Google Chromebook: My New Tech Love Affair

Google Chromebook: My New Tech Love Affair

Got tablet envy, but you’re wondering if a Google Chromebook might better suit your needs? Read about Max Nab’s experiences and decide for yourself! [Image shared by Google]

Max Nab (a cool name straight out of the Mos Eisley Cantina if ever I heard one) writes:

Hi, Chris.

I had a fairly powerful Dell Inspiron for for six years. It played all the games I wanted, ran MS Office without any problems, and allowed me to work uninterrupted. This was my main laptop for four years of college from 2007 through 2011. I brought it to most classes throughout college, and its only technical issue was when the internal Wi-Fi card melted in year three, but this was an easy fix with a USB stick.

My overall opinion of this machine was high, except for one problem which grew over time: it was large and heavy. In 2007, getting eight hours of battery life was achieved by a large battery that added an extra two inches to the length of the laptop. Over time, as expected, the battery life went to four hours, then two hours. As its power declined, this awesome machine’s weight seemed to increase. It was a chore to pack up this giant laptop and equally large charger.

Google Chromebook May Alleviate Tablet Envy

When the iPad became mainstream, I became jealous of its users. They seemed to easily take this device anywhere they went, and they could hold it at one hand. My jealousy was based on my desire for the ease of mobility of the device, but I had no interest in using a tablet. I depended on the keyboard and trackpad too much for primary use: writing.

I tried finding workarounds on the iPad from Bluetooth keyboards to different apps. These weren’t solutions, though, just unhappy compromises. After college, my use for the computer became Web-based. I found myself using Google Chrome all the time. From a work perspective, this meant emailing clients and sending them videos and digital pamphlets and media of my products. From an entertainment perspective, PC games were no longer relevant for me, and listening to music and watching movies and shows were transferred to Web access thanks to services such as Pandora and Hulu.

During this shift in use, each time I would visit a Starbucks or another coffee shop, I would envy the patrons sitting at tables with their tablets. This envy was amplified by my knowledge that a tablet still didn’t fit my needs once it was turned on. What I wanted was an ultra portable laptop.

I knew about the Google Chromebook when it was first came out and followed its development over time. This was becoming a potential solution to my problem. The recent marketing of the Google Chromebook HP made me believe that the time was now.

I spent a weekend reading and watching reviews and debating the limitations of the Google Chromebook. I dealt with the disappointment that the heavily advertised HP Google Chromebook 11 was not going to be an option due to a recall. That weekend, my Wi-Fi USB stick finally broke and it was time to take action.

Two weeks ago, after I confirmed that it worked with BT speakers, I purchased an Acer C720. Chris, I am happy to tell you that this Google Chromebook is perfect for my needs!

It’s very light, and I can hold it with one hand. I can take it anywhere because of its real-time seven-to-eight-hour battery life. But if I want to be prepared beyond that range, I can easily carry a charger due to its size.

Google Chromebook Not Without Compromises

There are a few compromises, though, and I’m wondering if you have solutions:

  • I like playing music, but I find myself accidentally (and constantly) closing out the browser tab where I’m playing the music; on the PC, it was running in the background, safely out of reach except for when I really wanted it closed.
  • Google Docs is not MS Office. I always used the outline feature in MS Word, and if I needed to make a PowerPoint presentation (regretfully, as I like focusing on non-media methods of audience engagement), I would also create it with an outline. Google Docs doesn’t have this feature, although with the help of a few tutorials, I’m finding ways to compromise. But it’s obviously still not the same.

Be Aware That a Lot of Google Chromebook’s So-Called “Problems” Exist on Other Platforms, Too

Chris, I want to thank you for your awesome reviews. Your defense of the the Google Chromebook in the face of Microsoft advertising was great. The common objection of the device being limited to just Web-based applications is moot. The majority of workplace software is being ported to Web-based applications. Nothing confirms this more than when my previous employer replaced our sales database software with a subscription to a cloud-based Web system.

