Chrome OS is the best operating system you’ve never heard of, and has gone from relative obscurity in the last few years to being a prime contender in the laptop market. Though there are a few larger models (such as the eye-wateringly expensive Pixel), Chrome OS is intended mostly for netbooks (or ‘Chromebooks’ as they are called when loaded with Chrome OS) and offers an ultra-lightweight and easy to use interface. Chrome OS is, quite simply, Google’s Chrome web browser turned into a full operating system and, for the large majority of people, this is pretty much all they need out of a laptop. A Chromebook will let you type notes (through Google Docs), check your email (though Gmail), stream videos, browse the web, video-chat with your family – unless you intend to do more intensive tasks like editing video or playing games, Chrome OS can handle. And now, with Microsoft making their Office applications available in the Chrome store, you can even write your essays on it (or make the switch to the increasingly robust Google Drive).
The downsides? Well, much like with a Mac, you pretty much need to be on the Google ecosystem – which means just having a Gmail account really, which pretty much everyone has already anyway. Chromebooks are rarely particularly beefy machines either (they are just netbooks after all), but, as with the Chrome browser, the selling point of Chrome OS is its speed and lack of clutter, meaning it can eke out all the performance you’re likely to need from the relatively modest specs of the laptop. Perhaps the best thing about Chromebooks, though, is there price. Most cost under £300, and some even go below £200, going on £100, not to mention the increasingly wide variety of makes and models available. Chrome OS is great for most users, and comes at a much lower price than MacBooks, but this does mean a more basic laptop experience. If you want to do more demanding tasks or have access to a wider variety of programs, Windows is the OS for you, while if you want a refined, premium laptop (that comes at a premium price) then it might be worth the extra money for a MacBook.