Welcome back, laptop! Despite reports that people use tablets more than laptops for everyday needs, this week, Samsung announced a new line of Chromebook computers that use Google's Chrome operating system and start at the bargain-basement price of $249.
Pushing users toward the cloud, Chromebooks are light on hardware. Similar in size (11-inch HD display, under three pounds, and ultra thin) and appearance (silver exterior, black chiclet keyboard, and touchpad mouse) to the MacBook Air, the Chromebook, however, relies on Google cloud products like Gmail, Drive, Google+ Hangouts, etc., rather than the desktop-based storage and software of typical laptops.
But if you opt for the $329 Samsung Chromebook 3G and download these five key Chrome apps (remember, your Google account is already linked to Drive's word processing and spreadsheets), Chromebook will have you working like a pro and finding your pricier software-based laptop a distant memory.
- PicMonkey — Free photo editing that gets results comparable to costly photo software? Yes, please! Do the basics like crop and rotate or get creative with effects — we're making lots of vampires with the Halloween filters.
Keep reading for more must-have Chromebook apps.
- Stupeflix Video Maker — Use the Chromebook's SD card slot to upload photos and video, or choose pictures from Facebook. Making and exporting free videos on the service are limited to one minute, but subscription plans are available if you want to flex your filmmaking skills more often.
- Webcam Toy — Admit it, your MacBook Air's onboard camera gets the most use mugging with friends in Photo Booth. Snap pictures even when offline with over 70 camera effects and filters, then upload them directly to Facebook or Twitter.
- Netflix — The new Chromebook has an HDMI port, making the laptop, this Netflix app, and your living room work in perfect harmony when you want to watch movies on a bigger screen.
- Sticky Notes — Like Apple's Notes, jot down reminders or ideas in Chrome Sticky Notes. This app auto saves with every letter typed and can be organized with hashtags in the text for easy searches later.
Would you make the switch from a traditional laptop to a cloud-based Chromebook?