I'm giving up on Chromebooks and switching to a Surface instead

HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook review
Gadget Weekly

Inspector Lloyd

(Image credit: Android Central)

Join Namerah Saud Fatmi as she explores the cool, quirky, and sometimes downright odd world of smartphone accessories, gadgets, and other nerdy toys every week.

In the words of our very own Andrew Myrick, Chromebooks are simple, versatile laptops that can be excellent tools for students and professionals alike. These handy laptop/tablet 2-in-1s are designed to meet most of your needs on the go, like a lite portable workstation. But they're not ideal for everyone, something that I've been coming to terms with over my time with one.

Since I travel a lot, it only made sense to get one of these sleek things myself. My everyday machine is an HP Victus 16, which is a chunky gal. It is an absolute nightmare to have to take it out of my hand carry every time I'm crossing airport security, which sometimes happens multiple times on a single journey if I have connecting flights.

I wasn't expecting smooth sailing because we've all heard that ChromeOS has its quirks. However, some people swear by Chromebooks and how capable these budget devices really are. After using a Chromebook on and off for more than a year now, I am forced to admit that it's not all rainbows and sunshine. It fails to meet my needs, and I've come to the point where I'm just going to get a Microsoft Surface instead.

Acer Chromebook Spin 714

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

ChromeOS has so much potential. It could morph into the perfect love child of Android and Windows someday. But for now, I personally feel like that day is very far off. Students might make do with a Chromebook, but working professionals are going to struggle immensely when working off of one for more than a day or two.

To be honest, my work as a writer and editor doesn't require much. But I was amazed at how annoying it was to do the simplest tasks that take me a few seconds on my Windows laptop. The ordinary task of resizing an image to a specific size or sharing files to and from a ChromeOS tablet is unnecessarily frustrating. Who would have thought that I would struggle with something as simple as editing or using the find function on slides?

Sure, there are a lot of workarounds that gap the bridge between what can and cannot be done on ChromeOS, but honestly, who's got the time for that when you're working away from home and simply don't have the time or resources at hand to put up with fixes?

I'd rather put up with annoying security checks than feel handicapped while working abroad.

Another problem with Chromebooks is that not all accessories play nice with them. Keyboards and mice need to be prepped to work with ChromeOS. So despite having an amazing Logitech mouse, universal Android styli, and a bunch of cool mechanical Bluetooth keyboards, I was forced to purchase new companion accessories for my Chromebook. This irked me even more.

Yes, traveling with something as lightweight as a Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 or Acer Chromebook Spin 714 has its conveniences. But needing to rely on a bunch of add-ons, which also need to be packed and taken along, cancels out the perks of portability. I'd rather put up with annoying security checks than feel handicapped while working abroad.

Microsoft Surface Go 3

(Image credit: Microsoft)

I don't know if I'm old-school, lazy, stupid, or a creature of habit because I'd just rather buy a Windows 2-in-1 for my on-the-go work needs. This ties into why I have my eyes set on a Surface laptop — the Microsoft Surface Go 3, to be exact.

You might ask, why the Surface Go 3 specifically? See, it's the perfect substitute for a Chromebook (or maybe it's the other way around). All I need is a powerful enough tablet PC with all the apps I need for work, an ecosystem of decent companion accessories that I don't need to hunt down myself, and an easy-to-use OS that I'm familiar with.

The Go 3 checks all the boxes for me, and it's pretty cost-effective, too, even if I compare it with ChromeOS machines. You can buy a keyboard, stylus, and mouse for the device if you want to use it as a laptop. The 2-in-1 can be used as a tablet, too, and because it runs Windows 11, you can use it like any other computer. On top of that, it supports memory cards for expandable storage.

It's a battle of convenience, and Microsoft has won in my eyes. A Surface simply feels more complete than a Chromebook. Of course, when it comes to Windows tablet PCs, there are a ton of other excellent competitors available that deliver value for money and all of the above.

Just because Windows 2-in-1s work for me and Chromebooks don't, it doesn't mean that they won't be good enough for you, though. I urge you to try using a Chromebook for a couple of months to find out whether this breed of computer is compatible with your lifestyle and needs.

Namerah Saud Fatmi
Editor — Accessories, speakers, and tablets

Namerah enjoys geeking out over accessories, gadgets, and all sorts of smart tech. She spends her time guzzling coffee, writing, casual gaming, and cuddling with her furry best friends. Find her on Twitter @NamerahS.

  • Scott Bassett
    Everyone has their own particular set of needs. I am very much dependent on MS Office apps. Fortunately, ChromeOS now works so well with MS Office web apps and integrates so well with my OneDrive cloud storage that my Lenovo Chromebook Plus functions as well as a Windows laptop for me - and it is cheaper, faster, and more secure. Maybe I've been lucky, but all of my Windows laptop accessories work fine with my Chromebook. No rebuying of anything.
  • Dooki
    Chromebooks work great until you need to DO something.
  • Village_Idiot
    My daughter got a Chromebook from school. She was less than impressed. She would rather do her work on her Surface Laptop Go. Eventually, her school required all of the students to return the Chromebooks. She doesn't have to worry about carrying around that Chromebook anymore and she can still get her work done on her laptop.
  • Laura Knotek
    I have no use for Windows other than for PC gaming. Everything else works on Android devices, so I don't need Chromebooks or laptop PCs.
  • booch221
    I can do everything I need with my Chromebook. What is it that you CAN'T do?
  • booch221
    I ditched Widows in 2017 and have been using a Chromebook exclusively ever since. I will never go back. Chrome OS is a lot more capable now days, but even in 2017 I never had a problem using a Logitech keyboard and mouse (or a Microsoft keyboard or mouse) with it. Just plug them in and away we go.

    I don't have any problem sharing files between my tablet and laptop. Just open Google Drive or Google Photos and everything is synced.

    I've traveled to Europe a couple of times and never needed to take any add-ons except the 220 volt wall plug adapters. I use Google Workspace instead of Microsoft Office so I can't comment on Chrome OS works with Microsoft 365.