Blogging On A Chromebook: Everything You Need To Know

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Blogging on a Chromebook – not as crazy of an idea as you might think. When the platform debuted, some dismissed it as incapable of handling any serious work. With the rise in popularity of web based apps, however, and newer features of the OS, using a Chromebook as a blogger makes a good bit of sense.

Before we begin to examine this idea, let me address those reading this post who are only looking for a purchasing recommendation:

You can skip ahead in this post for details on these recommendations. For everyone else who want to know more about using a Chromebook for blogging, keep reading.

What Is A Chromebook Good For?

Honestly? More than you might imagine. Let’s start with the obvious answer – anything you can do in a web browser on any other computer, you can do on a Chromebook. What exactly does this entail though? Let’s have a look.

Productivity

Let’s start with productivity apps – you know: word processing, spreadsheets, presentations. The obvious options here are Google’s Apps – Docs, Sheets, Slides – that work with Google Drive. You may not know, though, that Microsoft Office has a web based version you can use for free that works just fine on your Chromebook. Either of these is a great option if you like to write your posts in a word processor before pasting them into your site.

Also, let’s not forget tasks like doing research online or email – both well suited to a Chromebook.

Additionally, I’d include any apps for writing code/text in this category – such as the Caret editor in the Chrome Web Store. This is my personal preference – because I’m a giant tech geek – for when I create my posts.

But none of this is surprising. Most people know you can do these tasks on a Chromebook.

Image Editing

What people don’t always know, though, is that you CAN create and edit graphics on a Chromebook. This is the one area where you’d expect you to have a problem as a blogger, however apps like Canva, Pixlr, Gravit Designer, and Gravit Klex are web based or come as Chrome extensions and are very functional for creating images for your blog. In fact a huge number of bloggers are already using these tools to create images for their sites – even on normal desktop PCs. I’ve even come across a blogger who uses Google Slides to create their images because it’s what they were most comfortable using. There’s even more options for editing images now for owners of many newer models of Chromebooks, as you’ll see in a moment.

Android App Compatibility

Many newer Chromebooks models have the ability to be able to run Android apps from the Google Play store – greatly expanding the usefulness of them with thousands of available apps. Apps like Snapseed or one of the many free Adobe Android apps, such as Photoshop Express or Illustrator Draw, could be extremely useful. Another would be using the Android version of Instagram instead of the limited desktop version of the site.

Literally every task a blogger needs to do – research, writing, creating images, social media, email – are ALL possible on a Chromebook.

Benefits of Blogging on a Chromebook

We’ve talked about what a Chromebook can do. Now let’s discuss the areas where using a Chromebook can be a major benefit to a blogger.

  • Security

    This topic is listed first for a reason. It’s literally the most important consideration to make when purchasing your computer.

    As a blogger, your computer is your means of doing business. Using a Chromebook means not worrying about Windows viruses – because you’re not running Windows. Knowing that your computer isn’t likely to become riddled with viruses or spyware gives you peace of mind that your computer is going to work and that your files are safe.

    Also, Chrome OS keeps two copies of the OS installed at all times. When a Chromebook updates itself, it updates the 2nd copy of the OS that isn’t currently running and then switches to that updated copy on your next boot.

    Furthermore, Chrome OS updates automatically in the background – meaning less down time and more time getting things done. If you’ve ever had Windows 10 update while you’re trying to work, you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.

  • Integration with Google Drive

    Did I mention that your files are safe? Storing your files on Google Drive instead of on your computer itself means that, even if you lose your Chromebook, you have access to your files and anyone who finds your computer doesn’t.

  • Battery Life & Power Efficiency

    I think the LOWEST battery life I’ve seen on recent Chromebooks is 9 hours. Seriously. 9 hours. Additionally, most Chromebooks are super power efficient – the processors use between 6W and 15W of power on average. The models I’ve recommended below, for example, can be run for 8 hours a day – every day – and cost less than $5 US per year to operate.

I haven’t even touched on things like quick bootup times, portability, or affordability. Furthermore, there are rumors floating around that sometime in 2018, Chrome OS will be adding the ability to run containerized desktop Linux applications on Chromebooks – expanding the available software capabilities beyond those available via web and Android apps. If this doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, consider that this could allow for running additional web browsers, like Firefox, or graphics apps like Inkscape or GIMP – two of my personal favorites.

Limitations of Blogging on a Chromebook

We’ve covered the benefits of blogging on a Chromebook. It’s only fair to discuss a few of the limitations as well – and how to overcome them. You’ll find that these issues, for many bloggers, are pretty minor.

