Gadget Reviews

Life with a Chromebook

After attending Google IO I was lucky enough to have been gifted a Samsung Series 5 Chromebook this year. There was a surge of reviews coming out from the day they began shipping, but I felt there were few people that actually took the time to try to ‘Live’ with a Chromebook for a long time. There were also a lot of people who wrote Cr-48 (Google’s beta version) reviews, and applied them carte blanche to the Samsung Series 5, which I didn’t think was very fair having gotten to use them both.

It was actually quite a hassle to get the Chromebook in Canada yet. It is being offered for sale, it seems, in almost every other major market in the world, but there exists a big void here  in Canada for those wanting the Chromebook. I had to have mine (even though it was gifted to me from Google) shipped to Montana, a few hours south of me, and then had a port forwarding company re-ship it to me here in Canada.

The Great Things About a Chromebook

There are a lot of things I’ve found really awesome about the Chromebook. I do a lot of web writing, both e-mail, blogging, social media, etc. I use fewer and fewer desktop applications, and when I do I usually need to be plugged in to my big screen with my keyboard and mouse. My MacBook Pro is irreplaceable in this regard. For anything that I don’t do sitting at my desk though, the Chromebook has become this geek’s best friend.

The screen, oh the screen. It’s just phenomenal. It’s on par with my MacBook Pro’s screen, if not, dare I say it or be struck down by the apple gods, better. It’s matte which means I don’t need to close the blinds in the room the way I do with my MBP (I know, it’s an option, but I don’t have it). The viewing angles, blah blah blah, I don’t know. All I know is that in a side by side test, it looks a lot better than any other $500 laptop, and takes on much more expensive ones.

For more and more things, I use the web and not apps. Chromebook fits into that perfectly. My Hootsuite runs great, and the browser sync capabilities in Chrome mean that I don’t need to worry about remembered passwords, bookmarks, etc. I can open up my Chromebook, login and be working instantly. If I close it and remember I forgot to send that last e-mail, I’m instantly writing it. This is particularly nice as my MacBook Pro has become as fickle as a newborn infant when it comes to going to sleep – not to mention when I have to use a defibrillator to try to wake it up half the time. It’s no better with Lion.

What Can’t It Do

What can’t your browser do? Run Outlook, integrate nicely with Exchange server, and a number of other things. But when I sat back and tried to come up with a list, the things it doesn’t do are the things that there are, in all honestly, better solutions for now. I still have a lingering MS exchange account I can get at via Webmail, I still need to use iCal for some of the same reasons. The biggest thing though that is an actual void is offline. I seriously think Google needs to come up with some major improvements to the Chrome Web Store in order to give Chromebook’s a flying chance. Whether an ‘App’ is usable offline, partially or fully, is totally dependant on the app. Some are little more than a browser bookmark. Google Apps is now coming offline post the death of gears which is a great advance, but Chromebook users are still going to have a tough time on that wifi-disabled airplane. The 3G capability was certainly a must have – although again, not for us in Canada.

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