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First thoughts about my new Chromebook … | The Gadget Consultant

Freddy Cloud

Frederick (“Freddy”) Cloud has had a passion for all things electronic since he “accidently” caused the class Commodore PET to malfunction in 8th grade. “I swear. I didn’t do it on purpose” He was quoted as saying to a very unhappy computer teacher... Read his full bio

First thoughts about my new Chromebook …

chrome_logo_2xSo it happened that I needed to replace my laptop. Why? Not important. Just know that I needed to replace it. Considering that I use my PC more that I used my laptop, the idea of spending a lot of money on a new one didn’t really sit well with me. So I took my own advice: I sat down, figured out what I was going to use it for, and based on that I figured out how much power I needed. Then from there figured out what I wanted to spend, and started searching for deals. What I ended with, though, may surprise you …

My last laptop was a Windows 8 machine, just like my desktop. I’m not going to say that I’m in love with Windows 8; I don’t HATE it, but considering how much effort I use to avoid it’s Metro interface, I wouldn’t call it a love affair. But I also wasn’t prepared to make the leap into Mac Os X, either. As cool as Mac OS is, Apple is still pricing their machines at a premium, and considering this was just going to be a secondary PC for me, I wasn’t comfortable paying that much for something I wasn’t planning on using as much as my desktop. But over the last couple of years, a third option has come up: a Chromebook. It wasn’t something that I had originally considered, but the more I thought about what I used a laptop for, the more it seemed like a viable option. And at the price I was finding them for, it made sense to give it a try. If it didn’t work out, I could always sell it for around what I paid for it, or just send it back if I determined that it wasn’t going to work out quickly enough. And then there’s always the option of giving it to the kids. So I threw caution to the wind and ordered the Acer C720 Chromebook.

C720-photo-gallery-05

I’ve been using the Chromebook for the last few days, and I’m going to just cut to the chase: I don’t miss the laptop. At all. Not only is the Chromebook smaller and lighter than the laptop I had, it’s faster. WAY faster. It takes mere seconds to boot up, and I’m ready to go a few seconds after I log in. Now, to be fair, if the laptop had a SSD drive and a faster processor, the boot time would decrease, but I don’t think it would ever be as fast as this Chromebook. Not the one I had, anyway. More than that, though, for what I paid for this Chromebook there was NO WAY I was going to be able to get a Windows laptop that wasn’t going to drive me crazy. Chrome OS is essentially an operating system built around Google’s Chrome browser, so it’s not as processor heavy as a full-blown installation of Windows on a PC. Even with it not having a state-of-the-art processor and a ton of memory like my desktop, I’m not feeling any lag or stutter, even with a lot of browser tabs open.

Naturally, there are compromises that I had to make because I’m not using a standard PC. There’s no CD/DVD ROM drive, so no watching movies or listening to music that’s on a disk, but since I generally stream the movies and music that I enjoy on PC or tablet, that isn’t a problem.  I can’t install things like Photoshop because this isn’t running Windows or Mac OS, so if it isn’t web-based or an application made for Chrome OS, I’m not using it on the Chromebook. But for certain things like Word I can use the web version, and not having Office is even less of an issue now that Google has made their own suite of productivity apps like Docs (which is what I’m using now), Sheets and Slides. If need be, I still have my PC to do any heavy lifting or something application specific. Again, the Chromebook is my second PC. It’s pretty much stayed in my bedroom. It’s nice to not have to sit in front of my computer to do things like edit a document, update my blog or search the web for something. I can even print since my home printer is Google Cloud Print compatible.

Chromebooks are definitely making an impact. Schools are purchasing them for kids to use because they’re inexpensive, and more importantly they’re secure. Remember, this is an OS built around a browser. It can be easily locked down, software can be easily distributed to it, it updates automatically, and you won’t need to install virus protection. You really need to be connected to the Internet in order to take full advantage of it, but you are able to work offline. Could I use it as my main PC? Almost, but not fully. There are still things I need my Windows PC for. I think in time, though, as things move more to the web and in the Cloud, I’ll need it less and less. I’m invested pretty heavily into the Cloud and Google’s infrastructure (Gmail, Calendar, etc), so for me this wasn’t THAT big of a risk. And if a large percentage of what you do is web and Internet based (and you don’t need Windows for any specific applications), then I’d say consider getting a Chromebook. I’m definitely glad I took the chance with it …

Freddy C.

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