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Thread: Finally got a Chromebook. Initial thoughts.

  1. #1
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    Default Finally got a Chromebook. Initial thoughts.

    I've been thinking about a Chromebook for a while now. I wanted something that was lighter, quicker, and the price is right on them.

    First the problems:


    • I work primarily on a Windows Desktop to do web design and support services. I also have a windows laptop, but increasingly I need to do stuff in Linux. My Windows Desktop doesn't do well with certain versions of Linux because there's no support for my graphics card, and for a lot of work I'll need to be mobile.
    • I have a windows laptop that dual boots Linux, but when I'm mobile I have to go back and forth between Windows and Linux because all my business emails were running through Outlook. It's also not the thinnest or the lightest. So a new laptop was in order.
    • Been using MS office for years, but I always thought it was more complicated than it had to be and I only use Outlook and Word.
    • I have android phones for both personal and my work lines. MS Office apps are better, but other things like Contacts and Google calendar work better than MS options. Outlook's mobile app is still cumbersome to me and a bitch to set up a lot of emails addresses one at a time.
    • To sum it up, I was split between two worlds of Google and Microsoft software and devices and neither provided a full solution for the different kinds of work I needed to do and for business and personal separation.


    So a while back I started using G-Suite, and I like it. Easy to separate business and work. Everything syncs with my phones, and Google docs are good enough.

    A few of my concerns were answered:


    • If I could dual boot or boot from a USB stick since it makes no sense to buy another laptop that I couldn't also run Linux on. I was contemplating buying a new laptop and just running Linux on it, but that doesn't make sense since I don't run my business on Linux. Plus thin and light windows machines are $800+. Turns out on the Chromebook I can run both Linux and Chrome OS on it.
    • I do use a couple of things on my Windows machines that I can't do without. Adobe Acrobat, Go To Meeting, GIMP, and my VPN's. Turns out there are Chrome extensions for all of them.


    • Specs on many affordable Chromebooks are Celeron processor, 2G-4G RAM, 11-13" screens. Reviewers say that's enough for web based applications, but I couldn't deal with that. I wanted something that could last a couple of years and I hate those really small screens since I'm not 15 anymore. But I didn't want to pay $900+ for one of the nicer Google or Samsung models with better specs. Found this https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/conten...ebook14forwork, and got an open box special on the i5, 8G RAM version. Nice machine. Very happy with the quality of it.



    Just booted it up for the first time today and the first thing to mention is none of that lengthy MS new computer "We're putting a few things together for you.." stuff. You just sign into your Google account and that's it. Ready to start returning emails and editing docs. You could literally take a Chromebook out of the box, turn it on, sign in and start working immediately. Very nice.

    Is it for everyone? Absolutely not. If you ARE already using Google products, especially Google for work, it may be something to look at.

    Will update as I use it more. So far so good.

  2. #2
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    After playing with things all night, I got a quick list of pros and cons for anyone wondering if it could be for them.

    Pros:

    1. G-Suite is only $5 mo. per user. You can use several alias email addresses if you have multiple entities. (You don't need to pay for G-Suite. If you have a Google account you have access to the basics already)
    2. Gmail is encrypted.
    3. There's Chrome extensions for pretty much every productivity platform and tool.
    4. Google says 60% of Fortune 500 companies are now using G-Suite and Chromebooks for their company devices.
    5. You can open and edit MS office docs with G-Suite applications
    6. You can now install Android apps from the Google Play store on your Chromebook.
    7. Hangouts works pretty well as a messenger, and video chat solution. Runs cleaner and easier than Skype. Easy to keep up across devices. I can make calls from any device.
    8. G-Suite has device administrator options for safety, security, and control of your devices from anywhere. It is compatible with MS and iOS devices too. You can set work profiles for employees who bring their own devices with the company apps and communication tools. (Chromebook admin support is $50 per year, per device. I'm using the 60 day trial right now.)
    9. Chrome OS security is excellent. There's support for most 2 factor authentication solutions including FIDO U2F keys.
    10. Battery life is excellent on the device. It says 12 hours, but I got an easy 8 of continuous use and playing with it yesterday.
    11. It's a great media device especially if you use Google Play Music, Google TV, and/or subscribe to a lot of You Tube Channels.
    12. It's not Windows. Chrome OS runs clean, light, no lag or waiting.
    13. Chrome OS is Linux based and "Open Source" although only supported by Google and it's partners. That means there's no license fee or keys to worry about.
    14. Idiot proof. Powerwash option repairs any issues and sets it back to factory default. All you have to do is log in and all your stuff and settings are right back.
    15. Support for multiple monitors ( although I would suggest better than a $199 Chromebook for that).
    16. Business/Personal separation. Easily switch between my work or personal profiles.
    17. You don't have to struggle with Windows backups, creating a system image, recovery disks, and all that other over complicated MS garbage.



    Cons:

    1. Not good for resource heavy, internal apps like photoshop and video editing. Really depends on what kind of specs you get.
    2. Not much storage on the device, but SD cards and low profile USB storage is cheap.
    3. Heavily dependent on keeping your stuff on your Drive (or other Cloud/storage accounts like DropBox) instead of on your device. (I think that's a good thing for people who travel).
    4. It's not Windows. If that's what you're used to, and want, stick with it.
    5. The model I got is NOT touch screen. Most Chromebooks are. I thought long and hard about it and since my primary goal was to be able to also run a Linux distro on it I decided that it wasn't a deal breaker for this particular Chromebook. Unless your needs are exactly like mine, I would suggest getting one with a touch screen. Especially if using the Android apps are important to you.
    6. Using your existing printer may be difficult as Chrome uses Google Cloud Printing and needs printers compatible with that. I think there's a work around, but not sure. I don't print much and don't need to print from it.



