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The laptop has enjoyed several incarnations since it was first embraced on a wide scale. Netbooks first appeared as an answer to the mobility provided by the iPhone and enjoyed, however briefly, massive popularity. One of the closest relatives to the netbook is the Chromebook. Developed initially by Google, the Chromebook is a small laptop optimized for use with the Internet. While it may seem "pidgeon-holed" by its Google designation, many other manufacturers have seen promise in the device, developing their own Chromebooks and generating massive interest for a laptop in the age of tablets.

How Chromebook works, what it does

To be designated a Chromebook, a laptop must be running Chrome OS, which is essentially a variation of the Chrome web browser that allows for work to be done offline. Supplemented by small, fast flash storage, the cloud does most of the work for these machines. By serving more as a portal to the Internet and as less of an operating system, Chromebook users avoid constant security updates, out-of-date hardware and the sluggishness that comes with an aging system - new versions of the browser are the only system maintenance that needs to be addressed. Without a hard drive, Chromebooks experience fast boot times and enjoy extended battery life when compared to traditional laptops. Proponents of these computers praise it for its streamlined capabilities and ease of use. This sort of technology is perfect for students, and Dell's first foray into Chromebook development was fueled by how it could be used in classrooms.

Other manufacturers

Google may have created it and coined its name off their own web browser, but other companies like Dell are also putting big money into the Chromebook game. Taiwanese company Acer has even developed a touchscreen unit, continuing to bridge the gap between laptops and tablets (Google has also created a touchscreen version of their Chromebook called the Pixel). Longtime computer giants HP and Samsung are some other of the notable names to also dip their toes into the market's waters.

Chromebooks Affordability

Chromebooks, like the netbooks that came before them, also receive admiration for their cost-effectiveness. With the notable exception of Google's new Pixel (over $1,000), most units are well under $300, making them great for productivity on a budget and ideal for students or as secondary machines to laptops that have more processing power. If all that is needed out of a laptop is some streaming, browsing, organizing and writing, and a tablet is not going to cut it, then a Chromebook may be a perfect solution.

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