Chromebook FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

This area of the website is intended as a help and information hub dedicated to the Chrome OS operating system and Chromebooks in general. For example, fundamental questions about the differences between Chrome OS vs Windows 7 or OSX, as well as the differences and similarities between buying a Chromebook compared to a regular netbook/notebook/laptop will be found in the categories below.

Any question someone looking to buy a Chromebook might have should be answered below. As always, if you have a burning question that’s not listed here and can’t be found on the site, please contact us.

Note: For Chromebook buyer’s advice and detailed comparisons of specific models, please see Chromebook comparison.

Questions and Answers

What is CR48?

The unbranded CR48 was the first publically available prototype of the Chromebook, distributed to beta testers through its Chrome OS Pilot Program in December 2010. It was manufactured in a very limited quantity. “CR48″ refers to an isotope of chromium. Response to the CR48 test program was very positive overall.

The Chromebooks made by Samsung and Acer in 2011 do not stray too far from the understated, black Macbook-like design of the CR48.

Who can use the Chromebook rental program?

The rental option is only available for educational and enterprise customers who are renting a minimum of 10 machines. Education institutions can rent Chromebooks from Google for $20 per month (per computer), and business/corporate customers can rent for $23 a month.

Do Chromebooks require protection from viruses?

No, the Chromebook hardware and operating system is designed from the ground up to make malware and virus protection software unnecessary.

Do I need to worry about backing up my data?

No, because everything you use in Chrome OS (applications, documents, settings, etc.) is stored “in the cloud” on Google’s servers. You can, however, still create as many personal backups of your data as you want.

What kind of programs and games can I run on Chrome OS?

Software on Chrome OS comes in the form of a wide variety of “apps” that handle various needs, much like on an iPad, but with generally higher capability. At this time, you cannot run custom software such as, for example, photoshop, but there are very similar image editing apps available (such as Picnik, a powerful photo editor, and Pixlr Editor, a GIMP/Photoshop replacement for Chrome). In addition, there are apps that take care of audio-editing, video-editing, web-development, social networking, and office/productivity tasks.

The Chromebook is particularly well suited to playing casual games, including Flash games (which netbooks struggle with, and iPads are incapable of). There are currently over 1,700 games available for free. Example games include Angry Birds, the MMORPG Dead Frontier, simulation/tycoon games like Cityville and Burger Shop 2, and a wide variety of retro and arcade games such as Centipede, Super Mario Bros., and Tempest.

Who is the Chromebook designed for?

For people who already spend most of their time on the computer online and who want high mobility and a fast experience. If you already use GMail, the Chrome Browser, Google docs, etc., the Chromebook is designed to remove a lot of the esoteric system-related distractions and worries that come with a conventional operating system like Windows.

Most people only use their netbooks or laptops to browse the internet, listen to music, watch videos, and play casual games. For this majority, a complicated operating system is both unnecessary and bogs down hardware with unneeded things while on the go, leaving your computer experience feeling sluggish.

The streamlined, net-focused Chromebook’s compact size, cloud features, 8-second startup time, instant resume, and 8+ hour battery life is suited for travelling or using at wi-fi hotspots.

What if I need to run a specific program?

There are Chrome OS apps that take the place of all kinds of software, from word processing to audio and video editing to games, just like how there are equivalent programs made for Windows and Mac operating systems.

Only those people who need to run a specific company’s programs (such as if your business requires you to use a specific accounting program) may run into a problem. In the near future, however, it will be possible to run traditional software remotely on a Chromebook. There is an application called Receiver that will allow you to log into a server and run software, and Google is developing a free service called Chromoting that will enable Chrome notebook users to remotely access their existing PCs and Macs.

What companies make Chromebooks?

Currently, Acer and Samsung Electronics. As of April 2012, it has been reported that Sony is currently looking into producing a Sony Chromebook.

What is all this “cloud” stuff about?

For a very basic explanation of what cloud computing is, see our article about cloud computing.

What are the differences between the Samsung and Acer models?

Both models offer similar performance with some differences in battery life, screen size, and screen resolution. See our Samsung and Acer Chromebook model comparison chart.

Does the Chromebook have a built-in webcam?

Yes, both the Acer Chromebook and Samsung Chromebook models come with an HD 1MP webcam built into the bezel above the screen.

Do Chromebooks get hot or produce a lot of heat?

Chromebooks produce no more heat than a typical netbook. This is normal and nothing to worry about under normal circumstances. Of course, the common-sense precautions that are taken with other notebooks regarding the heat they produce should be taken with Chromebooks, ie: do not block areas where heat escapes, such as vents and fans. For extended lap use of any portable computer, a good-quality lapdesk or notebook cushion is highly recommended.

Where can i find a list of Chromebook hotkeys/shortcut keys?

We have a handy reference list of the shortcut keys for Chromebook users here: Chromebook Keyboard Shortcuts. (Examples of shortcuts include hotkeys for Page Up/Down, taking screenshots (Print screen), opening/switching tabs, windows, and files, and many other functions.)

Note: There is also a separate article that details the functions of the special keys that are unique to Chromebooks: Special Keys on the Chromebook Keyboard.

Where can I find the latest drivers and downloads for a Chromebook?

Most computers require manual downloading, uninstallation, and installation of updated drivers and other system components. Chromebooks automatically upgrade themselves, so there’s no need to find, download or install any drivers or updates. Because of this, you will also not see any system prompts telling you to update to the latest drivers as it is handled automatically.

Can I download torrents on a Chromebook / Chrome OS?

Yes, there are several ways to download torrents on Chrome OS. Transmission, Tiny Bittorrent, and uTorrent are some apps and extensions available for the Chrome browser. Besides these, there are also several web-based torrent clients that may work, though I have not tested them. By plugging an external USB drive into your Chromebook, you can download files to the external drive.

Can I use a wireless mouse (or keyboard) with a Chromebook?

Yes, most wireless USB mice and peripherals will work just the same on a Chromebook as they do on Windows, OS X, or Linux. See some of the compatible wireless mice and other peripherals and accessories we’ve reviewed in our Chromebook accessories section.

About the Author

Blogger. Chromebook Reviewer. Chrome-magnum. Then I say something.