You can find my past articles about Chromebooks if you start here: http://goo.gl/PNjGTK. My previous articles have also generated a lot of questions from readers. Perhaps the most common question is, "What can you do with it?" Now there is an easy method to see for yourself what a Chromebook will do without first purchasing one.
The Chrome App Launcher will let you run Chrome apps on a Windows or Macintosh computer. You can first experiment with Chrome apps on your own Windows or Macintosh system to see if these programs meet your needs or the needs of someone you know who might appreciate a Chromebook. The Chrome App Launcher looks and feels about 95% the same as a Chromebook. If a program will run in the Chrome App Launcher on your Windows or Macintosh system, it should also run properly in a Chromebook.
To use the Chrome App Launcher, you first need to open the Chrome web browser on your Windows or Macintosh computer. If you do not already have the Chrome web browser, you can download it at http://www.google.com/chrome. I would suggest you install Chrome on ALL computers as it is a much better browser than either Internet Explorer for Windows or Safari for Macintosh. Firefox is another excellent web browser but it will not run the Chrome App Launcher.
Once it is installed on your computer, open the Chrome web browser. I suggest you maximize the Chrome web browser to fill your computer's entire screen. Next, go to https://chrome.google.com/webstore/launcher. What you see next is essentially the same as what is seen on a Chromebook.
You will find thousands of Chrome programs available and most of them are available free of charge. You can browse through the available programs or search for applications of interest. For instance, to see all the available Chrome apps for genealogy, enter "genealogy" into the search box labeled, "Search the store" and then press ENTER. That will show you the available genealogy apps that run on Chromebook. Click on any of the apps to learn more about that app and to run it immediately.
Note: there aren't many genealogy apps available for Chromebooks. However, there are thousands of games, word processors, spreadsheet programs, online banking programs, business apps, photo editing programs, utilities, and other apps available, including multiple apps for Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.Again, if a program works in the Chrome App Launcher on a Windows or Macintosh computer, it will also run on a Chromebook computer.
The Chromebooks and the Chrome App Launcher will not run programs that were designed to run only on Windows or on a Macintosh. It will not run RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, AncestralQuest, The Master Genealogist, Family Tree Maker, Reunion, MacFamilyTree, and similar programs that are not designed with the cloud in mind. However, you can use the Chrombook web browser to access genealogy web sites, including those that run on The Next Generation, PhpGedView, MyHeritage.com, FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, FindMyPast, and dozens of other genealogy web sites that are designed to be run in a web browser.
I own one of the first Chromebook laptops ever built and use it often, especially when I am traveling. It is super easy to use, works well, and never gets viruses or other nasty malware. ("Malware" is an abbreviation for "malevolent software.") I think a Chromebook is an excellent computer for pre-teens and for anyone else who is not computer savvy. Most anyone can use a Chromebook effectively within minutes after opening the box.
However, I see two significant "downsides" of a Chromebook:
- A Chromebook must be connected to the Internet to use it effectively. Most applications are installed on web servers, not on the Chromebook's internal hard drive. To find and launch a program, you must be connected to the Internet. Most Chromebooks connect via wi-fi wireless networking connections. One (more expensive) Chromebook from Samsung will also connect via a cell phone company's 4G wireless network, providing coverage within several miles of a cell tower.
- For anyone who already owns a Windows or Macintosh computer and already knows how to use it effectively, the simplicity of a Chromebook won't be appealing. However, the low price might still be appealing for use as a second computer.
The Chrome App Launcher is available at https://chrome.google.com/webstore/launcher.
Again, you can find my past articles about Chromebooks if you start at http://goo.gl/PNjGTK.