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
Can’t see the point of one myself. What happens if Google goes? It essentially becomes useless. What happens if Microsoft goes bust? My laptop still works …. I guess if want a tablet but don’t like the idea of not having a keyboard then a Chromebook is a good idea.
Can you ever really see Google going though?? It is very much like a tablet with a keyboard. The portability and the speed are my best bits.
I love the photos – gorgeous. The Chromebook sounds great unless you live where broadband is really slow or non-existent as I guess it relies on broadband speed? Our speed is half a meg (i.e. very, very slow) and I sometimes wish I could pedal or something to speed it up!
Hmmm… good question, I guess it would depend on your broadband speed. I will ask for you!
I have a reply from Google for you:
“I’ve checked with the team, and my initial hunch is right – broadband speed affects the web browsing experience rather than the device itself. So using the Chromebook online should not be any slower than the general web browsing experience on any other PC/Mac device.
If she is worried about working online, Google Docs and Offline Gmail can be accessed offline, too, exactly as you mention in your post! There is more information on offline access here.
In the meantime, all of the general information about the Chromebook can be found here, with specific information on the Chromebook’s features here.
Hope this helps! Let me know if your readers have any other questions, and we will do our best to respond.”
Oopps, the links didn’t paste…
Working offline: http://www.google.co.uk/intl/en_uk/chrome/devices/features-learnmore.html#offline
General info: http://www.google.co.uk/intl/en_uk/chrome/devices/
It sounds so fantastic……*plots to steal yours*
I shall be keeping a close eye on it if I take it to any conferences this year ;-)
Actually I have no idea about software, hardware and IT stuff but what I look for in a notebook/laptop is the battery life and its weight. I am about to buy a new one for me so I may check it, too…I don’t know, maybe I am too immature for a device like that as the only thought in my head after reading your review was: “does it come in different colours?” :D Well, does it? :)
Weight and battery life are both amazing. Unfortunately I think it only comes in silver, although I know exactly what you mean – colour is always what I look for when buying a car!
No – I don’t have one… (sobs quietly). But I’m looking to upgrade my creaky laptop, so who knows…?
There is definitely no creaking with the Chromebook :-)
if you are looking for a new home for your older surplus technology dont be afraid to give me a shout!! No I am stuck in the dark ages with my good old laptop and would not know where to start with apps etc….though Im sure Mr Google I could learn
It took some time, but people are finally starting to realize that a reasonably-priced device that’s easy to use and starts fast has a place in the market. This is especially so now that Google has added more offline capablities.
But what if you need Office and other Windows applications? You can use a third party solution like Ericom AccessNow, an HTML5 RDP client that enables Chromebook users to connect to any RDP host, including Terminal Server and VDI virtual desktops, and run Windows applications or desktops in a browser tab.
Even if you purchase a Chromebook for casual home use, you can also use it to connect to your work applications if necessary.
Click here for more information:
Please note that I work for Ericom
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