17, 2007
    Why not try a chrome book, and if you hate it you're only out 249.99. If it doesnt work out, sell it, cut your losses and move onto a Macbook.
  7. macmanmatty macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2005
    They still make 16 GB hard drives??
  8. RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    Chromebooks are awesome(even the small capacity ones) as long as you're comfortable storing almost everything in the cloud and therefore relying on an internet connection to get your stuff. I'm not, so I would never buy a Chromebook unless it had a large capacity drive.

    Yes, you could get an external HDD for your stuff, but then why have an ultra portable laptop that you have to have tethered to a storage device?

    The same goes for battery life. An ultra portable laptop should be one that doesn't have to be plugged in within a certain amount of time. Also using the I/O on the Chromebook will(just like any machine) decrease battery life even more. And when the estimated or stated battery life is optimal based on low usage or low-power settings, using it like an actual computer with devices connected to it will almost certainly require you to have it plugged in within 2.5 hours of use. <---This is of course my guess and I could be wrong, but it seems reasonable.

    If you're considering the Chromebook simply based on the price point, then I would recommend finding a refurbished/used MacBook/MBP/MBA and going that route. Every single one of those machines is going to have a better processor, more storage, better display, great I/O connectivity, and comparable battery life.


    This is crazy. Hey, OP, if you do have the money just to throw around and try it out, then just send me $150(assuming that's the most you would get for a used Chromebook....ok; $100) and then go buy a MBA/MB/MBP.
  9. mslide macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2007
    You said "almost" so it looks like a chromebook isn't for you. You have to ask yourself, are you honestly ok with having a "computer" that's just a glorified web browser and nothing else.

    Wow, what stupid advice. You don't get ahead in life by throwing money away on chances that whatever you're buying will work out.
  10. GTJ macrumors newbie

    Apr 23, 2005
    I Had my macbook air stolen 2 months ago and have moved country to travel since so couldn't afford to replace it as it wasn't covered with insurance.

    I picked up a second hand Samsung 550 chromebook for 120 and am blown away by the quality these little things provide. Great keyboard, trackpad and screen (on mine anyway)

    The os is just a browser but i've found that with the suite of 'apps' and extensions i can do most tasks. Can even download torrents now and the new Google + pictures uploading is great.

    Mine is atom cpu based and i get 8 hours off a charge which is actually better than my 2012 air.

    For the compromises (which there no doubt are) its offset by the weight, battery and most importantly price.

    I'd assume the series 3 for 250 is better than mine as its a year newer but for the price and a portable device its awesome. The reasons for a chromebook over a tablet - keyboard/trackpad are perfect on the Samsung chromebook.
  11. 0000757 macrumors 68040

    Dec 16, 2011
    16GB Flash Memory, yes.

    They use Flash memory in Chromebooks (Like they do in the Retina MBP, MBA, and Phones/Tablets).
  12. Kyles3399 macrumors newbie

    Jul 1, 2010
    check amazon open box

    Hi I was in the same boat, I really wanted a knock around laptop. I have a rMBP 15" which is absolutely the greatest laptop ever, but it never leaves the house (My Precious).
    Picked up the 3G samsung chromebook open box for $200. I absolutely love it and if it gets lost/stolen/broken who cares, I take it to coffee shops, work, friends houses.
    the keyboard is great, the overall performance is good, the screen is fine for a sub-300 laptop. the 3G is way cool and comes with 2 years free service (100MB/month), battery life is good, usually about 6 hours.

    Chrome is a very limited OS, basically if you can do it in a browser you can do it on Chrome OS. iWork is the cloud is usable thought laggy, but hey it works.

    It's also a very new platform and will be interesting to see where it goes.

    If your looking for a really good cheap 2nd laptop, and you understand what the limitations of a chrome book are. it's great, open-box made it a steal.
  13. Stooby Mcdoobie macrumors 6502a

    Stooby Mcdoobie

    Jun 26, 2012
    I haven't kept up with this project, but I know there was a team of developers working on an Ubuntu port for the Chromebooks at one point (search Crubuntu on Google). This would give you a fully functional OS that's not dependent on a connection to the internet - might be worth looking into if you're seriously considering a Chromebook.
  14. fortysomegeek macrumors regular

    Oct 9, 2012
    I am typing this on a Samsung Chromebook.
    I also have a 15" loaded Retina, 2012 13" Macbook Pro, and a Acer C7 Chromebook as well.

    I bought the chromebook for guest users. I leave them in the guestroom and living room. My five year old uses the Acer Chromebook.

    These are only good for secondary,spare machines. I tried to experiment with living in the cloud and can't do it. Everything takes me 3X longer to do. For example,I wanted to post some photos of my kid on Facebook tonight and it took me 2 minutes to just preview my images. I shoot RAW with a dSLR and have 14-20MB photos. It literally took 45 minutes to draw thumbnails and loading each photo to look took 1 to 2 minutes to load up from Google Drive.

    I give up on trying to do an productivity work on my chromebook. I only use to surf forums, amazon, craigslist,facebook, and ebay. Thats it.

    I had to take public transit last week (San Francisco bridge closure) and went in-n-out of tunnel with my verizon Mi-Fi. I couldn't do anything unless I had an internet signal. Everytime I went into a tunnel,I had to close the lid.

