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Any Chromebook users out there?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Scott Merryfield, Nov 10, 2019.

  1. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I have never owned a laptop for personal use, although I had a Microsoft Surface when I was still working (plus access to various Windows laptops if I needed one). Since we are traveling more since I retired, I thought having something simple would be nice instead of trying to do everything on either my smartphone or iPad tablet. I didn't want to spend much, but Best Buy had a Samsung Chromebook on sale as part of an early Black Friday deal for about $120 after upgrading the memory and storage (price was reduced by $100). It arrived yesterday, and I have been playing with it some.

    Chrome OS is a web-centric operating system, and there is the option to install some Android apps, as well. Since most of what I do is web-based, the device seems to give me just about all the capabilities I will need when we are away from home -- as long as I have WiFi Internet access. The only things I do on my home PC that I will not be able to do on the device is editing my photos and running Quicken for financial management (but I am setup to pay any bills via Chase online banking, so this isn't a big deal).

    I have never liked using a track pad instead of a mouse, so I ordered a bluetooth mouse for the device. I am getting used to the track pad, though, as I am using the device actually in my lap sitting in my recliner right now, so a mouse will not always be an option.
     
  2. Dave Upton

    Dave Upton Audiophile
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    I used an early iteration and just found it limiting given how I work (i'm a multitasker). That said, if I were buying a computer for a family member who is 95% or more web focused, I would definitely consider one.
     
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  3. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I spent some more time yesterday customizing the device to my tastes. Some of the things I like are the fast wake up time when opening the lid -- it only takes a second or two -- and the battery life (10-12 hours per charge). I'm still finding the touch pad cumbersome, as it doesn't have any "mouse" buttons -- you left click by pressing the pad with one finger, and right click by using two fingers. Clicking and dragging is awkward The bluetooth mouse I ordered should be here tomorrow.

    I was able to load the Vudu and Amazon Prime Video apps without any issue -- too bad Apple TV is not available for Android like it is now for Roku.

    Local storage is only 32GB, which should be enough for most of my use. If I want to bring along a few movies for an airplane flight where we will be without Internet access, I can always plug in a thumb drive to the USB port.

    For the money spent, I think it's a decent laptop. I loved the Microsoft Surface Pro I had while working, but those devices are way too expensive for my usage.
     
  4. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Producer

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    I manage over 300 Chromebooks in elementary classrooms as part of my job. To that end I have one at home to test off-site policy and just play with to make sure it'll do what the kids need to do. For roughly 6 months I used one as my primary device at home and took it on a few trips - personal and business.

    Overall - for what it does I found it's a quite usable device. It doesn't multi-task, but that's not what you get one of these for. You get it to run rudimentary apps and browse the internet. We're a "Google Campus" so have full enterprise level Google Docs available. I don't like the Google office products as well as MS, Libre Office, or Open Office (I use Libre Office at home on my personal equipment) but for basic tasks it's acceptable. For "serious" work I highly recommend Google Remote Desktop. When on business trips I used that on the chromebook to connect to servers back home and do some network management stuff (basically connected to one C&C system and used that to connect to the tools or remote into other servers as needed). It has HDMI output so can be connected to the TV for some streaming (I did that until my grandson gifted me his XBox-360).

    I don't care for track pads so I always carry a mouse - wired or wireless - I don't care just as long as it's not a track pad.

    At home for me - it's a non-starter as I have several local databases I use on a regular basis. I also purchase music on CD and rip 'em to FLAC for the car. Can't do any of that with a Chromebook. Printing is somewhat of a kludge. I'm absolutely not a fan of Google's "Cloud Print" method. I've never tried a directly wired printer so don't know how well that might work. I don't print a lot but when I do print I *need* that hard copy.

    I've been pushing to roll them out to grades higher than currently assigned (up to 2nd) as they do everything the kids need to do on a daily basis. We have only a few classes at the HS which require Windows or Mac systems due to the software required for the class. Printing is the biggest issue we face - it's not pretty and doesn't work well in a lab/classroom situation.

    For people who don't use any software that requires a Windows or Mac system I recommend these on a regular basis. Most people just don't need all the bells/whistles of a "normal" laptop. Chromebooks have excellent battery life.
     
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  5. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Producer

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    You shouldn't have to "press" the pad to make those right/left mouse "clicks." It should work with taps. Tap with 1 finger for a left click, tap with 2 for a right click. But, yeah, it's awkward - a mouse is vastly superior to any touch pad.
     
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  6. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    Yes, tapping seems to work, too, It does seem to randomly work when just lightly touching the pad, as well -- which is annoying, since it's not consistent.
     
  7. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Producer

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    That's what always annoyed me - I'd lightly touch/brush against the pad and it's off to never-never land.
     
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  8. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    After playing with the Chromebook for a couple of weeks now, I think it is going to work fine as a travel laptop for my needs. It will never replace my home Windows PC, but the things I use that home device for are not needed while we are away. The bluetooth mouse is a huge improvement for me over using the cumbersome touchpad. I use Firefox as my browser on my other devices -- home Windows PC, Android smartphone and iPad -- so using Chrome is a little cumbersome, as my bookmarks do not sync. Getting the browser setup by importing all my bookmarks and then arranging my main ones on the navigation bar probably took me the most time in getting the device customized. Firefox is supposed to be available in the Play Store, but I only see their Focus and Preview browsers, not the general Firefox browser.
     

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