Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Chromebook Review

Chromebook Review

I might have convinced myself that I needed a new gadget, and given it also roughly around the time of my birthday, my boyfriend, Tom,  bought me a Asus C300 Chromebook. He really does spoil me! This Chromebook was part whim, part extensive research to fill the void of a writer’s need for the next writing implement. My laptop that has served me well for four years has become a bit slow, and just heavy to lug around. I’ve had notebooks in the past, the old faithful EeePC, may your Windows XP system rest in peace, the epitome of simplicity and portability.

The Needs of the Writer

The Chromebook answered a lot of my needs. I needed something that was lightweight, a bit bigger than a tiny notebook, but fast and a good battery life. The fact everything is done on the internet didn’t put me off, the basic Google docs does the trick when writing on the go and can be made accessible offline. How rare is it this days that you don’t have some kind of wifi within easy access? And even then you can use your phone as a connection to the internet to retrieve important documents (so long as you have a usb cable!).
I also wanted a notebook that fit my current laptop bag. No I wasn’t buying the shoes before fitting the foot. Well, the size of the Chromebook might have had something to do with it. The generous 13.3in screen means I’m not struggling to focus or learning too close and there’s still the feeling of using a full sized laptop. It’s a great size overall. The other impact of the screen size is the keyboard. I quite like the spaced out keys, it has a slight MacBook feel, and I’m not having to alter my typing style as I had to do with the smaller net-books.

I’m not a software expert but I had read about frustrations about the previous Chromebooks using Ubuntu, and how many people preferred to adjust the software to their own specifications. That’s something I can admire, but I’m quite happy for off the peg, one-size-suits-everyone software, and the Intel Bay Trail-M N2830 dual-core at 2.16 GHz seems to be working out just fine. Just don’t overloads the system with too many open tabs and that many videos streaming.

Battery Life

The C300 promises around 10 hours of battery life, and that does seem to be the case, I tend only to need to charge my Chromebook a couple times a week, if that. Again it won’t be a main work computer but it’s perfect for my light internet browsing and writing in the evening. If I do return to life as a freelancer this will do in a pinch for drafts of blogs and articles, but I will likely return to the laptop or even desktop for heavy editing and redrafting.

Portability & Usability

It’s light, and apparently weighs around 3 lbs, I certainly don’t find it a struggle to pick up with one hand or to carry across on shoulder in my laptop bag, my bigger Acer Laptop can leave me feeling a bit out of breath and a distinct pain in my shoulder. This laptop is a joy to take to work and use on my lunch break, I can feel that I have achieved something even it’s a few emails or dashing out a few lines on the current novel. The only shame is that I get a half hour for lunch!

I also like the fact the normal keyboard short cuts tend to work fine on here as well, I've become very used to ctrl+ c etc over the last few years and it can be hard to change the habits of a lifetime.

Does Using a Chromebook Mean That Google is Everywhere?

The short answer is yes, it is getting everywhere! Google controls a lot of aspects of SEO, people use Google everyday for searches, it’s a business tool, a social tool and now a physical tool. I know Google will track everything you do, but let’s not start sounding like Big Brother here. The laptop works fine for me, and I don’t mind Google docs being accessible from any of my mobile devices, I need to utilise it more!

The Drawbacks

One of the small drawbacks if when I try to attach a Google word doc into an email it seems to have difficulty opening for the recipient if they don’t have Gmail, so I have to either paste it or go back to ye faithful laptop, which can be time consuming.

The trackpad works most of the time, yet it seems to lack the finer sensitivity of a traditional mousepad on a laptop, you have to use two fingers and tap gently to get the right click. I’m used to that however and don’t find it a huge struggle, but highlighting things can be a bit tricky.

I also miss the delete button you get on normal keyboards larger laptops, silly but I don't always want to use the arrow keys to delete a few characters or words.

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