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Getting started with your new Chromebook

Q: My husband was listening to your show a couple weeks ago and he heard you talk about getting a Chromebook for financial stuff exclusively, so we bought one. Now what do we do?? I tried to find the info on your website but couldn’t. Can you send me a link for further instructions on what to do next? -Johanna H., KWRO Southern Oregon coast

A: That’s a great question, Johanna. Chromebook is a streamlined laptop from Google that has all the functionality that most people need.

But, before I delve deeper into Chromebook’s security features, software programs, pricing and more, I’d like to address something you said about Komando.com. You said you couldn’t find information about Chromebook on my website.

A couple of things: I will send you a link for more information about Chromebook. Plus, if we have written about a topic like Chromebook, you can simply type in your search in the upper-right corner of Komando.com, where you see the little magnifying glass icon.

If we haven’t written about a topic you’re interested in, we’d love to hear from you. You can call my show, send me an email or post a note on one of my social media pages, such as Facebook.com/KimKomando.

Now, on to your question about getting started with Chromebook. The first thing to know is that, unlike Apple making Macs, there is not just one manufacturer that makes Chromebooks. There are several.

Chromebook laptops

Google created the Chromebook operating system. Then, manufacturers like Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo and Samsung make the laptops that run Chromebook OS.

So, you have a lot of options when buying one. Of course, when you’re paying $300 or so for a laptop, you’re not getting all the bells and whistles you will with a more costly laptop. But more on price in a minute.

Yet, you can do just about everything on a Chromebook that you would on a more expensive laptop. You’ll want to check each laptop’s specs, though, to compare one to another one.

Specs

Chromebooks are primarily web-based computers. However, you’ll want to make sure your Chromebook has at least 4 GB of RAM. Look for at least 16 GB of storage.

You’ll notice that Chromebooks typically have older microprocessors, like Intel’s dual-core Celeron. Those will suffice for most users.

Note: If you need a lot of functionality, or you’re running intensive games or graphics, you’ll want a more sophisticated (and pricier) Chromebook. Look for Intel’s newer processors, the iCore group of microprocessors.

You’ll want to make sure your Chromebook has USB ports and SD card readers. Plus, look for webcams, speakers, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other functionality that you use.

If battery life is important to you, check the manufacturer specs for that. Most people will need around 10 hours of battery life.

When it comes to the price for Chromebooks, you can comfortably stay in the $300-$500 range and get a reliable laptop with the specs you need. However, for a more bare-bones model, such as your child’s or grandchild’s first computer, look for models that cost about $200.

Fun fact: Did you know that almost half the laptops purchased by schools in 2016 were Chromebooks?

Software programs

Google designed Chromebook OS to be an internet-based system. The idea is that you’ll save your documents to the cloud and you’ll do your everyday work, like writing letters or reports, on web-based programs such as Google Docs or the FREE Microsoft Office Online.

You’ve probably heard that you cannot download programs like Microsoft Word. That’s true. However, you can use the web-based version of those programs.

You can also run Google programs that you’re probably already using, such as Gmail and its cloud-storage program, Google Drive. There are even more programs, such as Personal Finance, in the Chrome Web Store. Many of these apps are free.

Fun fact: Did you know that more people bought Chromebooks than Apple Macs in 2016?

Security

Google’s Chromebook is similar to Apple laptops in that you don’t have to worry too much about security. Of course, you have to ensure that your laptop isn’t attacked by malware or remotely taken over by a hacker.

However, Google has built into Chromebooks multiple layers of protection. Those include:

1. Automatic Updates: Chromebooks are always running the most updated version of the OS, so you don’t have to download patches

2. Sandboxing: Each webpage runs in a confined area, so if it’s dangerous it won’t affect other pages or programs

3. Verified Boot: Chromebook automatically checks for malware when you start it up, and it fixes any problems before it opens

4. Data Encryption: Most data on Chromebooks are saved to the cloud, but anything saved to the computer is encrypted so it’s nearly impossible to be hacked

5. One-Step Recovery Mode: If anything goes wrong, you can simply revert to an earlier version that was safe

6. Wi-Fi safety – Watch this video for tips

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