    You have to make a lot of sacrifices. For example, my kid can't watch any real videos on his Acer. Sure, I could copy the files to his Acer's 320GB drive but certain format only works with Chrome. So, I ended up building a Plex media server and he watches his videos via Chromebrowser and Flash using the Plex web-app. You can't mount network shares so everything has to be done in the browser. I can't complain because I bought the acer for $122 factory refurb. THat is cheap and disposable for a 5 year old.

    I installed CHrouton (Ubuntu ch-root) on my chromebook which took about 1.5 hours. I had it for months then one day when I booted, I forget to bypass the developer mode and it factory re-flashed it back;deleting my ubuntu. Even with Ubuntu, it was pretty slow.

    It isn't completely bad. I do use my Samsung around the house if I don't feel like using my macbook or heading to my home office. It does run rather cool on the lap vs a Macbook.
  15. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    If it can't run a normal desktop OS, don't buy it. Mobile OS-es are fun for a while, but after 2-3 years you get really bugged by them.
  16. Gonzo3333 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    My Sister bought a Chrome Book around Christmas time last year. For the most part she is happy with it. I fooled around with it for an hour or so and was not very impressed with it. I am not sure about the actual specs of the machine, but I would not be able to survive on one alone. I NEED internal storage and better than average processing power.

    I get where Google is trying to go with these things but I could never be satisfied with where they are now.

    I just started going back to school again, and do not see the current line of Chrome Books providing a useful solution for school. You would be better off buying some cheap Best Buy Toshiba and a GeekSquad warranty than a Chrome Book.

    That's just my $.02
  17. Tfb macrumors member

    Jul 9, 2012
    I am in love with the idea of Chromebooks but here are the reasons I can't get one yet:

    1. Can't use Microsoft Office offline. I'm online most of the time but not all the time, but Word Processing (and spreadsheets) is one of the main useful things I use my computer for. I do need the functionality of Word, things like footnotes, table of contents, etc. On top of that, the Office 365 subscription ends up much more expensive than buying Office

    2. Can't play Civilization. That's my main fun use of my computer (besides web browsing) and as frivolous as it may seem I'm not ready to give it up yet.

    Nevertheless, they're very tempting, and if I didn't have these two caveats, I would jump on it...

    Instead I am spending a lot of money on a new MBA.
  18. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040


    Oct 12, 2005
    My thoughts as well, if you have an iPad then a Chromebook becomes redundant. It's not that they are intrinsically bad but are very limiting in kind of the same way an iPad is for "real work".

    For basic emails, calendar, google docs, it's a great little machine for anything else then there are better options out there.

    Last place I worked part of an "inanely derp" corporate strategy we where given Samsung Chromebooks, long story short one month after purchase they ended up as expensive coffee coasters.
  19. nilk, Sep 27, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2013

    nilk macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2007
    I love my Samsung ARM ChromeBook, and I bought it used for about $170 (from Amazon Warehouse). But it's supplemental to my Macs and it's not a device for everyone. I'm a UNIX geek and can accomplish a lot with just a web browser and being able to SSH into other machines. I've also installed Ubuntu on it via Crouton (installed on an SD card), though I only use that a small fraction of the time.

    If money was no object, I would've bought an 11" MacBook Air. But the cost:utility ratio is very high for me, and the fact that I don't stress about it getting stolen or damaged is nice. I use my Chromebook when I'm around my 11-month old son and don't stress about him destroying it (he's gotten a hold of it a few times despite me usually trying to keep it out of reach). I don't use a MacBook anywhere near him :)

    Chrome OS is actually surprisingly nice for what it is. But I couldn't get by on just a ChromeBook, even with Ubuntu installed. I'm pretty attached to using Final Cut, Aperture, Ableton Live, iTunes.

    The screen is garbage with horrible viewing angles, and I hated it at first, but I got used to it in a week, and it doesn't bother me at all now. The keyboard is great and I can actually type a little faster on it than on my MacBooks (at least on The fact that it's light-weight enables me to use it all kinds of scenarios where a larger laptop would be impractical; I often hold it with one hand like you would a tablet.

    A small perk that the MacBook Air doesn't have: this device has no fans (passively cooled), so you don't have to worry about blocking fan holes.
  20. Madmic23 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2004
    For $250, I'd like to try a Chromebook. I like the idea that if anything ever happens to it, you just log in to another Chromebook and all of your stuff is instantly there.
  21. MeUnix macrumors 6502

    Aug 21, 2013
    San Francisco
    Chromebook's are an intriguing computer to me. I fumbled around with purchasing one for awhile but I eventually gave in. I purchased an Acer C7 Chromebook (320GB HDD, 2GB RAM) off eBay for $160 refurbished. Overall, I liked the computer as a basic go-to for web browsing, checking email, YouTube, and tasks similar to that. After about a week or so, I found myself not using the Chromebook as often because I do my development work and school work on my MacBook, which I was already accustomed to using before I purchased the Chromebook.

    The Chromebook would be good for the tasks I mentioned, as well as a few others that other members have mentioned; I am, however, intrigued to see where the Google OS goes moving forward.

    For me, it doesn't have what I need to get any real work done so I ended up selling it for $140 about a month after I purchased it.
  22. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
  23. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
    They reviewer used a $1,400 Chromebook.... :eek:

    OP - get a machine with a full OS...
  24. sonicrobby macrumors 68020


    Apr 24, 2013
    New Orleans
    I dont know much about chromebooks nor chrome OS, but I think what it is all cloud connected and stored. If this is true, you might only get full use of the OS on wifi. If not on wifi, Im not sure what you can actually use.

Share This Page