Well, I finally bought a Chromebook, believe it or not!
It’s an Acer R-11.
What made me do it? Well, I’d been interested in a Chromebook for a while now, but I hadn’t needed one and also, I was following my own rule of not jumping on a new technology immediately, to avoid the initial bugs, high prices, and lack of additional features inherent in new technologies when they first come out.
But, my netbook, which I use as my backup and travel computer, was getting much slower and I needed a replacement.
So, I did some research as to what was out there, and decided the Chromebook fit the bill. And, finding that there are different ones available, the Acer R-11 looked best to me.
I’ve had the Chromebook for a few months now and it does perform most of the functions that my Windows 10 Laptop does, with some notable exceptions. First, the pros:
- It uses a solid state drive. Solid state drives (SSD’s) have no moving parts and don’t require the cooling fans that regular hard drives do. So, the computer tends not to have any heat issues, and the operating system (OS) works faster. It will also outlast conventional drives.
- Chrome OS works faster than windows and updates itself automatically, without slowing things down as Windows does with it’s “bit by bit” constant updates.
- The Chrome OS has built-in anti-virus capability, so I don’t need to install any antivirus programs.
- Boots very fast and performs smoothly and quickly. I simply open the lid and it comes on. I then enter my password and it’s ready to go. No loading of this and that as on a Windows PC or laptop. If I’m working on my Windows laptop, and shut down, only to find I’ve forgotten something, I simply go to my Chromebook and can quickly get back to what I wanted to and complete it, sometimes in less time than my Windows laptop can simply boot up. (And it boots up fast as it, too, is fairly new!)
- The Chromebook is lighter than my netbook and just as easy to carry.
- Chrome OS has been integrated with the Android OS, so I can install apps that I also can install on my Smart Phone!
- Any website that can be accessed with a Windows computer can be accessed with a Chromebook. As a matter of fact, you can perform most of the same functions on the internet, such as cutting and pasting, as you can with a Windows computer.
- Long battery life. I’ve used skype with the Chromebook for two hour sessions and used less than half the battery. On my Windows laptop, most of the battery would be used in that time frame.
When I first researched Chromebooks just after they came out, I heard and saw cons such as small storage and complicated printing, and limited abilities, I actually thought of them as being “expensive and bulky flash drives”.
But, in taking a second look earlier this year, I’ve seen that they’ve come a long way, and can be far more useful than I thought at one time.
While the OS is different from Windows, and the keyboard and built-in touchpad have a few qualities one must get used to, the Chromebook is not a totally alien machine. For instance, apps can be placed on a task bar, referred to as the “shelf” in Chromebook lingo, and you can attach a mouse or other peripherals via usb as you would on a Windows computer.
Even what I consider the two major cons, printing set-up and lack of storage, I find that they are no longer the show stoppers I thought they once were.
- Complicated print set-up.
- Inadequate internal storage space.
- Inability to work with many Windows programs and software.
- Chromebooks are more internet intensive and will run fewer offline programs.
- You do need a Google account, but this is free and easy to open. Once open, you can sync the account across devices so you will have the same Chrome homepage, complete with your bookmarks, settings, etc, no matter which device you use to access Chrome or your account.
There are workarounds to the cons, which make the Chromebook quite usable, however.
You still cannot simply plug in a usb cable from your printer and print from a Chromebook. However, if your printer has WiFi or wireless printing or Google print ability, then you can set up your Chromebook for printing. It is a little complicated, and probably requires that you adjust some settings on your printer as well as on your Chromebook, basically making your printer a “network” printer, even though it may be the only one. You may also need your router’s password. And, when printing, you may need to select your printer with the word, “network” in parentheses after it.
Internal storage space on my Chromebook is 32 gigabytes, which is currently at the high end. However, this can be remedied by using an sd card or flash drive for extra storage. Also, using such google apps as Google Docs, which store your documents in the cloud, you can also save space.
As for Windows software and apps, Windows software won’t install on a Chromebook, but, the Chromebook does have a word processing program which will open Windows word documents, even if they are on a flash drive or sd card. Also, apps such as Google Docs, can help in this regard, especially since documents created and run on this app can be converted to windows compatible docs and docs can also be made available offline, which also addresses the problem of the Chromebook needing the internet for productivity when internet access is just not available in any form.
The Chromebook also has an app that will open your pictures and videos from a windows computer stored on a flash drive or sd card.
As for music, I have found that music files from Windows Media Player won’t be opened by the Chromebook, but it’s possible that using an app, such as Google Play Music, personal music playlists might be accessible. I haven’t tried this yet so I don’t really know. Of course, music acquired through Google Play will play on the Chromebook.
In fact, with the integration of Android apps, you can add android games and other functions to the Chromebook. Some apps you will find are specifically made for phones and may not perform as they would on a smart phone. But many apps will do just fine on the Chromebook.
So, how do I like my Chromebook so far?
I think it’s great! Sure, there are a few things I still can’t do that I can on my Windows computer, but I can still browse and use apps like YouTube, access accounts like my Craigslist account, and perform other productivity tasks. And by adding apps, I can even play games!
There’s still more to explore on my Chromebook, but so far it has really exceeded my expectations. So, if you’re thinking a Chromebook is just an expensive flash drive, or is too complicated, I once thought so, too, and learned that it’s not. It’s much, much more and nothing to fear, especially if you have used the Chrome browser on your Windows computer. Happy computing!
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