My house is an Apple shop, indeed at times it can look like an Apple Store that has been left forgotten in a decaying mall (and that is before we get to the Apple Museum currently housed in my loft). However i have an interest in technology in general and when my Mum chose a Chromebook* as her laptop ahead of a tablet or other device i was secretly delighted as i was interested in what the Google powered laptop would be like...
The Chromebook (an Acer one) replaces a Dell desktop monster that has Vista on it, which takes so long to boot up ice ages come and go before you can get to a usable state. Thankfully the Chromebook is very fast to boot up. Indeed if you wanted to check something online you could boot up, check it out, read a few other things and then shutdown before the Dell monster had even got to the desktop stage.
The Chromebook is basically a stripped down subnotebook that uses a restricted version of Linux and the Chrome web browser as its interface. It works really well too. The trackpad is maybe a bit annoying but i am comparing that against my new Macbook Pro (which costs a lot more, indeed you could buy 5 Chromebooks for the price of my Macbook!) The screen is also no more than adequate compared to retina displays and the like but the speed and functionality is fine. I set up a few sites for my Mum including BBC iPlayer and full-screen video playback was fine. It may struggle to do much more than web surfing and email but if thats all you do on a computer then the Chromebook will be fine for your needs. I like the Chromebook a lot, do i prefer it to my (first generation) iPad? I think they are on a par though newer iPads would leave the Chromebook behind a bit (but cost a lot more). Of course you get a proper keyboard with the Chromebook... though its not the best i've ever used on a notebook, but still better than virtual keyboards which i've never got the hang of. Oddly despite being a device thats designed for use with an always on web connection it has quite a big hard drive but then again its probably difficult to get anything below a few hundred gigabytes these days.
It all depends on what you need out of a computer of course but its hard not to recommend the Chromebook if your needs are modest and you just need something quick and simple for surfing and email. Using a Chromebook means you are tied into the Google eco-system of course but you pays your money and choose your eco-system these days.
* She chose it without any prompting by me, she went purely on price.