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Does Anyone Care About Chromebooks?

Devices running ChromeOS is the 21st Century version of the Network Computer -- a dumb device that depends almost entirely on the smarts of the network. When Google first talked about it, tablets weren't quite as on fire and no one cared about Chrome-based notebooks. Now that tablets are fully engulfed, included those based on Android, no one still cares about Chrome-based notebooks, I'd say. That didn't stop Google from announcing new stuff recently in the form of some software updates and a new user interface.

Samsung, one of the few OEM partners, announced a couple of new boxes. Being Johnny on the spot, I rushed to Best Buy see one of the beauties, which start at only $300 -- the same as a decently featured Windows 7 laptop. The only problem was there weren't any Chromebooks to be found! Since I already have a decently featured Windows 7 laptop, I walked out of the store with a brand new iPad, which has already been taken over by my five-year-old daughter Kiley. I let you know how I like it after I pry it from her sweet, little fingers. One thing I do know is that it is resistant to blue Slushies, which is great since I didn't buy the insurance!

Has anyone out there actually used one of these things and am I wrong to be so down? Set me straight at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 06/08/2012 at 1:19 PM


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Reader Comments:

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 manymasters GA

I completely agree with the 4 posters before me, the Chromebook is an EXCELLENT alternative to the laggy/buggy hardware/software issues of Windows/PC, and the overly priced simplicity of Apple/Mac. I've had one since 11/2011 with no problems to speak of, a whole lot of offline capabilities, a great battery, and i got the Acer model so i'm able to replace the RAM or SSD in the future. Chrome OS has come a long way this year and just recently had some apps/extensions pop up that finally just removed my need for Windows any longer. This machine is now it's own ecosystem. Frankly, if you have one now and don't see it's value, you need to do some research on it's possibilities and capabilities. If you haven't used one yet, then you can't really understand, period. This is the list of offline apps: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/collection/offline_enabled?utm_source=chrome-ntp-icon and a list of supported file types: http://support.google.com/chromeos/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=183093 and a list of apps for everyday-program substitutes for use in school, at home, or at work: https://support.google.com/chromeos/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1056325&p=gsg_find_apps The Chromebook, like many things is what you make of it. After 20 years of computer repair, i've actually found my favorite.

Thu, Jun 28, 2012 AW

I'm thinking of getting a Linux laptop or Chromebook simply because I'm sick of putting up with Windows. I "upgraded" (HA!) from XP to Vista, and the thing is a joke - so poor that in my personal opinion, Win7 should have been given to any Vista purchaser as a free upgrade. I haven't bought Win7, but I've contemplated getting a pirate copy just to avoid giving MS any more money. That said, I don't think it would be worth it even for "free". As for Win8 and its ridiculous "Metro" UI - good grief, what are they thinking?! For what I want/need to do, Linux/Chrome are looking ever more inviting. Yes, you can actually do a lot more in Chrome than other commenters here seem to think. Personally, I can't wait to see the back of Windows. It's just a matter of time. If Google were to release a full PC OS tomorrow, I'd be gone before you could blink - not because I'm a fan of theirs, but simply because Windows annoys me that much.

Sun, Jun 10, 2012 Ulf Sundberg United States

Yes, there are plenty of reasons to care about Chromebooks as well as Chromebox and Chrome OS in general. Although there are shortcomings today, such as limited photo and video editing the advantages are great. As a user you have no a platform which requires little or no maintenance, e.g. no virus software to install and update, no migration at all when you change from one computer to the next. The total cost of ownership is low, especially if you consider lost productivity when dealing with other operating systems. The decision by Berkeley University recently is a case in point about the attractiveness of an online approach. As HTML5 gets wider adoption trend will grow even stronger.

Sun, Jun 10, 2012 Selden United States

Does anyone care about Windows? I have one of the original Cr-48 test machines, which rapidly became (and still is) the most used of my computers (which include an iMac desktop, and a netbook running Ubuntu/Windows XP). If I had to own only one computer, a Chromebook would not be it at this stage in their development, but it's the best travel laptop I have ever used, with universal connectivity, light weight, just the right size to fit in my motorcycle, and long battery life. I have spent less time on Chrome OS maintenance in the past 18 months than I have in a single day setting up a Windows 7 machine. Chrome OS "just works" and after 25+ years in computer support and system administration, I would say that it is a better solution than a traditional OS for the majority of clueless computer users.

Sat, Jun 9, 2012 DaveL

Our school has invested in 40 Chromebooks and the teachers using them, love them... The students also love them since any work they do on them is available at home on their computers with Google accounts. Also, if APPS are downloaded via the Chromebook, those same APPS are available at home on Chrome web browsers. These computers are light, and have no drives. IT loves the ease of set up. We even have teachers setting printing on their own without a lot of IT intervention. We certainly see some use to them, and were glad to see desktop models now available... It is GREAT for our school. ALSO, if plays flash movies which are often used in educational web 2.0. Regarding your advocacy for Windows laptops, we have some of those also, but they require much more maintenance and IT attention than our Chromebooks. Our Chromebooks are working at very well, even better than iPads.

Fri, Jun 8, 2012 IT Overlord Detroit, MI

I got a free Chromebook in the mail and was elated...until I used it. It is just as the last post said "a browser in a box". I use it occasionally for browsing when I travel because it is light, but I do not use Google docs so it isn't useful for work. It doesn't have a network jack, so it isn't useful for network related work. I refuse to pay for the 3G account, so unless I have access to a WLAN, it isn't good for much.

The most depressing thing is that there really is no way of opening anything off of a USB drive because the file manager is so convoluted and hard to find. Until I find a Linux distro that I want to try on it, I am using it for a paperweight.

Fri, Jun 8, 2012 Overloaded Engineer

Google had given me one of their Chrome books when they gave away about 50,000 of them or so. I thought it was horribly useless, unless of course all you did was web browse. First off I don't care for the Chrome browser to begin with, and that is ALL it is. Just a browser in a box. I thought about putting a good Linux distro on it, but the end result was that I just gave it away. (As did the person I gave it to, they couldn't stand it either)

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