After using a Chromebook almost daily since December 30th, 2014 I’ve discovered how awesome they can truly be. Now I already owned a MacBook Air and a Windows 8 PC but wanted to see what all the fuss over Chromebooks was about. As discussed in my previous post ‘My Chromebook Experiment’ I purchased the Asus c300 Chromebook after having so much success with Asus when buying a PC and that it was $50 cheaper than the Toshiba Chromebook 2.
About a month and a half later I’ve become really accustomed to using a Chromebook as my daily computer. I’ve found that I can do almost everything with a Chromebook that I could with a Mac or PC. For the limitations I do come across I have been using my MacBook Air. You have to remember that a Chromebook, while it can do a lot of things it can’t be your only computer if you need to run programs and software locally on your computer.
What a Chromebook can do?
Create and edit documents, spreadsheets and slides
The easiest way to create and edit documents, spreadsheets and slide presentations is to use Google Drive which allows you to store and save the work you do in Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms. If you want to use Microsoft Office you can, albeit an online version offered through One Drive that gives you access to versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote with limited features.
Surf the web, watch videos, stream music
Since a Chromebook is built around the Google Chrome web browser you can imagine it performs very well when it comes to surfing the web. I tend to have a lot of tabs open and multi-task a lot with what I’m working on and my Chromebook seems to handle this quite well.
Watching videos on YouTube and sites like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon also works very well and almost never has a problem during playback except for a small stutter that doesn’t happen too often.
When I want to listen to music I stream my music collection that I have stored on Amazon Music or I stream my favorite radio stations. It seems to be that the stuttering happens for the most part when I’m streaming music and have 6-8 tabs open. As it happens so quick and only happens once or twice a day depending on how long I use the computer for I don’t really get bothered by these small glitches.
Edit pictures with Pixlr Editor
Save and backup media to usb devices like a Flash drive or an external hard drive
Print using Google Cloud Print
What a Chromebook can’t do?
Install and run programs and software
This is where my MacBook Air comes into play. Before using a Chromebook I used iTunes on a daily basis to listen to my music but since Chromebooks don’t have enough space for all my music and can’t run iTunes I uploaded my music to Amazon and can stream it on amazon.com. When I want to buy new music I buy MP3s through Amazon instead of iTunes. When I need to use iTunes to sync music to my iPhone I just decide to use my MacBook Air that day.
The other program I need to use my MacBook Air for is Kodak All-in-One Printer Home Center when I need to use my printer to scan a document or photo to my computer. Now if I just want to print something I can still use my Chromebook because I set up my printer for use with Google Cloud Print.
I usually end up using my MacBook Air about once or twice a month so I can use iTunes to transfer my song purchases to my iPhone. I don’t always get around to it though because I can access my newest music on my iPhone with the Amazon Music app.
Store all your media locally on the hard drive
Since most Chromebooks come with a 16 or 32GB flash storage drive it doesn’t leave you much space at all to store music, photos and files. That’s what your Google Drive is for. You are encouraged to store everything in the cloud with such little storage offered locally.
Now that I’ve covered what a Chromebook can and cannot do I will try to explain what Asus has done on top of the basics to improve a Chromebooks functionality.
Asus c300 Chromebook features:
Long battery life
After fully charging it the battery life easily lasts 10 hours. It would probably last even longer if I decreased the brightness of the screen I’m sure I could most likely get another couple hours. Most of the time I can get two days out of the battery life if I use the computer for 5 hours a day. On the third day I will plug it in and it fully charges after only 1 and a half hours to 2 hours of being plugged in. I’m very impressed with the battery life and now when I use my MacBook Air I’m annoyed how it goes from 100% charged to 5% after only 3 hours of use.
Largest touchpad available on a Chromebook
Since I’ve never used any other Chromebook I wouldn’t know how the touchpad compares to other Chromebooks or if it really is the largest available; that’s just what Asus states. As for how it stacks up to a MacBook Air or Windows 8 PC touchpad it’s more responsive than what a PC offers but still not as great as a MacBook Air. Basically it’s not the worst when it comes to responsiveness but it could be better in the clicking and dragging area.
When you play music or anything with audio without headphones you will have to turn it all the way up and silence your surroundings in order to hear it. Otherwise you will be straining to hear what you’re trying to listen to. That is why using headphones to listen to audio is your best solution and it doesn’t seem to be very fussy when it comes to using any brand of headphone unlike Apple products. Whether I’m using my $10 JVC Gumy Earbuds or my $99 Bose Earbuds the audio sounds very nice and gets even better when I use the Bose ones that have a better range.
Ultra thin and light
At just 3 pounds it is very light to pick up and move compared to most Windows Laptop PCs that I’ve owned which weighed around 10 pounds and up.
Larger than Average Screen size
When researching Chromebooks I found that most of them had 11.6 inch screens and if you wanted the bigger 13.3 inch size you would need to pay more for it. Since I was accustomed to 13.3 inch I wanted to stick with it. The standard size for Acer, HP and Samsung was 11.6 and the 13.3 models were sometimes $100 or more. Then you have Asus and Toshiba who both sell affordable 13.3 inch Chromebooks. Now in 2015 Acer will be the first to sell a 15.6 inch model; this will most definitely inspire the other brands to make a 15.6 inch Chromebook too. I’ve found the perfect size Chromebook for me is right in the middle, 13.3.
100GB of Google Drive space free for 2 years
When you purchase a new Chromebook and log onto your Google Drive with it, it will automatically claim your free 100GB of space. Now since I bought mine during the holiday season I got 1TB of space free for 2 years because Google was giving away more for the holidays.
Asus c300 full specifications:
Intel Bay-Trail Dual Core Celeron Processor
Chrome operating system
13.3 inch 16:9 HD Display
16GB eMMC flash storage
HD Web Camera
1 x audio jack
1 x USB 3.0 port
1 x USB 2.0 port
1 x SD card reader
1 x AC adapter plug
13.0 x 9.1 x 0.9 inch (WxDxH)
As you can see depending on what you need to do with a computer a Chromebook can be a very useful device and possibly even a computer replacement if you don’t need to do anything locally. The thing that got me to seriously consider a Chromebook in the first place was that unlike a MacBook Air, where you have to download and install updates leading you to have to babysit your computer all day and make sure the update is going right, you don’t have to mess with updates as Google takes care of those. When I first bought a Chromebook I never expected to be able to do all the things with it I do, especially being able to update this blog. As a matter-of-fact I wrote this whole post on my Chromebook with the help of Google Docs and Drive. If you’ve been contemplating buying a Chromebook but don’t know if you’d be wasting your money just remember if you already do everything in the Chrome browser anyways you’ll feel right at home with a Chromebook.