Chrome OS

I have a confession to make: Chrome OS is my new toy. I have been a technology geek for a very long time. I remember learning in a computer lab on a Mac as early as first grade in Longview, TX.

Windows XP was a big part of that learning once I got a little older. I got pretty good at keeping our old Toshiba Satellite laptop and Sony Vaio desktop running smoothly. AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) was the way I learned to type faster. Naturally, I always wanted tech gifts from my parents. I loved checking the Sunday newspaper for Best Buy, Office Max, Office Depot, CompUSA and the electronics section of Target sale papers. CNET has been a favorite technology reviewer of mine for quite some time. Here are some of the devices I have owned over the years:

Nintendo Game Boy Color (Purple)

Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP (Onyx)

Buslink 128 MB MP3 Player (Megabytes?!?!?)

Sony MiniDisc Player (Black)

Apple iPod mini (Green 4 GB)

Apple iPod Video (5 Gen, 30 GB)

Apple iPod Touch (1st Gen, 8 GB)

Apple MacBook (Late 2008 unibody) - still running strong

Apple iPod Classic (120 GB)

Apple iPod Classic (160 GB)

Apple iPhone 4s (Black, 16 GB)

Amazon Kindle 3 (WiFi + Free 3G)

Apple iPad mini (Black 1st Gen, 16 GB)

Apple iPhone 5s (Space Gray, 16 GB)

Needless to say, I have enjoyed technology toys for a long time. My first MP3 player had 128 megabytes of storage. That is crazy to think about in 2015. As you can see, I am an Apple fan, but don't let that fool you; I like Google too. I know my way around iOS very well and I have experienced iOS since my iPod Touch several years ago. I have used some of the applications on my iPhone and iPad since the early days of iOS. Every student at Bethel University receives a laptop computer, so I had a MacBook and a PC laptop for the first two years. At one point, I decided that I wanted to try out Linux on the school laptop. I really enjoyed playing with Ubuntu. Google Chrome came in very handy when I was browsing between my two laptops, and it became even more handy when Chrome was released on iOS.

Acer Chromebook
Acer C720 Chromebook

I have been using Google Chrome since it was released in beta for OSX in late 2009. I was on the fence about Gmail until I really started using Chrome. It was really handy to have all of my bookmarks synced across my devices, no matter the operating system. So when Chromebooks were released to the public in 2011, I was intrigued. Chrome OS (Google Chrome Operating System) is really simple: if you can use a web browser, you can use Chrome OS. I did not take the plunge until later in 2014. I was thrilled to find a Groupon for a refurbished Acer 11.6" Chromebook at 129.99 + tax and free shipping. Chelsea really needed a new laptop, so I purchased it for her (She loved it so much, it was hard for me to play around on it very much). Since we purchased a refurbished Chromebook, we did not get the Google Goodies that you get when you purchase one new.

ASUS Chromebook
ASUS C300 Chromebook

My late 2008 MacBook is still running smoothly, but it is less portable and the battery life was never great to begin with. I found myself wanting a Chromebook. I often check Amazon for certain deals. The first one that caught my eye was an ASUS Chromebox for $134. This is a cool option to replace an old desktop computer or use as a media center in the living room, but I really wanted the mobility of a Chromebook. At the same time, ASUS had their 13.3" C300 Chromebook listed for $179.99. It retails for $249.99, so I was really intrigued. (I am enjoying writing this post on my new Chromebook). What really pushed me to the sale was the Google Goodies that were offered for the 2014 holiday season. Normally they offer 100 GB of Google Drive space free for two years; I got 1 TB of Google Drive space free for 2 years. At $9.99 a month, that is about $240 of savings over the two years.

Chrome OS isn't for everyone, but it is a cheaper option for web browsing and applications.

Top Reasons for Owning a Chromebook:

  1. Speed - Chrome OS is a lightweight operating system that is perfect for most people and it is quick.

  2. Simplicity - If you can use a web browser, you already know how to use Chrome OS.

  3. Affordability - Most Chromebooks and Chromeboxes are very affordable. Many are cheaper than tablets, and come with much more functionality. The Chrome Pixel is the exception when it comes to price.

  4. Portability - My MacBook is so much heavier and not as travel friendly. My Chromebook will be my go to travel companion.

  5. Battery Life - My ASUS Chromebook lasts ten hours (10 hours!) with extensive use. My MacBook lasts two (2).

  6. Security - Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft. You are very likely to get a virus. You will not run into this problem with Chrome OS, because it is always up-to-date when it is online.

  7. Google Drive - Forget Dropbox, iCloud Drive and USB thumbdrives. If you aren't using Google Drive and Gmail, you should start that today. Google Docs are a great FREE alternative to Microsoft Office.

The Drawback to Chrome OS:

  1. iTunes - If you are used to making CDs and manage your music from a computer, you will still need a computer at home with iTunes or other software. Google Play will host 20,000 of your song for free, so you might look into using both.

  2. Photo Editing software - Full functioning Adobe Photoshop is not going to work on Chrome OS. I use GIMP on my MacBook, but the web application that they have for Chrome is much slower, and I will use my MacBook when I need a more high-powered photo editing application.

  3. Video Editing - Again, this is a lightweight browser. There is nothing lightweight about video or audio editing.

  4. Google Ecosystem - Personally, I like what Google does, but if you are not a fan, you probably shouldn't have read this far in the post. I have never owned an Android phone, but I have synced all of my contacts and calendars with Gmail since I have owned a smartphone.

  5. Update: 3/10/15 - Printing from an old printer requires another computer connected to Google Cloud Print. It works well, but can be tricky to set up.

Update: 3/10/15 - In an effort of full disclosure: I returned my ASUS Chromebook because I was not pleased with the trackpad. Chelsea and I still enjoy using the Acer Chromebook and I recently purchased an Acer Chromebox for email and such at work.

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Pro tip: Pair a Chromebook with Chromecast and you have a great way to stream anything online to your TV without wires.