    It's safe to say that I'm digging it. I should make it clear that I didn't just jump in. I prepared by switching over my emails, getting use to using G-Suite Apps, using the Chrome browser and extensions, and I must have watched 30+ videos about Chromebooks, and Google Enterprise solutions.

    I also did a realistic assessment of how much of the work I do is web based. Turns out that most of it is. Probably 90%. Logging into accounts, servers email, Go To Meeting, and website admin panels...that's all web based. I'm in the browser most of the day, all of the time. That's important to know before even considering a web based platform.

  3. #3

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    Thanks for the review. I was introduced to the Google way from trying out the Note5 I got to see how I liked it versus the iPhone. I like the Google G Suite as well, and am seriously considering becoming involved with it as I believe it's the future for business.

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    Default

    A little over a week with it and I'm still very pleased. I've moved everything over to G suite which makes the experience even better and provides better separation of work and personal across all my devices. But that's not necessary for everyone,. I just wanted to do that and to stop being dependent on MS Office.

    And yes, running Linux along side Chrome OS is pretty easy works like a charm. This is honestly the first "laptop" that can do everything I need at any given time and still provides the portability and connectivity that I need.

    For my other laptop to have the same functionality I had to install a 2nd drive, which you can only do on older computers now, and dual boot 2 operating systems, restarting and switching between them when I needed to do something in Windows, and then needed to so something on Linux. That laptop is a beast but it's also heavy and battery life is about 2 hours. Maybe.

    Really glad I went this direction instead of another Windows machine. I highly recommend it for those who need something simple, light, secure..those who are already using all Google products and apps, or even those with complicated needs like mine. It's a a good machine and Google has really knocked it out of the park.

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    As you can see above I was very excited about the promise of Chrome. But after a few months of Chromebook use my opinion of the platform has kind of soured. Although I still like my Chromebook, and am fine with Gsuite and other Google services, I'm finally starting to see the device fragmentation that no one talks about.

    Every Chromebook does not get every Chrome feature. When you see articles that Chrome OS is getting this feature or that feature, actually the only Chrome OS device guaranteed to get that new feature is ONE Chromebook. The Pixel Book. For everyone else it's hit and miss.

    At first I thought it was limited by hardware specs or the age of the device. After all there are some very cheap, low memory, Celeron based Chromebooks out there. But it's not. It's literally a crap shoot no matter your specs or when you purchased the device.

    Furthermore, the confusing list of device code names and baseboards which supposedly determines who gets all the features and who doesn't is not something that any average consumer is going to understand, or know to check when they're purchasing a new device.

    Where does that leave you if you want a Chromebook that's capable of taking advantage of all the updates? Pretty much with the $1k+ 12" Pixelbook. Which is fine if you don't mind paying $1k+ for a 12" laptop. Personally 14" is as small as I'm willing to go and still call it useful, you know...because I'm a grown up with grown up sized hands, and don't like being hunched over the smallest screen and keyboard possible to try and get some work done.

    Even more frustrating to NOT getting every feature announced is the fact that you cannot boot a Chromebook from a USB without jumping through some hoops and removing the security features from the device. If your Chromebook is not on the list to get Linux support (for instance), you can also jump through some hoops to run Linux by putting it into developers mode, removing secure boot, and leaving it that way which is not only annoying because every time you turn it on it makes an audible beep and you have to remind it to keep booting in Developer mode, but it makes you feel like if you have to do all of that then there was really no reason to buy this device.

    So this defies the promise of what Chrome OS was supposed to be. Flexible, and affordable.

    This week's Google conference where new devices were announced further crushes that promise. The announcement of a $599 12" (why TF is everything 12" these days?!?) Chrome OS tablet running an Intel Celeron chip, with 4G RAM and 32GB of storage ( add another $199 for the keyboard, and another $99 for the stylus) further cements that.

    For all my complaints about Windows and Microsoft, one thing I know for sure is that if I buy a decent spec'ed Windows machine, all the features of Windows are going to work. I'm also a Linux user so if Windows doesn't do everything I want I can easily boot any other OS from a USB stick. Many Windows laptops in the $400 and up range are also repairable and upgradeable. To me THAT'S flexible.

    If Chrome OS did one thing, which is unlock USB boot without having to jump through hoops, for me and how I use my computers it would solve every of the above problems. My Chromebook is an Intel i5 with 8G RAM, so fine if you're not going to give me native Linux support I have the specs to boot anything. But I can't do that either.

    So for the average consumer/business person who wants the best bang for their buck, the most flexibility, and doesn't want to scan lists of code names and base boards to make sure they're buying the right device...I still gotta recommend Windows machines.

    Windows is still the better, more consistent, more flexible, more reliable, more affordable platform. Chrome OS aint there yet, and I don't think it every will be now. The next time I buy a laptop and need something flexible that can cover all my bases from getting work done, to development, to IT, to Pen Testing....I'd be hard pressed to make the case for another Chromebook because Chrome OS alone doesn't solve all my needs and I can't depend on it to NOT be fragmented since I'll probably never buy a 12" laptop at any price and if you want a Google device that gets every update that is the ONLY option.

    I really thought Google was going to speak more to business users and developers with this platform, and apparently they are not. They're falling into the same old trap as the others...over priced boutique devices that are more about style than substance.

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