The most important thing to check before buying a Chromebook

The most important thing to check before buying a Chromebook

When it comes to upgrades, Chrome OS and Android couldn’t be more different.

Since Chrome OS can’t be customized by device-makers in the way that Android can, y’see, Google’s able to control Chromebook updates completely on its own — and that means pipin’ hot software can roll out to all current devices within days of its release, regardless of who made each laptop or where it was purchased. (And, uh, yeah: Suffice it to say, the same can’t exactly be said for Android.)

That’s a valuable assurance to have, especially when you’re spending hundreds of dollars on a computer you’d ideally like to use for a while. But as with many things in life, Chromebooks do have built-in expiration dates — points at which they’ll no longer receive operating system updates and thus won’t be advisable to use. And no matter what kind of deal you think you’re getting on a Chromebook, the ultimate price you’re paying is really all relative to that one variable and how long it allows the laptop to remain viable.

We’ve talked about how on Android, in order to figure out a phone’s true value, you have to think about the amount of time the device will receive OS and security updates and then do a little math to calculate its annual cost of ownership for advisable use — since once a phone is no longer receiving said updates, it’s no longer advisable to use for anyone who prioritizes an optimal level of privacy, security, and performance. And you, as the intelligent, fresh-smelling, forward-facing mammal that you are, clearly know the importance of those factors.

Well, guess what? The same exact principle applies to Chromebooks — maybe even more so, given how often software updates arrive on the Chrome OS front (every two to three weeks for minor fixes and every six weeks for more significant revisions — whew!). And just like with Android, it’s up to you to perform those calculations, think about a device’s lifespan, and determine whether it’s actually a smart purchase before you plunk down your hard-earned shekels.

The good news: None of that’s difficult to do. Not even remotely. The main problem is just that the companies making Chromebooks don’t want you to think about this sort of stuff — for reasons that aren’t hard to figure out — and consequently, they don’t make any of this information (or even just the idea that there’s a need for any of this information to exist in the first place) easily discoverable. That’s why the vast majority of Chromebook shoppers are woefully ignorant in this area.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.


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