A Tech Review: Chromebooks are Sexy

Look at those curves, oh yeah, you know you want one.

So I’ve already written about my CPAC 2013 experience at my blog and given that I’ve now had my new computer for over a month and I’ve found all it’s little quirks I took it with me to CPAC  I think it’s about time for a review on it.

Samsung Series 5 Chromebook

First, The Bad:

Without an internet connection you have a machine that is extremely limited in capability. I use an app, free from the Google Chrome store, called “Read Later” to save web pages that I would like to access offline, which works great for writing blogs on the go. You can also still use google docs to write while offline.

However, most apps (unless they state they are specifically for offline use) will not work when you don’t have internet connection.

This problem is further magnified by the fact that this computer is definitely not built for you to keep a massive amount of music or video on as it only has 16 gigabytes of solid SSD local harddrive storage. With internet you have further use of 100 gigs of Google Cloud Drive, free for a year, but you certainly will not be downloading the entire Beatles Discography or 7 seasons of Buffy to watch when you have no internet.

As far as entertainment goes, the bad news when I bought it was that Netflix was not supported by the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook that I bought, though it was supported on the Acer model (I refuse to buy from Acer), but that is no longer an issue. The compatibility for Netflix was fixed a week or so ago and so far it seems to play even better on my Chromebook than it did on my last computer, which was running Windows 7.

The only other issue I have experienced with my Chromebook is that it has the habit of shutting down on it’s own when it has updates to complete. It has always saved my work first, but it will shut down for updates without consulting the user first. Luckily updates have never taken more than 10 seconds to 3 minutes in the half dozen times it has done this and it hasn’t caused me any serious problems.

The Good:

Battery life on this computer is insanely good. On my flights to and from DC (both around 7 hours long) I used the computer for most of the flight (with inflight internet, which was free, courtesy of the 12 GoGo inflight internet passes I received with purchase of the computer) and still had battery life when I got off the plane.

During CPAC I regularly stuck the computer in my bag, in sleep mode, and used it off and on throughout the day for blogging and twitter (as well as a charging station for my cellphone) and I was never the person rushing around the conference center looking for a place to plug in my computer. I plugged my charger into the wall at the hotel and left it there for the entire conference.

The speed of this computer is amazing! I have never had a boot time this fast on any computer (roughly 4 seconds) and it goes from sleep mode to awake in about 1.5 seconds.

A common problem for bloggers can be that our browsers will slow down to a crawl when we are checking the news and have 15 gazillion tabs open. That has never been an issue for me on this computer, which has made me so indescribably happy that I don’t have words to express it.

Graphics and sound quality are surprisingly good for tiny laptop like this one and the controls for it are extremely easy to learn.

The Odd:

One of the little quirks I noted, which is actually a plus for me, is that when you have multiple tabs open only some of them will be fully loaded. If you switch to one that you have not been reading recently, the page will have to load all over again. This can be annoying in some cases (like if you are running Pandora or Dana Loesch’s live stream and the sound suddenly cuts out because the page is no longer loaded.) but generally this keeps the computer running much faster.

For pages that you don’t want reloading the issue can be solved by pinning that particular tab to the browser by right clicking on it.

Another oddity, which explains why I rarely actually shut down this computer and instead leave it in sleep mode when not using it, is that it will not let you log in to your main account without internet. Leaving your Chromebook in sleep mode is not bad for it though and it barely uses any battery power while in that setting.

 

Conclusion:

This is an amazing computer for blogging and travel and, if you aren’t a gamer or someone who feels the need to store tons of music and movies on your main computer, it even works very well as a main computer.

I admit that I do have a second netbook, running Windows 7, that I use for things like illustrator and photoshop, editing my podcast and storing my iTunes library (because those programs do not have a decently comparable Chrome app to use on my Chromebook) but I probably only turn that netbook on once or twice a week.

Long story short: At $249 this is a computer that any blogger or social media junkie should be thinking about getting. It’s lightweight, portable, fast, and has a battery life that will make your fellow bloggers, with traditional laptops, turn green with envy. I would, however, recommend investing in a portable wi-fi hotspot to make the computer even more useful.

 

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