Why I use a Chromebook

I’m a big fan of Chromebooks. I purchased my first Chomebook, a Toshiba 1st Generation, a few years back. Even though I am comfortable with technology, I love the simplicity, affordability, and how Chromebooks just work allowing me to focus on what matters; my work.

More times than I can share, Windows would “get in the way” of focusing on what matters. I’d be buzzing along and then an error, update, or some odd behavior, would sidetrack me for hours. Sometimes I only wanted to do something simple, like check information on a webpage, but the operating system would get in the way. I have not had this happen with my Chromebooks.

On the rare occasion that my Chromebook crashes, I’m back working in about 30 seconds! If something gets messed up, I can reset the computer to factory settings (called a Powerwash) in about 5 or 6 minutes. Resetting Windows would be a two to three day ordeal. Even a simple reboot could take up to five minutes to get back working!

Chromebooks just work. Updates take about 30 seconds. Staring from an off state to browsing the internet takes about 30 seconds. When I open my chromebook’s cover it “wakes up” from sleep mode almost instantaneously. Sometimes my Windows laptops never “wake up” and I have to turn them off and back on and waiting four or five minutes for them to boot. My chromebook acts like a tablet, but has a full keyboard. Actually, my Acer R-11 is a 2-in-1 so I can flip the screen 180 degrees and use it in tablet mode. Along with the usability, most Chromebooks are under $300 and some under $200. If the above wasn’t reason enough, the Chromebooks I’ve used last pretty much all day on a charge!

Chromebooks are not “power” machines and are not designed to run high end software packages. Since most people don’t run high end software, a Chromebook is all they really need. Anything else is overkill. Is an i7 computer really need to check email, or read Facebook? Sure, it is nice, but not needed. A Chromebook easily allows someone to check email, do online banking and shopping, work on Google Docs, connect with others through Facebook, Hangouts, etc. Plus, Chromebooks don’t suffer from the virus and security issues that other operating systems do, making them systems that “just work.”

I turn on my Chromebook and it works. Over the past three or four years I’ve spent much less time dealing with technical problems and more time writing, reading, and working. I like that! While Chromebooks might not be for everyone, if you are looking for a new computing solution and mostly compute “in the cloud,” check one out. Use it as you travel, or as a second computer. You might find how great it is to have a computer that just works.

It is possible to use Chromebooks beyond tasks on the web. In my next post I will outline how I use my Chromebook to access multiple Windows machines, use Linux, Scrivener, and have an environment for web development.

6 Replies to “Why I use a Chromebook”

  1. David, couldn’t agree more.
    I left Windows about 8 years ago and converted my laptops to Linux/Ubuntu which was great.
    About 3 years ago I saw my first Chromebook and wanted to investigate; went and bought the first HP 14 CB which I loved.
    The only issue for me was the use of a Money Management program (used MS Money then KmyMoney). Dabbled with a couple of options and finally settled on Money Dashboard a web-based system which provides all that I need. I had moved from Adobe PS to Gimp and as I’m not a professional photographer I am more than happy to use Solarr and Pixlr for photo editing etc.
    I use a web-based system to manage two websites with no trouble.
    I now have a Dell 13 CB and it is excellent, fast, good battery life, superb keyboard and touchpad.
    I am the local go-to for friends/relatives who have problems with their Windows machines and I am reminded every time I have to deal with putting their machine “back together” of the time wasted updating, nag screens etc etc.
    Yes CBs are not for everyone but I would guess 90+% could quite happily find they are perfect for their needs.

    1. Thanks for the response John. Unless you have need of, what I call high-end, software, a chromebook works perfectly without all the issues of Windows. I still have Windows 10 machine in my dinning room. Use to be the “family computer” but now it mostly runs my Plex server. Every now and again I’ll walk past it and see “Windows Couldn’t automatically Fix the error” screen.

      Arg.

      After working a few hours…then discovered it was no longer booting off the C drive, but only the “recovery” drive, I realized that the Master Boot Record was probably messed up. After repairing, it then boots…and says it is about 84% updated. So, as far as I can tell, the machine was doing an automatic update and something happened to the MBR, so when it rebooted, it went into repair mode…which it couldn’t do.

