Why Are Chromebooks So Bad, Cheap, & Slow? What’s the Upside?

When people ask us questions about Chromebooks, they often have a derogatory tone. Rarely does anyone ask whether a Chromebook is a good value, or whether it outperforms other laptops.

Instead, people ask why Chromebooks are so bad, so cheap, and so slow. In fact, you may even be wondering whether there are any good points to Chromebooks.

Well, it’s a common belief that Google’s Chromebooks are not as powerful as a standard Windows or MacOS laptop. And to some extent, that isn’t untrue.

Since ChromeOS is cloud-based and largely browser-only, it’s not entirely without its flaws. But let’s be reasonable and separate the facts from fiction.

Chromebooks fill a niche that was not previously filled. For what they’re intended to do, they’re perfect.

Let’s debunk some myths about Chromebooks and make some much-needed concessions as well.

Here are seven myths about the Chromebook that aren’t true and a few things that we’d like to see improved in the future! 

Myth 1: Chromebooks Are Entirely Browser Only; They Can’t Run Applications of Any Kind. 

The original vision of the Chromebook was a cloud and browser-based operating system that allowed users to perform all the functions of a regular laptop but without the need for storage since the PC’s files were all stored on the cloud. 

Hear that? All the functions of a regular laptop. That means that anything the browser cannot satisfy is intended to be made up using applications.

Newer generations of Chromebooks are fully integrated with the Android operating system to allow them to use Android apps. Not only that, Chromebooks can run the widest variety of apps you can get without dual-booting. 

Chromebooks can run Android, Linux, and Windows apps. They can even run the apps concurrently without rebooting. 

Myth 2: Android Apps Run Poorly on ChromeOS 

Like most people, I was pretty skeptical about introducing Android apps to the ChromeOS shell. There just seemed to be way too many moving parts and integrations for the apps to run well.

But modern Chromebooks handle the apps just as well as a native Android tablet, in my experience. Even the budget Lenovo Chromebook C330 2-in-1 Convertible Laptop runs Android apps like a dream. 

Myth 3: Chromebooks Can’t Run Windows Applications 

Windows applications are usable with Chromebooks for people who can purchase a license for the CrossOver application. This allows the Chromebook to run Windows apps, and has a free 14-day trial that you can use to test out the apps you want to run. 

It’s worth noting that the experience on your Chromebook won’t be 1:1 with Windows. Different aspects of the application will display and interact differently on your Chromebook than with Windows because they’re running in a compatibility mode. 

However, CodeWeavers is working tirelessly to improve the integration of popular apps with the CrossOver platform. Ultimately, using CrossOver allows your Chromebook to run Windows applications with ease for the most part and gives you ample access to the Windows library of applications. 

Myth 4: Chromebooks Can’t Integrate with Linux 

Chromebooks don’t have the same fantastic integration with Linux that they have with Windows via CrossOver… they have something better.

Google is currently developing a fully-integrated Linux virtual machine intended to run on all modern Chromebooks. Shortly, we should see all new Chromebook models launching with full support for an integrated Linux virtual machine.

This means the only integration that Chromebooks do not have is with macOS/iOS. Fortunately, most MacOS and iOS applications have either a Windows or Android application that you can use with your Chromebook. 

Myth 5: Chromebooks Are Slow 

Of course, different machines will have different clock speeds, even between two devices running the same operating system.

However, some people seem to believe that Chromebooks are just universally slow. 

The biggest downside you’ll likely experience with a Chromebook is that the applications you run in compatibility modes like CrossOver might look or act differently than you expect. You may experience a slowdown when running heavier applications that require more computing resources than the Chromebook has available. 

For instance, if you’re trying to run games on your Chromebook in CrossOver, you’ll probably experience a significant slowdown. People looking to run computing-intensive applications from Windows, macOS, or Linux should invest in a computer that natively runs those operating systems. 

However, there’s no reason that Chromebooks should run significantly slower than any other market laptop with similar specifications when doing similar tasks. While they may not be powerful enough to play Crysis at max settings, the same is true for most laptops of the same grade. 

Google is currently working with top-of-the-line Intel and AMD APUs that allow the Chromebook to perform relatively high-intensity tasks without lagging.

Myth 6: Chromebooks Can’t Be Used for Software Development 

In recent years, Google has been marketing ChromeOS to software developers — with full integration of Android apps, the Linux virtual machine integration on the horizon, and tools for compatibility with Windows.

ChromeOS is a frontrunner in software development since it can natively test applications for Windows, Linux, and Android. 

This compatibility has been in the peripheral vision of software development bigwigs for a while. Since the integrations of Windows and Linux are incomplete and lack functional developments, companies haven’t made the shift yet.  

But suppose the Linux integration is as smooth and clean as Google hopes. In that case, we should see a slow but steady shift in the software engineering sector as the portability and price of the Chromebook series will be a compelling offer for companies that want to try it out.

The ability to natively install and test Android and Linux apps with compatibility with Windows apps makes the Chromebook a powerhouse testing machine for software developers. 

Myth 7: Chromebooks Can’t Be Used Offline 

This is just abjectly false. Google Docs and Gmail both offer offline modes and many other cloud services, including OneDrive and DropBox.

Even without the offline cloud modes, it’s not like the Chromebook is entirely without offline support. 

There is offline integration and storage that you can use if you want to, and you can use offline apps like the Microsoft Word Android app if you need an utterly offline word processor. However, there’s no need to dip into your minuscule internal storage with offline syncing if you don’t have to! 

Additionally, Chromebooks can be modified to have a larger storage capacity if you want to. You can also use external memory to bolster the system’s ability for storage further. 

Are Chromebooks Limiting? 

One thing that a traditional Windows laptop has over the Chromebook experience is versatility. While there’s no native support for Android apps like ChromeOS, applications like BigNox and Bluestacks will run a complete Android shell on your Windows machine.  

More powerful machines can also support dual-booting—installing more than one operating system to your device and alternating between more than one boot drive, allowing for greater flexibility when using different applications. 

Chromebooks don’t have enough storage space to natively dual boot effectively. While the ChromeOS operating system is very lightweight and used in a low-storage environment, Windows and macOS—even Linux—aren’t made for this purpose and require more storage space and RAM to run effectively. 

Windows 10, for instance, requires at least 8 GB of free storage space, about half the storage that is natively available on most Chromebooks. The lack of native Windows support—and Microsoft almost certainly will never partner with Google to make that support available—is one of the major limiting factors for ChromeOS.

Even if the Linux integration with ChromeOS is flawless, they’ll still have to overcome the lack of Windows application support. Many companies will need help with various Windows applications for their workers, and software developers will need to be able to test Windows applications in their native functionality. 

Overall, the most significant negative factor for ChromeOS is its lack of native Windows support. This will likely remain the most critical limiting factor for ChromeOS going forward.

Suppose the Linux integration goes as well as Google hopes. In that case, we may see a reluctant partnership from Microsoft since they’d be competing with CodeWeavers and losing money by not integrating with ChromeOS. 

That’s a big IF, though… so don’t hold your breath just yet, Chromebook fanatics. Once the final Linux shell integration hits Chromebooks en masse, we’ll see whether or not the system warrants a partnership with Microsoft. 

Final Thoughts  

Chromebooks are new to the computing scene, so it’s only natural that they’re still ironing out the kinks in their operating system.

Chromebooks are an excellent option for people who need a lightweight computer and generally work in a cloud. With everything on the horizon for Chromebook developments, you should keep your eye on this tech for updates that might change your view entirely.