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Polishing the Chrome(book)

April 2, 2013

So for about a year I’ve been in a quandary.  I’m a tech guy.  But at the same time, I really hate full-size laptops.  I loved my first-generation Acer Netbook, but unfortunately its Achilles Heel was the power adapter connection.  One too many falls off of the table doomed it to non-functionality.

That was a about a year ago.  I don’t travel overnight as often as I used to so I haven’t had a huge need for a portable solution.  My week spent on the road back in September was a pain.  I thought that my iPhone would be enough to communicate and take care of business, but I was sorely mistaken.  Trying to type anything more than a quick e-mail on the screen was somewhere between annoying and painful.

During the Christmas holiday I was on the road again.  I didn’t want to invest in a laptop so instead I augmented my iPhone with a Bluetooth keyboard.  The results were not much better.

While I don’t travel much.  I missed having the utility of having the Netbook available so I could work on e-mails or light web surfing without having to be cloistered in the office on the desktop PC.  And away from the desk I don’t do much more than that.  I’m not going to photo edit with the laptop because frankly I am picky about screen calibration, I’m going to be using a mouse, and gosh darn it if I need a mouse I’m going to be sitting at a table so why am I not in my comfy desk chair and on a higher powered machine.

But on the off chance that I do spend the night somewhere (or multiple nights) and I want to shoot with the camera, I no longer had a computer I could fire up, plug in a card reader and then transfer those images to a hard drive.

So a few weeks back I picked up a Google Chromebook.  The Samsung version.  I wanted to pick one up around Christmas time, but they were sold out pretty much everywhere.  When income tax refunds came in, I dropped the $249 + Tax.

So now a few weeks out the verdict is…  I love it.

Pros:

– Battery life is as good if not better than advertised.  Simple typing and low-impact processing will get me 7-8 hours on a charge.
– Keyboard feels great.  Better than my netbook–bigger and better keyboard action.
– Start-up time is around 5 seconds.  Perfect!  If I want to settle an argument by hitting Google or IMDB, it is ready for action almost immediately.
– Transferring images from SD card to an external hard drive is super simple.  The SD Card reader is built in and there are two USB ports on the back (including a speedy USB 3).
– The touchpad for the most part does not get into the way when I’m typing.  Far less sensitive during typing than my old Netbook.

Cons:
– Nobody will confuse the screen for a Retina display.  Not the worst display on a laptop I’ve ever used, but it certainly would not be one that I would want.
– I’m concerned with the durability of the power adapter.  I likely am not going to use it plugged in for any length of time for fear that one good shift is going to bend it.
– Right-clicking is awkward when there are no mouse buttons to work with.  Right-clicking requires two fingers to be pressed down.  I’m still getting used to it.
– There is no Ethernet port on it.  Generally not a problem, though there are still hotels that only offer wired Internet.  I may have to carry around a wireless router, just to be safe.

All in all I am very pleased.  Nobody will every confuse it for a replacement for a high-powered gaming laptop, but that’s okay.  That isn’t what I bought it for.  It is a portable utility computer and it just works.

I hope to try it on the road in the near future just to see how it performs.

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