  • (Insert Favorite Program Title) Is Not Available

    This is something that anyone considering their first Chromebook purchase needs to be FULLY aware of before buying so you’re not left upset about it after purchasing. You CANNOT run Windows software on a Chromebook, because you’re not running Windows. Unless you are absolutely married to creating/editing graphics in a specific program, this isn’t likely to be a big issue. As I mentioned above, many bloggers are already using web based applications to create their images.

  • You Need To Always Be Online

    For any apps based on the web – which Chromebook apps are – you would absolutely need to be online for it to work. There are a few exceptions to this – for example, Google’s Apps have the ability to run even when offline and then sync up when your Chromebook goes back online. Honestly though, how often, anymore, are we ever offline? As a blogger, you’re going to need a Wifi signal whether you’re on a Chromebook or other laptop. If you’re not at home, you’re likely somewhere like Starbucks or Panera Bread – parked on their Wifi for a few hours.

  • Screen Size

    If you’re used to using a larger monitor, you’re likely not going to be thrilled with using the smaller screen on some Chromebooks. Good news though – many Chromebooks are capable of hooking up to a monitor via HDMI or on some of the newest models via display port over USB type C. Don’t let the technical sounding talk scare you – it’s literally just knowing which type of port you need on a monitor and the corresponding cable that you need to connect with.

  • Small Keyboard (on 11″ Chromebooks)

    This isn’t much of a problem so much for people with smaller hands. If you’re like me though, my man-paws can feel a bit cramped when typing on some of the smaller 11″ Chromebooks. This is a really simple issue to overcome however and is pretty obvious. Attach a keyboard. In fact, do one better – get a wireless keyboard + mouse combo. I’ve been using a combo from Logitech* for a few years now and love it. It’s about $15 and was worth every penny. There are more expensive “better” keyboards & mice out there but these devices work well, get long battery life, and the freedom of being wireless can’t be beat. If you don’t want to carry a full-size keyboard around, there are smaller options available* that don’t have the numeric keypad that would work extemely well too.

Like I said, these are pretty minor issues, overall. They largely come down to matters of personal preference more than of ability.

A Few Words From Other Bloggers

Don’t take only MY word though about blogging on a Chromebook. I reached out to other bloggers who use Chromebooks in their business and asked them to share anything they thought would be helpful for others about blogging on a Chromebook. Here’s what they had to say.

Crystal from Mommy Is A Wino

As a blogging mom, my Chromebook lets me get work time in anywhere I am. I can take my child to a playground and not lose any productivity. When I get home, I can continue to work on my regular PC without needing to transfer files via a flash drive because they’re stored on Google’s cloud.

Bethany from strength.love.birth

If you want to blog on a Chromebook, get familiar with the innumerable extensions that can help make your blogging day go more smoothly. Trello, Pinterest, HubSpot, Evernote, OneTab, time trackers…there are a ton of extensions that can streamline your daily activities.

Katrina from Rule This Roost

Use as much free, digital storage like Google Drive as possible. Using paid online services like Canva takes away the need for an expensive computer that is needed for programs like Adobe. The cost of the Chromebook makes beginning blogging manageable.

Mrs. G from Belizean Brunette

I love my Chromebook. The screen is too tiny, though, so I hooked it up to a large monitor. Also be sure to get a Chromebook that has enough memory. My 2GB model often has problems because it runs out.

Karen from Karen’s Life Adventures

Some of the reasons I love my Chromebook: It is quick. My files get stored in the cloud so my work can be accessed from anywhere. Plus it doesn’t get viruses or go out of date, as it automatically updates to the latest version.

A big THANKS to all the bloggers who offered their thoughts. Please be sure to pay their sites a visit.

Which Chromebook To Choose?

Now that we’ve discussed how well suited Chromebooks are to blogging and ways to get around the few limitations you may encounter as a blogger, you’re likely wondering, “Ok … so what Chromebook should I buy?”

Evaluation Criteria

To answer that, let’s start with the criteria I used to make my recommendations.

  • Maximum Price – $350 US

    This price limit is intended to provide the best value to bloggers, who won’t necessarily gain any benefits from more expensive devices.

  • Best Possible CPU Performance

    I’ve included a chart below comparing common processors found in Chromebooks to help illustrate the relative performance of the recommended systems to others.

  • Minimum 4GB RAM

    Having less than 4GB RAM is going to cause issues if you want to have more than a handful of tabs open.

  • Minimum 10 Hours Battery Life

    … so you can work ALL DAY if needed without having to have a power outlet handy.

  • External Monitor Support

    Having the ability to plug in a monitor is great when working at home – anyone who’s used two monitors at once will tell you. This is especialy true if you have a smaller Chromebook.

