Our favorite device so far this year is the Chromebook, a laptop that is neither Windows nor Mac but uses the Google Chrome operating system. It’s light, it’s fast, it’s half the price of an iPad, and people will know you are on the cutting edge. We mean, if they ask.  Samsung and Acer just came out with new versions.

Nearly everything you do on the Chromebook takes place somewhere in the wild blue yonder online and is synced with all your other devices. It’s great for web surfing, email, web apps and word processing using Google Docs. There’s no way to install any software, but this turns out to be the big reason for no problems. In fact, we couldn’t see any. That’s because every time you turn it on and connect with the great Google in the sky, they update it automatically and repair any quirks.

Other pluses: It boots up in seconds and doesn’t get bogged down with malware. The whole family can use the same Chromebook. When they each sign in, it feels as though they’re using their own computer. Each user logs into their own Gmail account and sees only their own apps and bookmarks. This is probably the way the future will work.

We’ve now owned a Chromebook for six months, and it’s as fast as it was just out of the box. That’s because it never gets junked up with extraneous software or spyware. Chromebooks are made by either Acer or Samsung. We have the Acer model, but if we got another we would get the Samsung, though at $199, the Acer is $50 cheaper than the Samsung.

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