I converted my Windows laptop into a Chromebook using Flex


You’ve most likely not listened to of ChromeOS Flex. It’s […]

You’ve most likely not listened to of ChromeOS Flex. It’s Google’s method for turning crusty personal computers into Chromebooks — which sounds like a neat strategy as a notion. But it’s principally been marketed towards firms and lecture rooms.

I wished to give it a shot, although. I have an older Home windows laptop that was dying to be converted into a new, snappy Chromebook. As somebody who’s been largely utilizing Chromebooks for just about half a decade, I was all set to just take on the challenge to see if ChromeOS Flex might be a serviceable way to convey old laptops again to existence. Regardless of some constraints in the stop merchandise, it is a quite intuitive way to breathe some refreshing air into an or else unused laptop computer.

Chrome OS Flex is all Chrome, all the time

The HP 14 2-in-1 Chromebook in tablet mode.

With ChromeOS Flex, any laptop computer can be your Chromebook. Which is the notion, but in fact, there are a ton of limitations right here when it arrives to which gadgets are supported — and how it all plays out (far more on that afterwards). But the crucial factor right here is that ChromeOS Flex expands the system to essentially any laptop.

Google says it is working on certifying Chromebooks for Chrome OS Flex, but you can pretty a great deal exam it on any product of your decision if you want to. My individual “Chromebook” has been a 2020 Asus Zenbook 14. Powered by a Main i3, it was not the swiftest matter on Home windows and would normally lag, hang, or crash. Slapping Chrome OS Flex on it makes the gadget really feel as fast as it really should be. Applications open and shut quickly, and even Linux applications, from business suites to movie gamers, operate with aplomb (even though they kick the fans into large gear).

The charm for me right here, as an individual who enjoys Chromebooks, was not that I could get Chrome OS on low-cost Chromebooks. It was that I could expand my Chromebook lookup to gadgets with the specs and price tag array I cared about and get a high quality Chromebook for a portion of the selling price. With a Chromebook with 256GB storage, you must be in a position to hoard just about every meme you see if I want to with out spending for anyone’s cloud. Or not. What’s significant is to have the selection.

One particular issue you’ll discover about ChromeOS Flex is that its basic ChromeOS. It is not like CloudReady with some unusual blue Chrome emblem (the Chromium logo) — it’s bona fide ChromeOS. All your passwords sync more than,= and you get updates the very same as you would on standard Chromebooks — like the most current functions.

As a consequence of it currently being a bare-bones variation of ChromeOS, it runs really quickly.

It’s also a specified, purer vision of ChromeOS. ChromeOS as it exists proper now is a hodgepodge of abilities aimed at hitting a wide vary of audiences. These consist of the Chrome browser, the Linux subsystem, the Parallels assist, and the Google Play Keep. With the exception of Linux, Chrome OS Flex is stripped of all of these.

As a end result of these exclusions, although, it’s very fast. However Chromebooks are typically touted as speedy no subject the value selection, this generally implies rapid for their rate vary. Any one who’s owned a small-stop Chromebook and a large-end Chromebook can inform that there’s the variation in speed. This means that most modern-ish Windows laptops staying pushed to ChromeOS must web you a decent pace strengthen.

The portion the place things get dicey

sus Chromebook Flip C536 sitting upright on desk.
Mark Coppock/Digital Traits

My largest challenge with ChromeOS Flex has been motorists. It’s a bizarre one mainly because drivers are like aglets. You only tend to notice them when they’re not there. It is specifically weird simply because before ChromeOS, there was the aforementioned CloudReady. When running CloudReady, however not as element-total as Chrome OS Flex, Bluetooth worked.

On updating to ChromeOS Flex, Bluetooth motorists were being killed for some buyers, myself involved. That meant some of the Android attributes like Nearby Share, Cellular phone Hub, and distant unlocking your Chromebook with Good Lock no longer worked.

To be clear, it’s not like these attributes don’t exist in ChromeOS Flex. They truly do, and if Bluetooth functions for you, you’d be equipped to use them. This is not constrained to non-licensed gadgets managing ChromeOS, as Google suggests, and it is not even the exact same situation every single time. That makes troubleshooting the problem a nightmare.

Making use of a ChromeOS Flex machine feels like employing a Chromebook from the early days of the system.

You’re also lacking Android applications and the Google Enjoy Shop. It’s not automatically crystal clear why you just cannot install any Android apps on ChromeOS Flex formally, nevertheless we can hazard a guess. The Google Play certification method that all organizations transport goods with Google Play preinstalled have to pass very likely can make the Enjoy Shop itself a no-go. ChromeOS’s containerized mother nature also suggests that it could just take additional work than Google would treatment to do as opposed to the opportunity financial gain. There is no stage in dithering the feature does not exist, and which is a shame.

Absolutely sure, you can do a large amount with world-wide-web apps — and that’s one thing you are going to recognize even if you were being working with Windows or macOS, but occasionally an offline app would be superior. Yes, you could enjoy Cloud online games on Stadia — but the Play Retailer has a wealth of online games. Streaming music via Spotify or YouTube Audio and online video is easy, of training course, but what if you were on a long vacation with spotty Wi-Fi and needed to protect the battery on your telephone? Difficult luck. Making use of a ChromeOS Flex machine feels like making use of a Chromebook from the early times of the system.

It was worthy of a shot

ChromeOS Flex is a great strategy, and it has a great deal of assure. After employing it for 50 percent a year, I came away impressed at how well it runs on a method that it is not made or accredited for. It is that platform-agnostic, freewheeling spirit that Google has normally embodied when it is at its most effective.

But there are certainly warts together the way. The much more latest your hardware, the much less warts you will encounter, but don’t bank on Google performing to correct each and just about every difficulty with ChromeOS Flex that comes up. In the close, that indicates owning a ChromeOS Flex product as your major computer possibly isn’t the ideal idea. You will pass up individuals more recent ChromeOS capabilities, and you’ll want the assist that will come with a thoroughly qualified Chromebook.

But if you have an outdated computer sitting about that would or else just collect dust, it’s truly worth supplying it a shot, particularly if you like the strategy of possessing a Chromebook as a secondary unit.

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