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A laptop that runs Google's Chrome operating system and Chrome Web browser. Providing a total Web-based operating environment, all applications are downloaded from the Web, and although an Internet connection is mandatory, some apps may run offline as well. Chromebooks boot up fast and require minimal user configuration. They also come with Google's office suite (see Google Docs). See Chrome OS and Chrome browser.

Designed for the Cloud
With user data stored on Google servers (see Google Drive), Chromebooks are essentially a laptop with a Chrome Web browser. In 2011, the first units from Samsung and Acer featured 16GB solid state disks. Dell, Toshiba and Lenovo followed, and storage was increased to 32GB in a few models and up to 64GB in Google's own high-end Chromebook, which debuted in 2013 (see Chromebook Pixel). Although this limited storage is deemed adequate for a cloud-based machine, SD Cards can be plugged into most Chromebooks (see SD Card), and some models do have hard drives.

Not Particularly Local Network Friendly
Chromebooks were designed as a type of Internet appliance, and they do not natively recognize other computers in a local network for file sharing. However, third-party apps let users find network shares and storage providers such as Dropbox and Box, as well as make the Chromebook's files available to others.

The Chrome "Box"
In 2012, Google introduced the Chromebox desktop model, offering the same functionality as the Chromebook in a mini PC footprint. The Chromebox includes a faster CPU and ports for a monitor, mouse and keyboard. See mini PC.

A Chromebook Keyboard
Some, but not all, Chromebooks have dedicated Web browsing keys, such as the Back, Forward and Reload buttons on the top row of this Acer keyboard. Caps Lock was replaced with a Search key.

Just Like Any Computer
Chromebooks look like any other Windows laptop computer. You can only tell the difference when you use it.