Alone with Chrome: My Chromebook Experience… The Review
The Laptop that is a web browser:
While we have had much experience with the Chromebook, I thought it would be a good idea to strip myself of every other laptop and desktop for a week, basically chaining myself to the Google Chromebook. If you are not familiar with what a Chromebook is, it’s a super inexpensive laptop that strictly runs Google’s web browser, Chrome. When I would describe to people that the Chromebook was basically a web browsing computer, the most common response I would receive was “So, it’s like a tablet?” However, I found that summation a bit inaccurate, as a tablet has many more settings and customization features. A Chromebook is a very cut down machine with an extremely focused purpose.
A Chromebook is ideal for two types of users: First, a user that is part of the Google ecosystem who utilizes Google’s office equivalent “Google Apps”. Second, a user who most of their job or needs can be accomplished through a web browser.
Chromebook for business, most of my job can be accomplished through the web:
What led me to the decision to run the Chromebook was the fact that most everything I do is in a web browser. Sure I utilize Outlook, but I can utilize OWA through Chrome to check my email. The main business applications I run are web-based (meaning I access them through a web browser). So I figured, what the heck let’s give this thing a spin. Plus, the price tag of $250 seemed super appealing and the design of it looked much like my Macbook Air.
A few items can be used offline: The bare essentials!
When I booted up my Chromebook I was thrown into the OS almost instantly, it took about as long as my TV does to power on. It had an excellent display and the layout was similar to what I was used to. However, there were very few options or applications installed natively, so I had to think about the other things I utilized on my desktops such as music, pictures, and Office documents. I quickly logged into Spotify to stream my music using their web based version and I also found Google Docs to be great for word processing and Excel like functionality. It is also excellent that both of those items can be used when the Chromebook is offline.
There are a couple of drawbacks, in my opinion, such as the lack of customizations to make the machine feel like it was really mine. Sure the Chrome Store has a ton of applications, but compared to the Apple App store and what’s available for Android, it’s extremely limited. However, if you utilize websites and web applications to do your job then the lack of options in the store are of no consequence. Another drawback is that Word is only available through an online version, it would be great to see this become available locally in the future.
The love affair:
What I loved about the Chromebook is that the battery life is outstanding. That, combined with the fact that I always knew the Chromebook would just work! It’s designed for a very specific and limited purpose thus the stability of it is outstanding. It’s dependable, like a 50’s era vacuum cleaner. I also found that things I used to do on my tablet, I would put off until I was in front of my Chromebook. The main reason for this was that the physically attached keyboard allowed me to zip through emails and my work applications. Also, I know after spending much time working on a word document or excel sheet I would get home and have to remember where it was stored or wonder if I will be able to get to it from home given my numerous devices. I have thought that way on probably a thousand occasions, but the Chromebook really put those concerns to rest once and for all. I knew if it was done on the Chromebook, then it was accessible from anywhere.
It’s a tool with a very specific purpose:
Now don’t get me wrong, this Chrome beauty is by no means a computer or tablet replacement. I don’t mean that in a bad way either, because to be perfectly honest I don’t think it tries to be a computer or tablet. The fact of the matter is that it doesn’t need to be. This machine is a tool with a very specific purpose in mind and how useful that tool is to a business or a specific user really depends on the how much of the users work needs can be accomplished through a web browser.
You can find ways to adapt:
I would describe my experience with the Chromebook like this: Running Windows PC or Mac is much like living in a huge house with a big kitchen and all sorts of conveniences; whereas running a Chromebook is like living in a tiny apartment. Sure you can get everything done within it but it takes a little figuring out and adjusting. You have to really adapt to “how can I do what I need to” with this thing. I think most users will easily adjust after a week or so and it will become the norm. For me it was at the day 4 mark when I really enjoyed my Chromebook experience. Just knowing I could do everything (for the most part) that I needed to on this one device was pretty exhilarating. It’s as if my whole world was contained in a ~2lb slim laptop.
My Chromebook is here to stay!
I honestly feel that Chromebook has now eaten into how often I will utilize my tablet. Due to its portability, physically attached keyboard and extensive battery life, I’d be as bold as to say it eats into my tablet or ordinary laptop usage by at least 50 percent. With the reach of the cloud continuing to expand, I see the Chromebook becoming more and more powerful over time. Plus, at $250 a pop, it’s worth a shot if you think a Chromebook could be a useful tool for you!
- • The price tag
- • Instant On!
- • Battery life
- • Offline office (Google Apps)
- • Encrypted (data stored locally is encrypted)
- • Full keyboard
- • Portability (weighs about what my tablet does)
- • Remote Desktop: You can connect to your PC!
- • Needs to be connected: Need to be online for almost (I stress almost) everything.
- • Limited apps: Not nearly as many quality apps as the Apple Apps store or that are available for Android
- • Not for creatives! (Due to lack of applications)
- • No Microsoft Office (However, Google Apps is extremely powerful)
- • Lack of settings and customization’s
- • Limited hard drive space.