The Chromebook is a newer kind of computer that’s neither a Mac nor a Windows-based PC. As such, it doesn’t run many familiar apps like iTunes or the full versions of Microsoft Word and Excel. So, why would anyone want one?

The answer is that a growing number of people fulfil all their computing needs on the web. Major email services like AOL, BT, Gmail, Outlook (formerly Hotmail) and Yahoo work really well in a web browser; Skype, Zoom and similar platforms are available on the web; and you can make documents and spreadsheets with Google Docs and Sheets or the free web-based versions of Word and Excel. And of course, when you’re doing a Google search, reading Wikipedia, shopping on Amazon, or watching YouTube, iPlayer or Netflix, that’s on the web too.

Google created the Chromebook as an alternative to traditional computers to reflect this shift in the way many of us work. Chromebooks are simpler to use because they just run Chrome — plus various apps, if you wish, like a tablet or smartphone. They also tend to be faster than PCs of equivalent specification and price, and require next to no maintenance; in particular, there is no lengthy process of installing updates. Finally, because of the way their software is designed and because it’s not possible to ‘install’ third-party code in the conventional sense, they are more or less immune to malware.

Chromebooks are made by Google itself as well as by many traditional computer manufacturers like HP and Dell. They are available online and in familiar high street shops like Argos, Currys and John Lewis.