After much looking around, I decided to buy a chromebook for myself, my recent decision to simplify my digital life going online with GDocs has been going brilliantly and I have never owned a laptop of my own to date, so decided to start with the Chromebook. I had a little play with one of them on a trial batch from work and found that I enjoyed its no-nonsense attitude, just power up and your on the net and this was in the days when they were largely bricks without an internet connection.
I have bought a white HP 14″ Chromebook, the strong influence on going HP overall was the RAM, second was the screen size, I just didn’t fancy one with less than 4gb of RAM.
I know that ChromeOS is light and not much in terms of operating overhead unlike windows, but mentally to me, probably something from my mainly windows based experiences, 4GB is the minimum I would go for, I also don’t fancy any ARM based device either, though I do like the Samsung styling, again thats probably me shaking off the “Windows” related thoughts with their dead man walking Windows RT platform.
Out of the box I have to say, I picked the HP white 14″ chromebook as the best of a bad situation mentally, I didnt fancy the option of torquoise or peach at all so its colour was a minor issue when I went to buy, if there had been a black or grey I would have gone for it and I do feel that we are quite limited in the UK as to what models we have on offer and what RAM is available unlike the US it seems, in the UK as I wanted a 4gb device, it meant HP full stop at the moment, especially as manufacturers solder in the RAM, their choices when it comes to colour are lacking with HP, the white is ok, but I do crave a decent more “normal” coloured laptop personally.
The device itself is “Unapologetically Plastic” to pinch a quote off Jon Ive from Apple, its sturdy enough and the screen is decent sized, resolution could be a little higher, it is very thin and light as a device and doesn’t carry the excess weight of other laptops I have used in the past. Hasta la vista optical drives baby !
I do have a couple of minor issues with the chromebook in that the trackpad has a single raised edge because of the recessed way its been fitted along the bottom edge of the keyboard, it could have been left flush, it makes it feel a little rough along that edge, there is also a very slight uncomfortable edge to the laptop because of the way the keyboard has been fitted into the case, it seems that its to do with the lack of a rounded edge around the keyboard of the device, so if your using it on your lap as I am now, it sometimes feels uncomfortable around the edge of the laptop on the wrists (at least I find thats the case for me), if its on a desk or flat surface, it doesn’t seem to have that issue so much, because it is fairly low profile when flat.
On powering initially it was a little frightening, first power button push and nothing, it wouldn’t boot, I thought I had a brick on my hands, it then took pushing the power cable in for it to boot up, despite it having plenty of charge when it did power up, then on its actual first boot the keyboard refused to work at all on the device, only the trackpad, so I managed to get it to shutdown via the trackpad and then rebooted it again, finally it came back up with everything working fine to the welcome screen.
From its welcome screen I input my wifi and google details and it went off and synced everything in the same as I have my chrome setup, I was already familiar with ChromeOS from my trial before and it also mimics ChromeOS if you use Chrome in “Metro” mode in windows I noticed.
The OS is lovely and clean, boots within 10 seconds and I am on the desktop and it shows me how “Simple” is better especially given that most windows machines I own take 1 minute onwards to get to a usable desktop, I find that simple word processing, netflix, emailing and web browsing more than work well for me on the chromebook so far and I am finding my way around the extensions store well so far, I can even remote into my windows machine with Chrome Remote Desktop, next thing to stab at is works VPN if its possible.
From my first week of ownership, I think its brilliant so far and I also think that Google have done well with the Chromebook to the point where the browser doesn’t even feel like a browser when your inside the OS in my opinion.
http://www.chromestory.com/google-chromebook/ - I would recommend this site when you first switch, full of may helpful details, like the change in keyboard shortcuts, it doesnt take all that long to master at all I find and im using them easily already.
I would also recommend joining the Chromebooks Community on Google+ as its full of plenty of helpful people and information on there.
In closing I think its testament to Chromebook that I am typing this while still on the initial charge of the laptop, nearly a week later of 1 to 2 hours internet browsing per night and its still showing a little under 15% battery.