Monday, 29 October 2012

New Chromebook £230. Is it worth it?

I am a student and my course is basically on the web. All my lecture notes and assignments are on the web. I use Google Drive and Skydrive (for office 2013). I practically live in a browser so I thought of getting a chromebook. I have been waiting for a cheap version but the series 5 was very expensive. But now with the ARM processor, it is cheaper than any netbook. And if anyone has bought a netbook, they know how slow it has become in a year. I was first sceptical about buying this but for £230, I will chuck it on the student loan.
Firstly, anyone who tries compares this to a Macbook Air, just stop now! It is not going to replace the Macbook because a Macbook has programmes for the media student that is not comparable.
So to start this review, I have bought the Chromebook from PC World and used it for nearly a week. It is very light and very portable. Perfect for the student who has to travel. It boots in 8 seconds and wakes from sleep instantly. The only problem with these statistics is that it takes a few seconds to connect to the internet after it has awoken. I have tested this on my BT infinity WiFi, Starbucks free WiFi, and tethering through my Galaxy Note through 3G and this connection delay happens on all of them. But compared to my laptop, it is a lightning quick boot. And my laptop has a i3 processor and 8gb RAM.
If you have used the chrome browser, you have basically used Chrome OS. There is not much to say about the OS except it is light, quick, and has a nice UI. A few Google apps pinned to the task bar including Google Drive and YouTube. Everything is in a browser window so it is easy. The Chrome Web Store is very good indeed, has very nice offline apps and online apps. But they are basically bookmarks. I have used the feedly app lots and Drive.
The main thing is the hardware. The only Macbook Air comparison is the size. They are about the same size including thickness but the thick end of the Air is the same thickness of the Chromebook all the way through. It has a nice raised keyboard that is lovely and comfortable to type on but is not backlit. I never thought this would be a problem but when you are working at night in your room, you definitely need it. Also the keyboard has special keys on the top row. These include back, forward, refresh, full screen and more which are handy in this browser based OS. Also there is no caps lock. This has been replaced by a search key where you can search apps and Google directly which is handy. The overall design is very nice too. Not too netbook like but not too Air like. It is their own thing which is nice.
Spec Time. It has a dual core Exynos 5 processor and 2GB of RAM which is more than enough. 11.6 inch screen which you can watch 720p videos. USB 3 and 2 even though the UK has very little USB 3 usage. And it has a 16GB SSD. That may sound like a very small amount of storage but you are storing on the cloud all the time. Unless you are not connected to the internet and using Google docs offline. But you get 100GB free on Google Drive. There is a catch, the storage only lasts 2 years.But what you store on there, after the 2 years it does not get cancelled. You just cant upload more unless you pay the monthly fee which is all in US dollars.

So should you buy it? If you can live in the browser or you live mostly in the browser and you want a cheap solution for a second computer and want a tablet; Buy it now! It is a great investment and it will work well for years to come.
So what are you waiting for? Buy it now!

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