I’m often asked which computer I’d recommend. I don’t have a stock answer to this question – what I say depends on many things. How technologically savvy the asker is, for example, and what sort of tasks they want to do. If the asker only has basic requirements then I’ve usually recommended a low end Mac of some kind, perhaps second hand, depending on the budget. If a server is required then I’d recommend Linux for heavy lifting and OS X Server for small work groups. For serious, heavy duty, computing then there is very little (which is to say nothing) to beat a medium to high end Mac – I use a Mac Pro tower myself. For the seriously cash strapped then Raspberry Pi is hard to ignore, and it will be impossible to ignore once the Raspberry Pi Foundation manages to sort out a case for it.
Now, though, there’s a new OS that deserves very serious consideration for light computing duties. True it’s been out for a few years now, but I’d say it’s now definitely ready for Prime Time. What is it? Chrome OS.
Who Should Use It?
Anyone who only has light computing requirements. If you only need to browse the web, email, do a little word processing or spreadsheeting and play a game or two then Chrome OS is perfect.
Why Should They Use It?
It has an elegant UI and it’s very user friendly. Google has put some serious thought into Chrome OS, and it’s a doodle to use – even for someone who has never really used a computer before. It doesn’t even require any maintenance. Best of all, it doesn’t require any user accounts to be set up on the computer – a Chrome OS user either signs in their Google account, or signs in as a Guest.
What Are The Disadvantages?
Google doesn’t seem to be as confident of their OS as I am. Either that, or they’re too busy peddling Android (which just isn’t as nice as it’s competitors). This is a pity, because Chrome OS is definitely the finest OS of its kind. Given that it is also the only OS of its kind, this might seem like damning with faint praise – but it isn’t, I assure you. Chrome OS is genuinely a thing of beauty.
And this is the main problem – the only official means of getting a Chrome OS computer is a laptop like Samsung’s Chrome Book which is an over-priced, underspecced, KIRF knock off of the old black MacBook. Good luck finding one of those in Currys or Dixons. You could, of course, download the OS and then install it on your own computer – but if you aren’t very computer literate then that kind of defeats the main point of Chrome OS.
Other than that, the only real disadvantage is a paucity of available software that will run without an Internet connection. This isn’t a big deal though because the main bases are covered and as Chrome OS grows in popularity (and I hope that it will grow in popularity), good quality software is sure to follow.