Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Chromebook - Five Months In

It's been five months since I first used my Samsung Google Chromebook and I just wanted to check-in and let people know what I think, now that I've had a chance to break it in and integrate it into my geeky life.

First of all, I can say to most people that the Chromebook is not going to replace your main computer. In this day and age, abandoning Windows or Mac computer for something else is not something that can easily be done. It's not impossible, but it is very limiting.   For me, the Chromebook fell short a few times when I had to deal with some work files that required a free Windows program to open them. This would not have been such an issue had I had a 'real' laptop with me at the time.

Secondly, I found myself annoyed at being dependent on a network connection to do simple things.  ne day, I was trapped at local coffee shop during a heavy downpour. Not wanting to get drenched in the parking lot, I decided to wait in the coffee shop for the rain to pass and perhaps try to kill some time on my Chromebook. I figured I'd do some simple photo editing for a project that I was working on. I even knew that the Pixlr app on the Chromebook would definitely work for this since I had used it the night before. Then, I realized something was horribly wrong.

The Wi-Fi access at this coffee shop was down and no one there was technically inclined to fix it.  I offered my ideas on how to fix it but the barista insisted only the manager could touch the computer. At that point, I couldn't do anything on my Chromebook. I couldn't pull up Dropbox to get my files. I couldn't even load Pixlr.  I thought I was clever to considered downloading the photos using my smartphone but I decided against it since I didn't have an unlimited data plan at the time. Even still, that would not have solved the issue of not having an graphics editor that would work offline.

It was at that point that I realized that when it comes to using a cloud-based device like the Chromebook:  No Wi-Fi = No Work.

Regardless to say, I sat there disappointed that I couldn't do anything productive. I eventually ended up reading an eBook I had downloaded on my phone's Kindle app.

The Chromebook is not the perfect device for working professional because it falls short on things that we take for granted (like being able to use your computer despite not having an internet connection). Honestly though, if you're a professional, then you can probably afford to buy a real/proper laptop to do your work on while on the go.

Now don't  get me wrong. The Chromebook is not a bad device. It's just not for everyone. It's definitely not for people who expects a traditional laptop experience, because the Chromebook is not traditional. It's a new kind of monster that is basically somewhere between a tablet and a laptop and not doing either role very well.

If you're a starving college kid or a parent who wants a laptop to give to your kids, then this is perfect for that.

If you're looking for a computer for strictly doing web surfing and webmail and you would prefer to have a real keyboard than the touch ones that tablets offer, then the Chromebook will be more than enough for that.

If you're a professional looking for a light computer to work on, consider investing in an ultra-portable laptop because the Chromebook is really not for you. Avoid the frustration and pony up some cash for a real laptop.

If you're a techie, like me, who loves to play with new fangled computer things, then you'll probably buy the device despite knowing its limitation and you'll figure out how to put it to good use or probably sell it on eBay when you get tired of it.

As for me, I'm keeping my Chromebook. I keep it on the coffee table and use it whenever I need to write something drawn out and too cumbersome to tap out on my smartphone. Occasionally I'll surf the web on it and, more recently, watch some Netflix on it. (Yeah, apparently Netflix works on it now.)