  • Android App Support

    As I mentioned above, having support for Android apps is a huge boost for the capabilities of a Chromebook.

Recommended Models – Spring 2018

Using the criteria above, I selected Chromebooks in three different sizes – the “traditional” 11 inch size, the 13-14 inch sizes, and the “full sized” 15.6″ laptop size – as everyone has their own preferences and/or requirements for portability. Please note, this content is updated semi-regularly to reflect new products and updated prices.

First, let me say that I wasn’t looking to pick ONLY Acer devices to recommend. It happens that they offer more variation in the Chromebook space than the competition – especially when it comes to the processors used. A majority of the other Chromebook makers aren’t using the more powerful budget CPUs available – leaving Acer to steal the show.

Side-By-Side Comparison

Let’s take a look at the differences between these recommendations to help you decide which one might be the right fit for you.

  Acer Chromebook 15 Acer Chromebook 14 Acer Chromebook R 11
CPU Intel Pentium N4200 Intel Celeron N3160 Intel Celeron N3150
Memory 4GB 4GB 4GB
Storage 32GB SSD 32GB Flash 32GB SSD
Screen 15.6″ – 1920×1080 14″ – 1920×1080 11.6″ 1366×768
Battery 12 hours 12 hours 10 hours
Ports 2 x USB 3, 2 x USB 3.1 Type C 2 x USB 3, 1 x HDMI 1 x USB 3, 1 x USB 2, 1 x HDMI
Other Touch Screen
Display Port via USB Type C
  Touch Screen
SD Card Reader
Weight 4.30 lbs 3.42 lbs 2.76 lbs
Price $350 US $290 US $290 US
CPU
CB 15 Intel Pentium N4200
CB 14 Intel Celeron N3160
CB R 11 Intel Celeron N3150
Memory
CB 15 4GB
CB 14 4GB
CB R 11 4GB
Storage
CB 15 32GB SSD
CB 14 32GB Flash
CB R 11 32GB SSD
Screen
CB 15 15.6″ 1920×1080
CB 14 14″ 1920×1080
CB R 11 11.6″ 1366×768
Battery
CB 15 12 hours
CB 14 12 hours
CB R 11 10 hours
Ports
CB 15 2 x USB 3, 2 x USB 3.1 Type C
CB 14 2 x USB 3, 1 x HDMI
CB R 11 1 x USB 3, 1 x USB 2, 1 x HDMI
Other
CB 15 Touch Screen, Display Port via USB Type C
CB 14 N/A
CB R 11 Touch Screen, SD Card Reader
Weight
CB 15 4.30 lbs
CB 14 3.42 lbs
CB R 11 2.76 lbs
Price
CB 15 $350 US
CB 14 $290 US
CB R 11 $290 US

Please note: prices are approximate and may have changed since this post was published.

You’ll notice that in many ways, these devices are similar – they all have 32GB of on-board storage and 4GB of RAM memory. There’s a little variation in battery life, but they are all rated for 10 hours or more. Aside from obvious differences in screen size/features, the most important difference is the processor. Let’s take a look, then, at the CPUs you’ll find in Chromebooks priced below $350.

Chromebook CPU Comparison

If you’re looking at buying other Chomebook models than those I’ve recommended above, this chart will be super useful in helping you compare one device to another. The CPU models that are found in the recommended models are colored with a lighter shade of blue than the rest of the chart.

Blogging on a Chromebook - CPU Comparison

The N4200, N3160, and N3150 chips in the Chromebooks I recommend are some of the best performing in this price range. If you come across a Chromebook you like with a N2940, 3855U, or 3205U chip you won’t be disappointed in their performance either. Unless you are on a super tight budget, I’d avoid devices with the N2840, N3050, N3060 and N3350 chips.

To sum up,this information is the most important I can give you when you’re shopping for a Chromebook, as everything else is going to come down to personal preference – pay attention to the CPU used and be sure that there’s a minimum of 4GB of memory.

Closing

I’ve endeavored to keep this post as short as I could without skimping on information – 2500+ words surely doesn’t feel “short” by any means. If somehow, there’s something I’ve not covered fully or that you have questions on, I encourage you to bring it up in the comments below. Finally, If you found this post helpful, be sure to pin it to Pinterest and subscribe to my email newsletter to stay updated on future blogging tech tips like this one. Thanks for reading!

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Robert Partridge

After spending 20+ years working in the tech industry and teaching tech courses to college students, Robert now provides professional IT & WordPress support services to bloggers and blogs about the technical side of blogging. Contact him on Twitter, Google+, or via this blog's contact form.

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