Home : Hardware Terms : Chromebook Definition


A Chromebook is a laptop that runs Google's Chrome OS operating system. While Google sells its own Chromebook model, the Chromebook Pixel, many other manufacturers offer Chromebooks as well. Examples include Dell, HP, Toshiba, Samsung, ASUS, and Acer.

Chromebooks are designed to be inexpensive and highly portable. They are considered thin clients since they have minimal internal storage. Unlike traditional laptops, Chromebooks are designed to run cloud-based applications and store data online. While the Chrome OS and some applications can run offline, Chromebooks work best when used with an Internet connection.

The Chrome OS includes several Google apps, such as the Chrome web browser, Gmail, Google+, and YouTube applications. It also runs the Google Drive office suite and related apps such as Google Docs, Google Drawings, and Google Forms. Third party applications can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store. Some Android apps can also run on Chrome OS via Google's App Runtime for Chrome (ARC).

Since Chromebooks do not run Windows or OS X, they do not natively support many traditional applications, such as Microsoft Office. However, you can run online versions of Word, Excel, and other common applications from the Chrome OS or through the Chrome web browser. These applications run on a remote server, but look and function like traditional desktop applications. Chromebooks also support remote access software, which allows you operate Windows or OS X computers from a Chromebook.

Updated: April 7, 2015

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