Often when I write about Chromebooks, somebody chimes in with a comment about how they’re not “real” laptops, and people would be better off buying a Windows machine. When I write about a Chromebook that costs more than $400, someone will inevitably complain that it’s too much money to spend on a laptop with a crippled OS.

But the thing about Chrome OS is that it’s an operating system much like any other. As About Chromebooks points out in a recent op-ed on the topic, Google emphasizes speed, simplicity, and security. Chrome OS runs reasonably well on entry-level hardware, but like most operating systems, it runs even better on devices with faster processors or more RAM. And things like high-quality displays, keyboards, and touchpads cost money.

Google Chromebooks

Not everyone wants to use an operating system designed around a web browser. But these days many Windows and Mac users spend most of their time in a web browser anyway, and Chromebooks can also run Android and Linux applications.

So while Chromebooks may not be the best option for everyone, asking why there are expensive models is kind of like asking why there are expensive Windows laptops. Of course, I’m sure there are folks who are asking that question, especially when we see new models with price tags north of $3,500.

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  1. You can add Neverware ChromeReady for free to a Windows OS device. I have a thumbdrive that I added to a cheap Larkbox that was mentioned here.

    So arguably, you can get both if you buy the Windows laptop, but I don’t know if you can go the other way and easily (and for free) install Windows if you buy a Chromebook.

    That said, I looked into a Chromebook for my kids. At the right price, a small, easy-to-use machine is a perfect fit for them.

    1. You can, if it’s an x86 chromebook and someone has figured out how to port a more conventional UEFI to it.
      Basically if it’s not on the list don’t even try it.
      I wouldn’t be surprised if you then took that and installed cloudready, it’d still run worse, even assuming there were drivers for everything.
      And remember, if you buy a laptop with locked down firmware, that only encourages them to make laptops with locked down firmware.

  2. I think the angst many have with today’s Chromebook ASP inflation is a holdover from the early days of Chrome OS when it was so heavily promoted as a path to escaping Microsoft’s evil confiscatory and resource-intensive ‘Windows tax’… minimal hardware requirements would enable simpler low-cost laptops with snappier performance.
    Fast-forward a decade and lo… we find the ASP of Chromebooks steadily inching up towards the ASP of Windows laptops. So it seems the ‘Windows tax’ isn’t really as confiscatory as we were led to believe and that if you REALLY want snappy Chrome OS performance better than the late lamented netbooks of yore, it requires much the same hardware as ‘resource-intensive’ Windows laptops.

  3. writing this from my Acer Chromebook 13 2018, with its ips 13.3 3:2 display 8gb of ram and unfortunately only 32gb… it very close to being my perfect device!
    It run linux and android apps without any issues which gives pretty much anything that I need.
    Market price was 650 but i got cheap from ebay last year… after having used it I have to say that I wouldn’t have any issue to pay that much for a more up to date version of this (Flex5 looks interesting).

  4. I like Chromebooks. I have 2 of them and I use one for my daily driver. I’m looking to upgrade my 13.3 inch Chromebook because it only has 16gb of RAM and I need more storage to run Linux Beta. My other Chromebook has 32gb of storage, but the screen is only 11.6 inches. I’ve decided on the Lenovo Flex 5. Amazon has a 13.3 inch model for under $500 with a Core i3 processor, 8gb of DDR4 RAM and 128gb of NVMe storage. $500 is a very reasonable price to pay for ANY laptop with these specs. Other manufactures like HP or Dell would call it premium, flagship, ultrabook or some other marketing term to increase the price 50% or more. Thank you Lenovo for producing an affordable Chromebook with decent specs.