If you’ve been eyeing a Chromebook or an iPad, chances are that you’re looking for a secondary device that can multitask. Maybe you need a second screen to stay extra productive at work, or you want a lighter device that’s easy to pack up when you travel, or you want something that’s inexpensive but fun for light browsing and app usage around the house. Or maybe it’s a mix of all three. Either a Chromebook or an iPad is up to any or all of those tasks, but for most people, one of those devices ends up being a better choice.
If you’re looking for a device for lightweight browsing and productivity — one that’s capable of performing the tasks you need without a lot of fuss or maintenance — here are all the reasons why you should go with one of Google’s Chromebooks instead of Apple’s iPad.
1. Chromebooks are more capable.
An iPad is fun when you’re downloading and using apps, but if you’re going to depend on your new device for any kind of web browsing, a Chromebook is a better choice. Using the Internet on a Chromebook is an experience akin to the browsing experience on any laptop, and just about any site that you navigate to will be usable. With the iPad, on the other hand, you’ll often run into issues when sites aren’t optimized for the tablet’s display. While you might think that the apps available make up for those issues, a Chromebook actually has an app store built in, too. All of the apps for a Chromebook are web-based, but especially when it comes to productivity apps, the same app is often easier to use with a keyboard and a trackpad than with the iPad’s touchscreen. (If you’re curious about what apps and services you might end up using with a Chromebook, take a look through Google’s app suggestions.) Additionally, if you have an Android phone or tablet already, a Chromebook is an easy choice, since the devices use your Google account to stay synced.
2. Chromebooks are also more shareable.
Additionally, a Chromebook is a better choice if you’re going to share your device with anyone else. When you set up a new iPad, your Apple ID is associated with it, and there’s no way to set up multiple accounts. Anyone who uses your iPad will have full access to your data and apps, and there are many situations in which that isn’t ideal. With a Chromebook, on the other hand, you sign in with a Google account each time you launch the device. You can sign out and your girlfriend or your nephew can sign in, and your data and settings will all remain separate.
3. For many tasks, a keyboard is a necessity.
There’s no getting around the fact that a Chromebook has a keyboard and an iPad doesn’t (unless you spend more money to get one). Even though your niece or nephew might love to play games on your iPad, no extra investment needed, there are many tasks, from sending emails to browsing the Internet, when having a keyboard is a major plus. If you plan to use your new device at work, being able to type up documents on it is a major plus, and you’ll quickly realize that that’s much easier accomplished on an actual computer than on a tablet. (Even typing in a URL to navigate to your favorite site can be a pain when you’re relying on a touchscreen keyboard instead of a physical keyboard and a mouse.) While you can easily find a Bluetooth keyboard or a third-party keyboard case for your iPad, it’s another piece to remember when you pack it up for your morning commute or a last-minute trip out of town. A device with a laptop form factor is simply easier to use and more easily portable than a tablet that needs an assortment of accessories to approximate the functionality of the laptop.
4. A Chromebook often costs less than an iPad.
Of the different versions of the iPad that Apple sells in the Apple store, the least-expensive option is the WiFi-only, 16GB iPad mini 2, at $269, and prices go up and up from there. Chromebooks, on the other hand, are offered in a more diverse and more budget-friendly lineup. You can get one of the lightweight computers for as low as $149 (look for the Haier Chromebook 11 or the Hisense Chromebook). While some special models can have a high price tag, most models won’t start at prices more than $300. Chromebooks often end up being less expensive to repair or replace than an iPad. The only drawback of a Chromebook’s lower price tag is that it generally has less resale value than an iPad, but as PC World’s Chris Hoffman noted last year, that also makes a Chromebook a less likely target for theft than a highly recognizable iPad.
5. Chromebooks are easier to maintain.
It can be a lot of fun to browse the App Store on your iPad, or download files to be stored locally. But sooner or later, it’s likely that you’re going to find yourself wanting to clean up your files or cull your selection of apps to maximize the device’s storage. With a Chromebook, almost nothing is stored locally, so you won’t have to dedicate the same amount of time toward maintaining a clean device. And while you’ll need to pay attention to updates not only for your iPad’s operating system, but for the apps you’ve chosen to install, as well, a Chromebook automatically checks for and installs updates each time you start it. If you don’t mind updating apps and cleaning up your Camera Roll, then this may not be a deal breaker. But if you want to think about maintenance as little as possible, a Chromebook is likely a better choice for you.
More from Gear & Style Cheat Sheet:
- iPad Pro: What We Know Right Now
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow: The Best Features It Offers
- The Big Problem With Smartwatches: Their Batteries