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Chromebooks, The Computer Appliance

I love Chromebooks and I'm not the only one. As of March 25, 2014 the number 1 and number 2 best selling laptops on Amazon were Chromebooks! The more expensive HP with a larger screen was number 10.

They are fantastic devices if you use them for news, Internet, and email. They are not Windows machines, or Android machines. They use the new Chrome operating system, which is a mini version of the Android operating system and an expanded Chrome browser. They mostly use web apps, but can function quite well off-line doing word processing, composing emails, or working spreadsheets.

The benefits are:

  • Very fast bootup. From completely off, to getting your email is less than 10 seconds. If it was just sleeping, then the startup is immediate.
  • Very inexpensive. Most run from $200-$300, with screens from 11-14 inches.
  • Safe. Virus and maintenance free. These are the appliances many people wished their computers were.
    • Your data is automatically encrypted when saved.
    • The operating system checks for corruption on every boot and repairs itself.
    • The system updates itself every 6 weeks.
    • The systems appear to be virus free.
  • Over 10,000 apps available.
  • Very long battery life
  • Very fast Internet action.
  • Access to lots of Web apps for writing, spreadsheets, presentations and games.
  • Very durable. Fewer moving parts than most Windows Notebooks and less heat problems. These normally do not use spinning hard drives, so that source of heat and failure are eliminated.
  • Flash. Unlike Ipads and Android tablets, Chromebooks play flash videos.
  • Both Guest and supervised users (parental controls)
  • SD Card slots
  • USB connections
  • Usually HDMI out

The limitations are:

  • No Windows Applications. No Quicken or Quickbooks or lots of other Windows programs.
  • Only about 10,000 or so apps. Not the 1 million available for Android or half a million for IOS devices. Less than a quarter of the top apps available for Android and IOS are available for the Chrome OS.
  • Currently they are all in the clamshell configuration. (except the Asus Chromebox)
  • If you are going to print, you'll need a cloud printer.
  • No Java or silverlight. (most of you don't need either one). Java is NOT javascript which is needed by virtually everyone. Chromebooks do javascript just fine.
  • No optical drive (dvd or blueray)
  • More dependent on the cloud
  • Limited local internal storage, though there is an SD Card slot and you can connect USB hard drives.
  • Screens all seem to be 1366x768 displays, regardless of size. This is fine for normal viewing, but they are not extremely high resolution. They are not HD.

After I recommended the Chromebook to a friend, she wrote me: "You are so right, I do love this. This morning I went to it to look for new email and it was so fast and easy. Just open it up and away you go. ...
So, thanks again, your choice in gizmos was right on."

Choosing a Chromebook

When you choose a Chromebook, there really isn't much to think about. Newer ones are better of course, but the big question is, how big a screen do you want? As the screen gets bigger, the weight goes up, the price goes up, and it takes up more room. However, bigger screens have bigger screens. So, I recommend these:
  • Acer C720: 11.6" screen, $199. Weighs 2.76 pounds (best selling laptop on Amazon)
  • Toshiba CB35 A3120 - 13.3 Inch screen, $275. Weighs 3.3 pounds
  • HP Chromebook 14 - 14 inch screen, $299. Weighs 4.19 pounds.

Breaking the pattern, the Acer C720P has a touch screen. I find the touchpad very usable on Chromebooks, and you can plug in a mouse, but there is a lot of convenience to a touchscreen for laptops that are constantly on the move. This is just like the Acer C720 but has more storage and a touch screen. It sells for $299.

Further reading:

Date: April 2014

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