Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chromebook feedback?

A couple of quick questions for my readers.  I'm thinking of getting a Chromebook computer as a portable writing tool, one that's cheaper and less costly to lose or damage than a full-blown laptop or notebook computer.  I have in mind either the Samsung or Acer low-cost offerings (about $250 and $200 respectively - I can't afford the high-end stuff).

Does anyone have any experience with either of these Chromebooks?  In particular:

  1. How have you found the experience of using online software as opposed to programs that are loaded on your computer?  In the absence of internet connectivity, is the Chromebook just so much dead weight, or can you still do productive work on it (e.g. edit word processing files, etc.)?
  2. Has the keyboard been acceptable for extended sessions of touch-typing?  I'm thinking of the sort of typing I do for a chapter of a book, or a long article here on the blog.  Some keyboards are very difficult to use in that they're poorly laid out or not very responsive, while others are more suited to the task.  How do the Chromebooks compare, given their small footprint?

I'd be grateful if you'd please share your experiences with us in Comments.  Many thanks.



Rich said...

I don't know if you've heard of Kim Komando. She hosts a weekly radio show on computers that I value highly. I highly recommend perusing her site.

She was asked about Chromebooks this last weekend, and didn't think highly of them. The hardware was nice, but the requirement that you have the internet up and working in order to get anything at all done didn't seem like a good idea. The software was VERY limited.

She also didn't think they were good value for what you got.

Anonymous said...

As part of my current job I have one coming in this week for evaluation. I will let you know what I find out.

Brad J (Kazrak) said...

[Full disclosure: I work for Google. This comment is my personal opinion, not that of my employer.]

I have a Samsung Chromebook which I use offline quite a bit. If you want to test what it's like in offline mode, set up offline mode in Google Drive on a laptop or desktop, then disconnect it from the Internet. It's just like that.

The only thing to keep in mind is that, before you go offline, you want to make sure your documents are fully synced up to the latest cloud versions. This is really no different from making sure your laptop has the latest version of whatever document you're working on. What I generally do when I know I'm going to be offline is open up Drive and then put each doc I'm working on in a separate tab.

I understand it can also do offline email (via Gmail), but I haven't tried that out.

As for the keyboard - I have no complaints with it. The trackpad isn't as good as a Mac's, but the only issue with the keyboard is that I'm not used to ctrl and alt being quite so large anymore. I'm writing fiction on it, up to a couple thousand words at a time, to give you calibration on what I write. I'd guess I've done 20-30k words on it overall.

Solomon said...

laptops have come down in price so much that a 200 dollar chrome book just doesn't make sense unless you just want to be on the cloud.

i have an acer 15in with 250memory and 4g for 250dollars.

Chris Carmichael said...

For me, it's not "there" yet. Chromebook is a good start; but I find a quality tablet better. No matter what OS you take: Android or Apple iOS, the support is better. Cloud support on both are as good as the Chromebook. I like the smaller form factor; but I also like the ability to hook up a bluetooth keyboard and use it as a computer. There are some things you cannot do in both platforms. My investment in the iOS is from iPhone, to iMac to the iPad. My recommendation is give it time to season. I am not saying the Chrome is bad; it's that there are products already on the market that can do the same job on a proven platform.

Anonymous said...

Given your disdain for the erosion of our of privacy online, I would think a laptop which requires you to use google software to store your documents in a google format on googles servers (for their current or future perusal I'm sure), would be a non starter.

Farm.Dad said...

I cannot speak to the chromebook but based on this piece of crap laptop i have i wouldn't gift an acer anything to even an enemy .

Why not pick up a galaxy tab or nexus android tablet and a keyboard ? Looks like more bang for about the same money to me anyway .

Anonymous said...

I can't speak directly to the chromebook, but a few years ago a picked up acer's netbook the aspire one. From what I can make of it, the netbook and chromebook are pretty close except for operating system. As for the mechanics of the keyboard there is a definite learning curve to typing on the smaller layout but once I got used to it I actually came to prefer the smaller board.

The Great and Powerful Oz said...

I have an Asus 10" netbook that I paid around $300 for almost 3 years ago. Since then I've seen it on sale for $200. I would recommend buying a netbook and putting Linux on it. I know a guy who bought a Dell Mini 9, put Linux on it and now carries it with him everywhere he goes. He paid less that $100 for it used and is unconcerned about losing it.

Promise me some good home-cooked meals and I might just be willing to drive over and help set it up, you're probably less than 10 hours away.

BryanP said...

One of your fellow bloggers, Marko Kloos, just posted about how much he likes his Samsung Chromebook.