A Brief History of Tablets:
For as long as the tech industry can remember tablets have struggled to find their place in the market. Sure, iPads have taken off, but there was a time where Android and Windows tablets were everywhere. There were high-end tablets such as the Pixel C and Surface Pro to less expensive tablets such as the Nexus 7 line and whatever Toshiba and Acer could pump out. Regardless, in the early 2010’s tablets were everywhere, now though, they seem to have disappeared.
Not to say they’re all gone. We still have Amazon’s fire line, Lenovo’s offerings, the Surface line is still alive and well, and should we not forget, the almighty iPad. Recently though we haven’t seen a tablet for the everyday person. They seem to be stuck in limbo where they’re either larger smartphones or meant for the traveling business person. There is no middle road for the person who wants to get work done, but enjoy a youtube video on the go. Mobile operating systems don’t offer as much productivity and full operating systems that are power hungry and require beefy processors. I think Chrome OS can break that weird in-between though.
Hear me out on this one. Chrome OS has some awesome perks. In the next few paragraphs, I will outline each of these perks and why I feel, it can bridge the gap between tablet and laptop. Mind you though, this only equates for the operating system. How manufacturers create a device that can make use of these perks may be covered in another article.
Perk 1: The ability to use ARM and x86 SOCs:
ARM and x86 have their own set of pluses and minuses. Using ARM has the amazing perk of having great longevity while still giving decent single and multicore performance. This is usually enough to get basic tasks done such as browsing the web or using applications made for Android. X86 processors are traditional workhorses. They provide a lot of horsepowers while being weaker on the battery front, but stronger on the single and multicore performance side. Great if you’ll have a lot of tabs open, processor-heavy productivity, or just want your programs to open more quickly.
The awesome thing about Chrome OS is that it works fantastically with both. Android apps run really well on ARM based devices. The Chrome browser and other web apps really take advantage of what x86 has to offer as well. This gives consumers a lot of choice as to what they want out of their devices.
Perk 2: You do not need bleeding-edge specs:
Chrome OS runs fairly well on most hardware. I am currently writing on a device with a Mediatek M8173c processor (4 cores 2 A73 running at 2.1ghz and 2 A53 cores running at 1.6ghz) and 4gb of ram. This is probably one of the lowest end configurations you will find on a Chromebook and I am very pleased with how it runs. Sure it has to reload tabs on occasion, but it is perfectly acceptable for day to day computing. It runs Android applications well and still only takes seconds to boot.
Perk 3: Updates:
If you get an Android device you will be lucky if you get updates for 3 years, iOS devices are a little better at 5 years. Chrome OS devices now get updates for 6.5 to 8 years! That is absolutely incredible! This ensures you will get both features and security patches straight from Google for, pretty much the longevity of the device.
Windows devices though, have the bonus that they get updates, pretty much indefinitely. The main issue with Windows laptops is you need to wait for the manufacturer of the computer to send driver updates in case aspects of the hardware are not working. These updates could just stop whenever the device manufacturer decides it wants to. On the other hand, Google handles are driver updates on Chromebooks (from what I understand) and for better or for worse, at least you will be getting updates if anything breaks on an OS-level straight from Google.
Perk 4: OS Versatility:
Chrome OS is incredibly versatile. You can multitask with relative ease, run Android-based applications, and get great battery life all at the same time. The only aspect you cannot do that you may want a traditional Windows device for is run legacy applications. Other than that though, you can get so much done, may it be for leisure or work is done, most people can get it done on a Chromebook.
Chrome OS can do a lot, and manufacturers have a lot of options. Manufacturers also have a reliable OS that they don’t have to worry about the overhead for. This is also awesome for them because they don’t have to maintain the OS. Chrome OS can also work well on many sizes and form factors. Manufacturers such as Google and Lenovo have already begun trialing with different form factors. Some may work, others may not. Regardless, I think the key here is trying new things. They can also try different price points with different specs.
The consumers also win here, having a full Chrome web browser and access to Android applications is amazing. They also have a great desktop environment with assured updates for, pretty much the life of their device. They also get the flexibility of using a lot of different new form factors with Google pushing for tablets through their hardware partners.
I truly cannot wait to see where manufacturers go with Chrome OS. I truly feel there is a much larger market for this OS than education with the recent developments they are making. I also want to hear what your feelings are regarding Chrome OS.