The Case for Chromebooks

A few months back, as I twisted my laptop’s charger round and round for ten minutes patiently waiting to hear the beep letting me know it was actually charging, propping a pillow under the cord JUST. SO., and trying to work as motionlessly as possible to not upset this careful balance –I succumbed to the idea that it might be time for a new lappy. Putting old lappy out to pasture was a stressful notion…mainly because I feel hopelessly clueless about all things technology and have a terrible time making decisions (especially when they involve spending money). I didn’t want to live lappy-less for weeks on end as I waited to make up my mind. I also never necessarily believe that more expensive is better…surely there was a better option than dropping a few G’s on a machine. Thankfully, I received some much needed tech advice. And because I think the words of wisdom I received could be valuable advice for all of my budget conscious readers, I asked Chet Breaux to share it with y’all, too! It’s great to have a tech guru on speed dial. ; ) Enjoy!

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Chet: I’m writing this post using a Chromebook. What’s a Chromebook? You may have seen them advertised recently and thought “that’s just a tiny laptop!” You would be correct, but not necessarily about the tiny part. Chromebooks are a new kind of computer that runs the Chrome operating system. If you’ve ever used Google’s Chrome browser, the setup of a Chromebook will look remarkably similar. So what’s the big deal? Why should you care?

First, Chromebooks are inexpensive. They aren’t “cheap” as many tech bloggers have been quick to claim. My machine, an Acer A7, set me back just under 200 dollars. It has an 11.6 inch screen (small, yes), an Intel processor with Haswell architecture (more on this later), and a 16 gigabyte internal hard drive (tiny right?). How can I get anything done on this thing? It’s actually easier than you might think.

Google launched this project because they know a thing or two about the internet, and, more specifically, how people use the internet. Their analysis of Chrome browser users indicated that people were spending a whopping 90% of their time on a computer in the browser. Suddenly, a machine built around a web browser makes much more sense.

Let’s go back to my Chromebook, which seems to have very limited specifications. First, the size. It’s small. Is it a problem? Not really. I have very large hands, but I’m still able to type normally. The small size also means light weight, clocking in at about 2 pounds. This machine is perfect to travel with (no more super heavy bag). The Intel processor is slow, but that’s not important. Most desktop processors, and even many laptop processors, are overkill for what most people actually need a computer to do. The processor in my machine can easily run high def video and keep up with quite a few open browser tabs. Oh, and the small internal storage? Google will automatically give you a huge amount of cloud storage for free for a couple of years (don’t worry, that storage doesn’t cost much after your trial expires, and you are essentially paying for cloud backup, which everyone should have). You’re also getting a solid state hard drive. That means instant wake from sleep and about 20 seconds to boot.

Should you consider getting a Chromebook as your next laptop? Absolutely! Unfortunately, a lot of people in the tech industry have taken to bashing these machines and comparing them to netbooks. Dan Ackerman recently reviewed a new Chromebook manufactured by Toshiba. He’s making a lot of the same complaints I see in other Chromebook reviews. Yes, you have to be connected to the Internet, but so what? I’m not sure who they are speaking to with comments like these. I work at a University and have a home Internet connection. I don’t work in the middle of a field. Yes, it’s made of plastic. So is every other laptop under 1000 dollars. Yes, it has limited on-board storage, but that’s kind of a moot point in the streaming age.

What can Chromebooks do for you? Just about whatever you need in a laptop. Google has a suite of services that can easily take the place of word, powerpoint, and excel (plus all of your work is safe in the cloud and can be accessed from any web browser on any computer!) It runs Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Pandora….In short, I’m not seeing any limitations with my machine, just convenience.

Why do I care so much about Chromebooks? As an educator, I often see students that don’t have easy access to technology, and, I’m sorry- college students NEED a laptop. A 200 dollar Chromebook is a lot easier to afford than an overloaded, overpriced machine that Best Buy normally tries to sell to the parents of college students.  They can succeed with a Chromebook in front of them. I’ve seen it happen. Oh, and if something happens to it, don’t worry. All of your work is safe, and once you can afford a new one, all that it takes is a Google sign in to restore your machine.

I purchased my Chromebook with Chet’s help and couldn’t be happier with it–all of my work is seamlessly saved through my Google account which allows me to pick up where I left off right from my work computer with no hassle, I’ve yet to find anything I CAN’T do on it, and it didn’t break the bank. Perfect lil bloggin’ machine, in my opinion. What do you think? Do you have a Chromebook? Would you buy one? 

 

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