Monday, May 19, 2014

The Chromebook Post I Always Meant to Write

For Christmas, my wife and I exchanged Chromebooks. I received the Acer C720 and she the HP Pavilion. We were replacing my Asus EEE and her Toshiba A210 and Macbook. We had some doubts about each machine as we were used either Ubuntu, Vista or OS X. However at the $200 price point, we thought we'd take a chance.
It's 145 days later and the report back from my wife is excellent: her Chromebook is used daily. Her favorite features are the quick boot time and the easy to use interface. It does nearly everything she needs.
She has two basic problems with her Chromebook. First, she can't connect her iPhone. This is the walled garden problem with iPhones. You just can't do it. The second issue is the lack of good MP3 player software. However, she found Spotify which is excellent on the Chromebook to address the lack of music.
My experience has been completely different. I am a power user and I was very concerned with the lack of offline capabilities, drawing software and photo editing tools. I have taken every step to avoid any problems by installing Ubuntu with Crouton. I cannot convey how easy this was, the Crouton is brilliant.
In my case, installing Crouton was premature. I do enjoy Ubuntu and all the powerful software that comes with it, but I discovered that I needed very few add-ons to make my Chromebook perfect for daily use. The Acer comes with a 300 GB hard drive plus 100 GB of cloud storage via Google Drive. I never have a lack of music. In fact, I can use Google Drive to store my basic music collection and download it to either my Chromebook or iPhone from my desktop. My player of choice is 3PM-Player, it reminds me of the old CD Player found with Windows 2K or Mac OS 9.
In the first few weeks of using my Chromebook, I was pining away for GIMP or Photoshop. Then I noticed that I was firing up Ubuntu and GIMP to do really basic editing. I guess I am more addicted to power tools than I thought. Talk about killing a fly with an axe. Recently, I added Pixlr to my machine and it meets most of my day-to-day needs. The Photo in this post was edited using Pixlr. The touchpad is not the tool for photo editing, but even a cheap mouse fixes this issue.
The only other downside is the "lack" of offline software for the Chromebook. The Chrome Store has tons of offline software, but for the longest time, it was hard to find. Recently, the Store added a checkbox filter for locating offline software which corrects the problem, sometimes. There are software vendors that try to sneak online stuff into the offline category, but those offerings stand out like a sore thumb.
I am really very pleased with our Chromebooks, I am starting to think of Ubuntu as a security blanket. I just can't let it go. Not now. But everyday, I'm learning to love my Chromebook more and more.


This Chromebook
A newer Chromebook