Using a Chromebook for Investigative Work-The Pros and Cons #118

I have been using a Chromebook that I purchased on Amazon for less than $200 and I have been growing increasingly fond of it.  I originally just purchased my Chromebook for blogging as I wanted something lighter, smaller and a computer that could last numerous hours on a single charge.

This is something similar to what I purchased.

I didn’t need another computer that was robust or was windows based.  I didn’t need a computer to render video.  I just needed a computer that i would write reports and blogs on as well as browse the internet when needed.  And I have found that the Chromebook fits that need very well.


What Chromebooks are Meant For?

I did a little bit of research and knew that the Chromebook would not replace my Windows computer by any means.  For the average customer the Chromebook is for internet browsing and checking email and watch movies from your Netflix account too!

Let me share 5 reasons you may want to consider a Chromebook for your investigative work.

#1.) Chromebooks Have Long Lasting Batteries

My Chromebook lasts about 8 hours on a single charge.  This will vary slightly depending on what I am doing (browsing the internet, video watching/Netflix/YouTube, writing).  Charging the Chromebook is quick as well.

I love how long it lasts without needing to be on a charger.  It is so nice not having to constantly monitor how much power is left.

#2.) It Starts Up Immediately

You know how when you start up a Windows computer it can take forever to get into the sign in page and then after you sign in you have to wait a little longer to get to your desktop? Ya, I am not fond of it either.

A Chromebook boots up immediately.  I sign in using my Google credentials and I am ready to go.

#3.) Security

The Chrome Operating System has malware protection and built in virus protection that is always being updated.  I hate having to worry about updating a computer.


#4) Cloud Storage

I received 100GB of free storage for 2 years in the cloud.  I can store documents, photos and videos in cloud. If I find photos of subjects I am looking for I can save it in a folder in the “cloud”.  The cloud storage is similar to Dropbox (which I also use but that is for another article) or OneDrive (Microsoft’s version of the cloud).  If you want physical storage you can always pick up an external hard drive like the one I use.


#5.) Basic Word Processor (Google Docs)

The basic word processor will save anything your are writing automatically to the cloud.  And you can go to your cloud account from any computer with an internet connection and resume working on the document you were working on.  You can also work on Microsoft Word documents with an app.

I prefer to write on Google Docs and then when I get to my Windows computer I can copy and paste my writing onto a word document.

Google Docs has basically all the same functionality of Microsoft Word (but it just isn’t Word)

What You Cannot Do on a Chromebook

No DVD watching

There is no optical drive on a Chromebook.   That means you can not watch DVD movies on your computer.

No Video Editing

There is no real video editing on a Chromebook.  There is an app called WeVideo for the Chromebook.  I have not used it yet but when I do I will share my results.  It looks as though it is web-based video editing with a free and paid option.

Limited Internal Storage

My Chromebook came with a 16GB solid state drive which is pretty limited. You can upgrade your storage by using a SD card.

Printing Problems

Google has something called cloud printing which is not compatible with all printers.  I have to believe it will become more common for printers to be compatible but it is not with all printers. My printer is nice and about 4 years old but is not compatible with cloud printing which keeps me from printing directly from my Chromebook.  There is a workaround but it is not convenient.

Most Apps Need an Internet Connection

A Chromebook is at its core a web-based computer. It needs the internet to be fully functional. There are some great apps that are used on the Chromebook but it again needs an internet connection.

How I am Using a Chromebook

Currently, I use my Chromebook for blogging, report writing, writing notes, and searching the internet quickly.

I remember interviewing someone whose vehicle was stolen and I needed to discuss with him exactly where it was stolen from.  Usually, I pull out my phone and open Google Maps to have someone point out where something took place. I am not fond of using my phone because it is small.  In this case, I opened up my Chromebook, connected to the internet using my phone and used Google Maps on my Chromebook computer to have the individual show me where the theft took place. I had a bigger screen to work with and it was easy to point on the screen together.

If I need to do internet research while in my car I don’t have worry about my computer running out of juice before I am finished.

It is so small and light I can stick this 11.6 computer in my camera bag along with my cameras or in my laptop bag with my windows computer and it fits.

If this sounds like something you are interested in and it fits your needs I would recommend picking one up on Amazon and I will have some recommended models.  I purchased my Chromebook for $150.  It was discontinued by the manufacturer (which means they basically stopped making my specific model).  It is essentially the same computer as the newer models without being more expensive.

If you have any questions be sure to comment in this article and I will do the best I can to answer them.


  1. I just purchased a really nice “military grade” as they say, Dell Chromebook 11.. it is very nice, waterproof (spilled coffee on the job of course) built rugged with rubber edging… yada yada…. I have a work-horse computer at home to do all my video editing, and wanted something exactly like this Dell Chromebook….
    Since I’ve purchased it (3 days ago) I’ve yelled, & screamed, all to many times! I’m so used to a PC…. however, I’m slowly liking it, as I would agree with what you wrote above…. I wish the Chromebook had a GPS chip in it like all tablets/phones, to use like my typical GPS offline navigation while on surveillance… currently I use an Android tablet… I cannot figure out a way to stream or tether my phone to the Chromebook that enables me to view the navigation on the screen, there is no GPS external dongle for Chromebooks, … very unfortunate. The Chromebook is nice for notes, research/investigation on the road etc., but sure would be nice to have it all in one unit.

    • Thank for your comment Mike. Ya, I don’t know anyone anymore that is using GPS that connects to their computer anymore. I think the last time I saw that set up was a friend of mine using Microsoft Streets and Trips like 11 years ago. Most people just buy a GPS or use their phone now for that kind of stuff.

      It is not an all in one computer by any means but it serves its purpose, its small, light weight and I don’t have to worry about any malware or anything like that.

      I think for what it can do it is appropriately priced.