On using a Chromebook as my main computer

May 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve been using a Samsung Chromebook as my main (personal) computer since January of this year. I decided to try this experiment after looking at what I was using my Windows laptop for. My computing use at home boiled down to a few key things:

  • Email (I use gmail as my main account, but every email address I have can be accessed via the web in some form or fashion)
  • Social Networks (G+, Twitter, Facebook)
  • News and other general surfing
  • Photo storage and basic editing
  • Music storage

I documented my switch to cloud based services in my previous post, and since I’ve made the switch to a Chromebook, the biggest difference I’ve noticed is that I’m less willing to lug my DSLR with me when I go places. Part of this is because it eats batteries, part is because it’s big and bulky, and part of it is because I have to physically plug it in to our HTPC in order to get photos off it, or take out the SD card, put it in the Chromebook, then upload everything to dropbox.

Like I said before, I’m incredibly lazy, and because the camera technology in my phone is as good or better than the little point and shoot Canon I loved so much 8 years ago, I’m perfectly content to take photos with my phone and have them automatically upload to dropbox and G+. Although I love the photos I take with my DSLR, it just isn’t convenient to take it places and have to keep track of it.

So other than that change, my computing habits have remained basically unchanged. I’ve been able to work around file downloads and viewing, as the Chrombook will open all office documents (for viewing), and if I REALLY need to edit something in Word or Excel, I can use CloudOn on my phone, or convert them to Google docs and edit them that way.

The only thing I would change at this point is that I’d like a slightly larger screen. The 12″ Chromebook, I think, is the ideal size for people like me, whose eyesight is starting to get bad. With the 11″, I find myself constantly having the increase the text size, or reach for my glasses. The 14″ HP Chromebook is a great size, but a little more heavy than what I like for ultra-portability. The 12″ Samsung Chromebook strikes a nice balance between screen size and portability, but the price is a little bit out of reach. I think a 12″ Samsung with an ARM processor to bring the price down would hit the sweet spot and be the ultimate take-it-everywhere laptop.

For what it’s worth, I have pretty much stopped carrying my iPad and Kindle Fire. The iPad I leave beside the bed because I like to read Flipboard in the evenings or read books, but at $500, it’s not worth it for only that. If flipboard was available as a Chrome app, I would have no reason to have either tablet anymore.

At work, I still use a Windows box, which I actually wouldn’t mind giving up for a chromebox if we’d have a few key pieces in place, like remote access to other computers in the district, and the ability to get into Active Directory. I honestly think that Chrome OS could actually be a viable replacement for much of what we do in a school district, and the cost compared to other alternatives is definitely a game winner. If only we could get those darn IT people to let go a little bit (full disclosure – I oversee all of the technicians in our district, so I AM the IT people).

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