Chromebook vs Chromebook Plus: What is the Difference?

Chromebook vs Chromebook Plus: What is the Difference?

Chromebooks have carved a niche in the laptop market, offering a streamlined and secure experience for everyday tasks at an affordable price point. But within the Chromebook family, there's a term that might cause confusion: Chromebook Plus. Are they a whole new category, or simply a marketing label? Let's delve into the world of Chromebooks and Chromebook Plus to understand the key differences.

Chromebooks: The Foundation

First, a regular Chromebook is a laptop that runs ChromeOS, a lightweight operating system developed by Google. ChromeOS prioritizes web-based applications and cloud storage, giving Chromebooks a reputation for being fast, secure, and affordable. Here's what defines a typical Chromebook:

  • Cloud-centric: Chromebooks rely heavily on an internet connection. Most tasks are performed through web apps like Gmail, Google Docs, and online tools.
  • AI foundation: Built on the same AI that ChromeOS has been using for the last 10 years to help personalize learning for students
  • Security focus: ChromeOS is known for its robust security features with automatic updates and sandboxing that isolates applications, minimizing the risk of malware.
  • Speed and simplicity: Chromebooks boot up quickly and offer a user-friendly interface. They're ideal for tasks like browsing the web, checking email, managing social media, and working with online documents.
  • Limited offline functionality: While some Chrome apps offer offline functionality, many features rely on an internet connection.
  • Modest specs: Chromebooks are often equipped with lower-powered processors and less storage space compared to traditional laptops. This keeps them lightweight, affordable, and efficient.
  • Easily managed: The Google Admin console enables IT administrators to easily manage all ChromeOS devices.

Chromebooks have been widely adopted in schools for student use and in some targeted enterprise applications. According to a recent interview in PC World with John Solomon, vice president of ChromeOS and education at Google, “We also obviously are very strong in education. Futuresource just came out with their latest data. And, you know, that’s largely on the back of a very affordable product, which is easy to manage on the education side, In enterprise we are increasingly a frontline worker value proposition.”

Chromebook Plus: Unveiling the "Plus"

The term "Chromebook Plus" doesn't signify a separate operating system. It generally refers to Chromebooks with enhanced features compared to their standard counterparts. These more robust machines are ideal for a few target user types:

  • In schools: teachers, administrators, staff, potentially high school students with more advanced processing power needs
  • In enterprise: front-line workers such as healthcare workers, first responders, retail employees, and even call centers

The Chromebook Plus enhancements, all included in CTL's new CTL Chromebook Plus PX141 Series, can vary depending on the manufacturer and specific model. However, some common themes emerge:

  • Upgraded hardware. Chromebook Plus models typically boast more powerful processors, increased RAM (memory), and larger storage capacities. This allows for smoother multitasking, handling more demanding applications including those that incorporate AI, and storing more files locally. The CTL Chromebook Plus PX141 Series, for example, offers the power of Intel i3 processing combined with up to 16 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. 
  • And speaking of AI. These devices offer the most advanced AI, including generative AI capabilities built right into ChromeOS. The Chromebook Plus is viewed as the “launchpad for AI” (John Solomon, PC World), and include a host of Google AI tools including Help Me Write writing toolset, Magic Editor for Google Photos, AI generative backgrounds, and new AI-powered video calling tools to enhance clarity and lighting, cancel noise, and blur backgrounds on Google Meet, Zoom, and Microsoft® Teams. 
  • Support for apps. The Chromebook Plus supports Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, A Chromebook Plus also enables access to the latest Adobe apps, including Photoshop and Express, powered by Adobe Firefly generative AI. These may require a separate subscription. 
  • Improved displays. Some Chromebook Plus devices come with full HD resolution displays, offering sharper visuals and a more immersive viewing experience.
  • Professional grade features. backlit keyboards, a full 1080p webcam with privacy shutter, and other higher-end functionality
  • Offline capabilities. While ChromeOS remains web-centric, Chromebook Plus offers File Sync to makes it easy to work with Google apps on or offline, so you don’t require constant internet access.

Choosing Between Chromebook and Chromebook Plus

The question boils down to your individual needs and budget. Here's a breakdown to help you decide:

We suggest a Chromebook if:

  • You are outfitting students, frontline workers, or others who need all the cloud computing access with less processing power
  • You prioritize affordability and a simple, secure experience
  • The primary tasks involve web browsing, email, and online document editing
  • You value portability and a fast boot-up time
  • You have access to reliable internet most of the time
  • You don’t need the highest resolution display or robust AI toolsets

We suggest you upgrade to a Chromebook Plus if:

  • You are outfitting teachers, staff, or workforce users who require more power, more apps, and more AI tools
  • You need a more powerful Chromebook for multitasking or demanding applications, such as those incorporating AI
  • You require a sharper display, a backlit keyboard, a higher resolution webcam, privacy shutters, and other enterprise-grade features
  • You want more robust offline capabilities

The Evolving Landscape

As ChromeOS continues to evolve, features previously exclusive to Chromebook Plus models might become standard across the board. Additionally, manufacturers are constantly innovating, introducing new Chromebook models with unique functionalities that may blur the lines.

The Final Verdict

Whether you choose a standard Chromebook or a Chromebook Plus, you're getting a secure and user-friendly laptop experience. By understanding the core differences and your specific needs, you can make an informed decision and find the perfect Chromebook companion. Remember, the "Plus" in Chromebook Plus signifies an enhanced experience, not a completely different product category. With a growing variety of Chromebooks available, you're sure to find the perfect fit for your Chromebook users.

View CTL's complete line of Chromebook and Chromebook Plus models.

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