I am admittedly a bit of a techie, in particular when it comes to phones, tablets and laptops. I follow several personal technology blogs and Twitter accounts. I keep our devices updated. Between the two of us we have 2 cells, 2 tablets, a laptop, a desktop, an Xbox 360 and the brand spanking new Xbox One. We have a lot of gadgets to play with right? So why add another one?
Well my Windows laptop is 4+ years old and between all the updates/virus protections, it has gotten slow as molasses. I’d read several reviews about Windows 8 and it seemed that folks weren’t that thrilled with it as well as being confusing to use since it has been so radically redesigned from Windows 7. And then I thought about what I really use my laptop for. So I made a list.
- I tweet. And I like to live tweet TV shows so I prefer a keyboard to typing on my phone or tablet.
- I go on Facebook.
- I stream/upload/download music.
- I read books.
- I surf the net in general.
- I check my email.
- I upload photos.
- I might chat online a bit.
- I watch Netflix or other TV shows that can be streamed.
And guess what….I do ALL of that online for the most part. All of that is done within a browser and in my case normally it’s Google Chrome. And because I am a person who is heavily tied into Google services such as Gmail and Calendar and use Android devices it made sense to take a closer look at the Chromebook.
First off what is Chrome OS:
With Chrome, the browser actually is the OS — in this case, the Chrome OS builds on the Google browser of the same name. It’s pre-installed by PC manufacturers who adhere to Google’s hardware specifications. The OS uses Web-based applications, so you don’t need local storage for software, either. Chrome OS is based around the cloud computing model. That means that all of your data and applications are stored online, in the “cloud,” so that you can access them from any computer, anywhere. Chrome is a seriously stripped-down, fast OS. Because Chrome supports only Web capabilities, it can do away with much of the bulk and unnecessary system checks that slow a traditional OS.
A fairly fast Windows machine might finish booting in around 45 seconds. In contrast, Google wants Chrome laptops to be up and running in 7 seconds or less. The Chrome OS user interface looks much like the Chrome browser. Beyond this browser-like OS, these laptops have no pre-installed software. There’s an integrated media player that lets you watch movies, play music and view photos when you’re offline. Adobe Flash is already integrated into the Chrome browser, so you can view all Flash Web sites, too. When you want to write a report, for example, you just access a Web-based word processing application.
For more basic computing tasks, though, you should be able to find applications that suit your needs, using Google’s Chrome Web Store. Similar to Apple’s App Store and the Android Market, the Chrome Web Store will offer applications for a huge variety of tasks.
So then I thought long and hard about what the Chromebook could do that my tablet couldn’t do and it came down to the fact that sometimes you really just need a keyboard to do certain things. And I was getting frustrated by my old slow laptop, when I needed to do it. So I didn’t look at the Chromebook as a total laptop replacement, it became more of a companion to the old laptop I have as well as my other tech toys.
Stay tuned for Part 2, where I will talk about my initial impressions of the Acer Chromebook that I got for Christmas and how I’ve been using it.