Chrome OS and Chromebook

Wasn't sure if this was the correct forum for this post... but here goes...

I have been basically using my crappy 6 year old Dell laptop as a Chromebook! I have read the Samsung review from The Verge also read some user reviews from some other sites.

I understand that Chrombooks do not run Java, which is fine with me. I know you have to download apps to the home screen and Google claims you do not need an antivirus and anti malware program. My question is can you open chrome web browser and surf normally? As I would with a lap top? For instance my outlook web based e-mail service from work, facebook in the browser... or can I only use apps that are available through the web app store?

I read you can also work offline in Google Drive, does the Chromebook offer the ability to save these edited docs. to the hard drive and then upload changes automatically to the cloud when online next time?

My fiancee has a gret ACER notebook for all her business needs, I mostly surf and do all my work with Google apps, except for work email from home... any help would be greatly appreciated.