When I was first offered the opportunity to review a Google Samsung Chromebook I have to admit I was a little sceptical. I calculated the PC/laptop/smartphone/iPod touch to actual humans ratio in our house to be roughly 3:1. Did we really need another gadget?
Turns out though that I was a little stuck in my ways, and what I really needed was a kick up the technological backside.
It’s amazing really. I’m meant to be a social media expert, yet technology sort of scares me. I like knowing what’s what, and having the same devices doing the same things they’ve always done. The Google Chromebook has taken me out of my ridiculous old-person comfort zone and forced me to experiment and explore just what technology is capable of.
First off, I love the Google Chromebook because it is so damn fast. One of the things that annoys me most about my laptop is that it takes so long to whirr itself into action whenever you switch it on. The Google Chromebook is just there, in seconds, tail wagging, ready to play. This makes it perfect for having lying around on the coffee table – when any of us want to quickly look something up, it’s just so easy.
Boyfriend tried to explain that this is because it doesn’t get clogged up with software, that everything is stored on a cloud, but to be honest I still struggle with the idea of the internet, and where it’s all kept, so the thought of my Google Chromebook hovering in the sky above me was all a bit much. “But what if it rains,” asks my friend Ella, aka Purplemum, “and your stuff falls down into someone else’s computer?”
(I suspect these sort of comments make us exactly the kind of simpletons who need something as easy to use as the Chromebook).
It’s light too. I took it out to writing group with me this week and it was just like casually popping a small pad of paper in my bag. The battery life is amazing – two hours into writing group, when my laptop would be on its last legs, and the Chromebook still 83% battery – 6 hours and 27 minutes – left to go.
Boyfriend likes it because “it just does stuff without Windows cacking it all up.” In fact he likes it a lot. “I’m going to try and secretly make it mine,” he told me yesterday. Not if anyone else in the family has any say in it he won’t.
Bee was rather taken with the Harmony app – basically paint for fancypants. She created this lovely headed notepaper for when she launches her bee-spoke design business:
I think you’ll agree it’s a masterpiece.
Belle, I discovered five minutes ago as I searched for Bee’s artwork, has been using our Google Chromebook sneakily before school to take weird pictures of herself. I found a series of 14 pictures, taken between 8.13am and 8.17am, when I suspect I may have been in the shower. These are my favourites:
Boyfriend of course uses it mainly for watching really fast, noisy cars on YouTube.
Now at the moment we are all logging on with my Google account, which does make me wonder what exactly my Google friends will be thinking of me. “They’ll all be wondering why you are looking at videos showing you how to take the exhaust off a Saab,” says Boyfriend. (He actually said something far more complicated than that, but I can’t remember exactly what. I think it had the word ‘sump’ in it.)
A few nights ago Bee was playing some sort of shopping mall game. “Why have Britmums come in to comment on your outfit?” she asked me. You can see my problem. I don’t want the world to think I’m some kind of sump obsessed childlike gamer with a penchant for turning her own face inside out. This problem is just laziness though – I need to get us all set up so we can log on with our own accounts.
My favourite app so far is the Hootsuite plug-in. I use Hootsuite a lot, by which I mean all the time in a slightly obsessive way. The Hootsuite plug-in sits on my Chrome toolbar and means I can share content to any of my twitter accounts from anywhere. It really is fantastic. You simply poke the owl, and he* pulls out a comment and a link for you. Easy peasy. (And yes, that is a dancing Stitch on my wallpaper):
All these things are of course only simple little tools – the Google Chromebook has lots more up its sleeve that I’ve yet to get to grips with. This week I used it to ‘hangout’ with Britmums and Cherry Healey. My next task is to switch my laptop to using Chrome and then sync everything. Fancy.
One of the main publicised drawbacks about the Google Chromebook is the fact that so much of what you do relies on an internet connection but to be honest, how much of your time is spent somewhere with no Wifi?? Plus, there are actually a lot of features than you can use offline. There’s an offline Gmail app so you can compose and read emails, and Google docs and photo files can be edited offline too – all changes automatically updating the next time you’re connected. (You do need to set this up beforehand, so don’t set off on a long train journey and then get annoyed. Just saying.) The Chrome Web Store has a whole section of tools and games that work offline, so you should find plenty to keep you busy even if you’re away from the Wifi.
All in all, I can safely say that everyone in our house loves our new Samsung Chromebook.
Do you have one? What do you think? What would be your top tips for helping me get the most out of it?
*It’s definitely a he