Living with a Chromebook

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My laptops have always been heavyweight – sporting powerful CPUs, lots of RAM, big disks and weighty batteries. A lot to heft about.

 i  Chromebooks run on “Chrome OS”, a platform designed to get to your online content as fast as possible. It’s ideal if you want easy access to the web. We find they can also be good when offline.

Given that I use my laptop mainly for blogging, a bit of surfing, and a bit of shopping, I started to wondering if I really need the bulk. After all, for a while last year I had tried using an ancient (from 2009 I think) Asus eePC (running Linux Mint) for some writing work. And that’s tiny, although the 7″ screen is a little small for my long term use.

So last August I bought a Chromebook and after 9 months of living with it, I thought I would summarise the experience.

For those who want to cut to the chase – YES I would buy another Chromebook without hesitation, Like one of these from Amazon UK.

HP Chromebook

What did we buy

It is an HP model 11-V050NA. It has a dual core Celeron (an N3060) running at 1.6Ghz. It has 2GB RAM and 16GB of flash storage. It cost me, at that time, £219.99 (a bargain in my humble opinion). It has am 11.5″ screen so using it for a good writing session is absolutely fine and as it weights only about 1.2KG with a very good (not fantastic) battery life, it is easy to sit with this for hours on your lap blogging away… My son, who types at an (alarmingly) fast speed, also likes it for writing.

Here is a summary of what we think after 9 months:

What we like

  • Portability. It’s small, light and easy to carry. Perfect for on-the-go work
  • Battery life. Perfectly fine for those typing session and note-taking. As always, we want more but it functions well enough to stay charged for a few days
  • Performance. With a 1.6Ghz dual core CPU It is not the fastest PC out there. But for word processing, browsing, shopping, and watching videos, it works well
  • Keyboard. This is a big plus. The keyboard is responsive and nice to type on for long periods
  • The OS (Operating System). Works well enough, and my son figured out how to load android apps for wider uses (there are online guides to help with this)
  • Start-Up. It can be a but sluggish when booting. But it’s fast to come out of sleep usually being quite quick and responsive if you don’t have to log in (for example, if you’re quickly going from one place to another)

Things that could be better

I have to say that we are being a tad picky here because there is very little to bleat about.

  • Customisation. There are limited ways to change hotkeys, buttons and applications. A bit more freedom to customise (in the OS) would be nice
  • Start up speed. As we mentioned, it can be slow to start up. But most of the time we sleep it and it’s fast to wake up. As you would expect – it can slow down when loading multiple documents and other media

Overall offline usage

This is important. We were a little worried that it would be horrid without a live Internet connection.
However, it has local storage and can save files to its memory. It functions absolutely fine when offline, and if you have apps that store locally rather than online, and update themselves when they do come online, it works even better. In fact it works well when using it as an “offline laptop”, where you can upload and update files to google drive or dropbox.

Overall comments and general experience

The most useful aspects of this delightful chromebook are its portability and lightweight OS. It’s perfect if you intend to use it for things like writing and note-taking. It’s not quite powerful enough to comfortably handle bigger business applications like PowerPoint.

In summary

Well, it is so good for it’s intended purpose that my son decided he wanted it for his studies, so I probably need to get another.
Would I buy another of these units – YES without any hesitation.

Buying options

Technology moves fast, and the model we tested would appear to be unavailable at this time. However, this is a up-to-date listing of Chromebooks at this major UK online retainer.

Alternatives

We have not our hands on the Chromebooks below, we offer them as options for you to think about.
Chromebooks from Amazon
Chromebooks from Currys

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