      Now _I_ knew what to do…but most people, parents, etc., would be freaked out by that and who knows what damage they would do, or what they would lose because of the MBR. This has happened at least twice.

      I’ve never had it happen it 4+ years on Chromebook. If something does go wrong…a powerwash, I think, takes less than 5 minutes. Wonderful!

  2. I too have made the switch to Chromebooks (boxes) and have converted two family members along with getting one for my son while in college. I agree the simplicity over Windows and the speed are unmatched. The lack of needing virus or malware protection is also a benefit not only in saving money but in taking up system resources.

    My biggest issue remains printing. While it works fine for me, I have a family member that seems to keep losing connectivity to their printer and they are not savvy enough to remember what they did to break the connection. Ideally, Chromebooks should allow printing directly through USB instead of Google ready printers or Wifi.

    The other issue is the limitations in certain applications. Quicken and other task specific applications are not always options for users or don’t provide specific functionality they need (want?). Sure, Chromebooks are not designed for high-end gaming or AutoCAD so my hope is that with the release of the Play store on certain devices this issue improves to the point I don’t have to tell folks they are making more compromises when switching over.

    If you come from Windows, you are going to have some adjustments when switching to a ChomeOS device and you have to weigh the features you like (Quicken, local storage, printing) to what a Chromebook can do better. Once I learned how to use ChromeOS, those adjustments go away and you’re left with all the good things.

    1. Yes, printing can be an issue. Since I had already purchased a Wifi printer, it wasn’t an issue for me. I also had Google Print setup for my office printer. I believe I read that Google was addressing the printing issues, so that will be nice.

      As for some of the other programs such as Quicken, I’ve heard some say they are moving to online options. If you are comfortable having your data on the internet, that is good option because you automatically get program updates without having to do anything locally. The down side is you may have to pay a subscription each month rather than a one-time fee.

      Perhaps Chromebooks aren’t perfect solutions…but neither are the alternatives. It’s hard to use Quicken when your machine has crashed because of a bad update. The goal may be to use the right tool for the right job. Chromebooks for most of our computing…and some other kind of PC for those applications that require it.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. I agree,

    Chromebooks are awesome, and can pretty much cover 75% of my tasks. I’ve bought the Toshiba CB version 2, and boy is that screen sweet to look at. Some might find the keyboard and touchpad not as robust as it could have been, but hey for the money… it is more than adequate. Once you get used to it, and learn the keyboard short-cuts, you get pretty productive on it.

    That being said, you might miss some of the full desktop features, but with some compromise in speed, that can easily be fixed with (crouton) Linux on the SD or internal SSD if you have the space for it. I’ve bought one of those super fast 64GB SD cards, (95MB/Sec rw) not as fast as an ssd, but at least 5 times faster than an av. laptop hard drive. I’ve installed 2 Ubuntu 14.04 LTS versions on it; one purely as LAMP server in CLI only, and a second install with a full desktop unity install. I would recommend to upgrade LibreOffice to the latest stable update (5.2) along with all the other tools you normally use. In my case, I including the HPlib printing and scanning drivers for to my wifi HP lj pro and HP envy all-in-one office printer (mainly for scanning). That way it easily solves the hurdle of printing in chrome through the cloud that at best is slow. Some day’s I’m in linux all day and other days mainly chrome OS.. I love this toshiba 2, a little under powered, I know but hey in return I get a fanless quiet machine that is perfectly quiet. (I hate those damn fans on a laptop that start hollering with the slightest request of performance)

    1. Great comment. For a while I ran a couple of different LInux installs off a USB and a SD Card. That was nice. I ended up installing Linux on my SSD…but now I’m running through a xiwi window which means I don’t have to leave ChromeOS at all. Not that big of a deal switching from ChromeOS to Linux though.

      For a lot of what I do, I find ChromeOS faster. Perhaps not faster if I compare it to when I first boot up my Windows 10 machine, but, it has an i5 in it. However, after a while the Windows machine begins to hesitate and slow down…and then another reboot…another 3 – 5 minutes getting back to where I was working. Frustrating.

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