In college, I used journal databases such as EBSCO and LexisNexis all the time. My current employer uses two major databases: one that operates in Internet Explorer, and an antique DOS-based system that I believe should port very well into a virtual HTML5. Without the Internet, laptops and desktop PCs become bricks for many people. It is apparent to me that the Google Chromebook will become a device for everyone.

Cloud-based computing is not without legitimate objections, such as protection of intellectual property and private information. It’s important to remember that personal servers are options for this type of storage.

I find it comical when the biggest objection to speed is that the device lags when a dozen tabs are open. Many peers would complain of this problem on their PCs or Macs, too. I still don’t understand why someone needs that many tabs open.

The Acer C720 has worked out so well that I’m thinking about getting Chromecast next to further expand my Web-based entertainment. There is one limitation I ran into, though. I use an iPhone 4S, and there is no way to sync the two devices via Bluetooth. This is probably not going to happen and I may replace it with a Nexus 5 in six months when its time to upgrade.

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  • Darren Burgess

    Thanks for the article Guest blogger. I may have some solutions to your music listening problems. You could open the music in another window that sits in the background rather than a new tab. Or alternatively use a third party web app called remo player which opens in a seperate window and this allows you to play music stored locally or on your drive.

  • Sam Anderson

    Nice thoughtful comments.

  • Don Davie

    I was hesitant at first, then i picked up a Samsung with the ARM and 3g so I had something to work on while I was on vacation. I loved it so much I snagged an Accer unit for home use that is for everything except games for which I have my 17″ laptop. And I agree with Darren, just pop open another browser window and minimize it. I do that while streaming netflix so i have something to listen too while I work :)

  • bob paul

    THIS DOESN’T EVEN HAVE ALL THE FEATURES A NORMAL COMPUTER HAS.

  • Evan Rowley

    I’m also having a love affair with my new Chromebook. Aside from what most sources are saying, I’m noticing a few extra advantages to Chromebooks:

    For enterprise, there really is no cheaper option than ChromeOS. Most organizations like that are consolidating applications onto their own servers, migrating to the cloud, and at the very lest transitioning into web-based applications. The Chormebook would be perfect for the majority of these users. In this context, the cost savings really are outrageous. I mean, the cost savings are outrageous enough for Google to spend millions pushing ChromeOS over the years and still have the product being relativley unpolular in just about every market. They wouldn’t have that kind of faith in the product if it was as bad as Microsoft would have us believe.

    I do believe that ChomeOS makes sense from a security standpoint. Currently I’m doing security consulting for a 60,000+ user organization, so it’s no wonder that I’m thinking of the “Big Picture” here. In organizations like this, it’s essential to prove that devices are given secure configurations on a continuous basis. We rely on the Center for Internet Security (CIS) to produce security configuration guides, AKA CIS Benchmarks, for as many devices as possible. The amount of vulnerabilities in Windows has gotten so unmanagable that CIS has split benchamrks for MS Windows into two categories: benchamrks for the versions of Windows OS; and then benchmarks for versions of Internet Explorer. When CIS or some other standards body starts producing benchmarks for ChromeOS, you can bet there will be a lot less vulnerabilities to worry about. You can also bet there won’t need to be multiple CIS benchmarks for just one device.

    Personally I have multiple MS Windows, Apple OS X, Linux, BSDs, and Solaris running at home. My internet connection is limited to 2GB per day because of my remote location. Updating any one of these OSes can seriously eat away at my allocated bandwidth. The situation is worse for farmers who live 10 miles further west than me, because their ISPs can limit their bandwitch to 2GB per MONTH. With ChromeOS, updates are negligible in size. I don’t need to wait an hour for major updates to be applied. Also, less critical security updates are necessary because there is less to secure.

    Compared to Windows, OS X, and even Linux desktop distributions, a user error can do a lot less wrong on a Chromebook. I’ve reinstalled from scratch too many of my own workstations at this point in my life to ever want to do it again. I would even take my HP Chromebook 14 over my fully-loaded 2013 MacBook Air 13″