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Everyday Cheapskate: Chromebook: inexpensive and awesome

You may recall a few months ago I wrote about the new inexpensive laptop computer series that is sweeping the tech world called Chromebooks. I’m still onboard in a big way.

These little laptops that run on Google’s Chrome OS are great budget-friendly computers that can meet the needs of many people, especially those who don’t need all of the bells and whistles that come standard on computers with much higher price tags. With the popularity of Chromebooks (

/chromebooks) spreading, multiple manufacturers are getting on board, such as Samsung, HP, Acer, Asus, Toshiba and Dell, with machines ranging in price from $199 for the minimal Acer C720 to $279 for the brilliant display of the HP11.

That pricing pretty much blows me away because I still remember paying $2,400 for our first fax machine. Ouch!

It’s only my opinion, but soon, Chromebooks will own the market share of sub $400 laptops. That’s because Chrome OS doesn’t take up a lot of resources, which means you get an auto updating and a fast-running machine for a decent price. These Chromebook laptops perform all the essentials — ranging from surfing the Internet, instant messaging, social media and checking email, to word processing and slideshow creation with Google docs, too.

While I’ve become a huge fan of my Chromebook, it is not for every computer need. I still keep my MacBook Pro working at full capacity for heavy image or video editing and running high-end software. If you are doing these tasks, a full-fledged laptop may suit you better.

When I tell my friends about the Chromebook, I describe it as a cross between a laptop and a tablet. It’s small enough to fit into my handbag, but powerful enough to handle all my needs when I’m traveling or otherwise away from my regular work routine.

I was introduced to these machines by our in-office tech wizard, Max, who noticed that the majority of my work was being done directly in my Internet browser (Google Chrome). Chromebooks are able to maintain their low price, but still remain high quality by focusing on what most people need in a laptop. These compact laptops don’t come filled up with junk that slows down the typical laptop computer.

If you’re worried because you’ve read that a Chromebook is not usable unless connected to the Internet, you can relax. That argument is no longer valid as many of Chromebook’s most useful extensions work offline. And in this day in age, how often are we on a computer not connected to the net?

If you’re starting to think about gifts for the other gift-giving season that starts with Valentine’s Day, make a note. A Chromebook just might be the perfect idea for yourself or a loved one — one you can start saving toward now.

Mary Hunt is founder of, a personal finance member website. You can email her at mary@everyday, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.


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