The mighty chromebook smackdown

November 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

Look, maybe I’m being a total Google fanboy here, but I’m having this argument over on G+ and I feel like I have to explain myself. I know I’m coming across like a jerk, but here’s the thing. If you’re going to say that a certain device (in this case, a chromebook) isn’t a worthwhile device to have, and wonder why in the world anyone would buy it, you’d better have your arguments ready to go if you’re going to mouth off about it.

I should know. I go through the same thing with Apple fanboys every time I bash iPads.

So now it’s my turn. The tech-punditry are smearing chromebooks, and I’ve found that, for me anyway, the arguments against chromebooks fall flat. I’m also tired of the misconceptions and the “it won’t do xyz” so when someone said in a post on G+ that chromebooks don’t do xyz, I guess I went a little “Falling Down” and cut loose, throwing the Chromebook smackdown at this poor, unsuspecting soul.

You can see the entire conversation here, but basically, it went like this:

He said: “The problem with Chromebook is that it covers 90% of day to day activities for most people, but then these pesky 10% really making you bite you elbows.
Maybe in a few years it will mature enough to cover most people needs though.”

And I said, ” the 10% is probably out there in the cloud somewhere, it’s just that the people complaining about it are too lazy to look for it.”

Then he gave me a list of things that he didn’t know if a chromebook could do, thus proving my point that he hadn’t bothered to look to see if it could be done. Here’s the list (and whether he thought a chromebook could or couldn’t do it):

– web browsing (Chromebook does it)
– printing to network printer (Chromebook doesn’t do that)
– downloading torrents (not sure if Chromebook does it)
– Skype calls (Chromebook doesn’t do that)
– downloading ebooks, conventing formar uploading to Kindle and Nook (not sure if Chromebook does it)
– creating presentations in PowerPoint saving to flashdrive for offline access (not sure if possible with Chromebook)
– uploading music to iPod using iTunes (not sure if possible with Chromebook)
– accessing some IE-only sites (corporate)
– editing graphics in Gimp (what’s a good cloud alternative?)
– uploading photos from camera (DSLR) to Google+  using Picasa (is it possible with Chromebook?)
– DJing (using Traktor)
– Scanning documents

The last four items, he added after I made my initial response, which was this:

-Printing to network printer – if you have it set up through cloud print, it will do it. You just have to have those printers set up on another machine that you sign in to Chrome with. But, by the way, if you use Google Docs, you don’t really need to print out documents because you can share them directly from your Google drive.
– Skype calls – you’re right…it doesn’t do skype, but it does do Google Hangouts, which IMHO is better than skype – screen sharing, multiple people in the conversation, etc..
– Torrents – add the uTorrent extension for Chrome.
– Kindle cloud reader, but if you’re looking for a converter, try zamzar. You can then email the converted file to your kindle’s email address. No physical connection necessary.
– Powerpoints can be converted to Google Presentations and viewed via the web, or downloaded as a ppt, PDF and a variety of other formats.
– IE tab chrome extension will work for the vast majority of web sites that require IE (yes, I have tried it)
So, the ONLY thing here that a chromebook can’t do is upload music to an iPod. However, if you have an android device, you can transfer music to it, or use Google Play music to stream your music from the cloud.

Now, if you’re stuck on the name-brand stuff, I can’t help you, but there are plenty of alternatives to accomplish virtually all of the things you’ve thrown out here. I admit, I still have a PC, but it serves as the family media center. I use it to organize my photos and keep a backup copy of my music (which automatically uploads to Google Music any time I purchase something new from a service other than Google). But like I said, the chromebook is my daily driver. I even use it to remote in to my Windows servers at work to do updates. I purchased the Chrome RDP app to do that, and if I ever need to use the family PC, I use Chrome Remote Desktop to remote into that one.

Did I come across as a snob? Probably. But he also totally proved my initial point, which was that the other 10% of things people think chromebooks can’t do is actually out there, you just have to go looking for it. Obviously, he hadn’t.

And I’ll be honest, there are some things that a chromebook can’t do. Those things just happen to be so few and far between for me that spending the extra money on a heavy, full windows laptop ($1000 MacBook wasn’t even in the equation) just didn’t make sense. For the portability and price, I think the chromebook is a great value. Would I buy one for $450? Not a chance, and I said as much when they first came out. But Samsung and Google hit the sweet spot on price and specs last year when the ARM based Samsung Series 3 chromebook came out. The HP 11 hits the same spot, as do both Acer models.

As for education, I think the chromebook is a great device for students. The one thing I hear a lot about iPads is that kids have a hard time doing research and writing papers because there’s no mouse and keyboard. Those two simple things make a big difference when you’re trying to do research and write a paper, and the chromebook has both at half the cost of an iPad.

By the way, I just cut the PO on our first chromebook purchases here in La Vernia today.

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