ChromebookEditor: Andrew Martonik
A new class of computer that's 'made for everyone'
Chromebooks are an interesting class of device, as they follow a "traditional" laptop form factor but run Google's Chrome OS, an adapted version of the Chrome browser with extra utilities to make it usable as a full operating system. The range of Chromebooks available today, save for the Chromebook Pixel from Google, blanket the low-end laptop space. With prices ranging from $200 to $400, Chromebooks pretty handily undercut even the lowest end laptops running Windows. This isn't entirely surprising though, considering that Chrome OS requires far less in terms of hardware specs and there is no licensing fee for running Chrome OS.
Your average Chromebook runs on either an ARM or low-end Intel processor, has two to four gigabytes of RAM, as little as 16GB of storage and overall cheap hardware components. A variety of manufacturers make Chromebooks, including Lenovo, Samsung, Acer, ASUS and HP.
Google introduced the Chromebook line with a one-off prototype-style device, the CR-48, late in 2010 — but today's Chromebooks don't really bare much resemblance to the first iteration. Though the philosophy of a small, lightweight and generally low-power device sticks around, Chrome OS has come a long way in just four short years. The idea of having a Chromebook as a secondary computer has gained popularity, with Chromebooks driving huge sales in the low-priced laptop market. Chromebooks have also been a great solution for the education market, as they're easy to manage in bulk, are inexpensive and basically invulnerable to viruses and malware.
Following the rapid growth in Chromebook sales throughout 2013 and 2014, Google has also partnered with Chromebook OEM partners to build both "Chromebox" and "Chromebase" computers. Chromeboxes are what you'd traditionally think of as small form factor desktop computers, but are running Chrome OS. They have similar specs to that of Chromebooks and similar pricing, but are even more aggressively marketed towards education and business users. Chromebases, on the other hand, are all-in-one desktop computers with large screens, keyboards and mice. LG was the first manufacturer to release a Chromebase desktop.