06-25-2014, 03:07 AM
#1
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What do you do on your own personal laptop? Do you just check email, surf the web, stream movies, create and edit documents, and play a few generic games? If so, you might want to consider a Chromebook as your next computer.

Chromebooks are (usually) cheaper laptops that run Google's Chrome OS (instead of Linux, Windows, or OS X). This allows them to be light, cheaper and still perform really well......at what they do.

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This brings us to the Chromebook I think is the current champion: The Acer C720.

[Image: __C720_WOW_benefit_image_1.jpg]

This one combines the low price that makes Chromebooks attractive with excellent performance and great specs. It costs about $199 new.

Brief Specs:
Built-in dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Intel Celeron 2955U 1.4 GHz (Haswell micro-architecture)
2 GB RAM
16 GB Solid-State Drive
11.6-Inch Anti-Glare Screen, Intel HD Graphics
HDMI port, 8.5-hour battery life
Weight: 2.76 lbs

Of course, at this price you're going to get some compromises. The screen is good, but is not going to match with the top-line laptops and tablets, and the keyboard is great, but not quite as good as you get on the Macbook Air, for example. Also, the styling on this one is uninspiring.

However, there's a lot to like about it:

1) Bootup time is 7 s or less
2) Web browsing is FAST! I did an informal test against my wife's Macbook Pro that she bought about a year ago - both on the Chrome browser. The Chromebook loaded pages faster than the Macbook Pro.
3) Battery life really is good - the 8.5 h of usage time really is accurate (As long as you're not playing a lot of videos). Also, it charges from almost empty to full in just over an hour.
4) The computer is light, but not flimsy. The build is solid, the hinges are firm and the keyboard and mouse feel rather good.

I find that I can do pretty much anything on this Chromebook I usually do on a home/personal use laptop. I can surf the web and write emails, of course. I also can create and edit MS Word documents and spreadsheets (using the Office web interface). I can watch Netflix and listen to music.

The only thing I miss from this system is Skype, which I use to connect with my family (which is spread out around the world). There is a workaround to this, but that's not something everyone would be willing to try.

Note: You'll find other Chromebooks out there. The Samsung 11.6 is nice too. It looks a lot better than the Acer, but it has an Exynos processor and starts to stutter if you have more than a few tabs open in your browser. I know - I had one for several weeks.

Word to the wise: If you're getting a Chromebook, get one with an Intel processor.

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If you haven't considered a Chromebook before, think about it. A place like Best Buy will allow a 15 day no questions asked return, so you can always change your mind if you don't like it.

I really find my Chromebook to be more useful than a tablet, and it's a lot cheaper than the ultrabooks.

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 06-25-2014, 03:28 AM
#2
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Acer Chromebook at $199.00 replaced my 7 year old HP laptop when it died 3 weeks ago. Amazing value for what I use it for. Agreed!

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 06-25-2014, 10:47 AM
#3
  • freddy
  • Banned
  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
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It doesn't run Mac's OSX, a deal breaker right there. Sad

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 06-25-2014, 11:24 AM
#4
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(06-25-2014, 10:47 AM)freddy Wrote: It doesn't run Mac's OSX, a deal breaker right there. Sad

I like OS X. I prefer to run Linux (customized to my preferences), but OS X is certainly a great OS. However, for what I use a computer for at home, I think this Chromebook has OS X beat. The combination of the price (important), speed and interface makes it pretty hard to beat.......for what it does.

Chrome OS is limited in its abilities (when compared to a full-fledged OS). Within these limitations, it is pretty damn amazing.

Anyway, this OS is not going to meet everyone's taste. On moving to the Chromebook, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I did not miss anything on my Macbook Pro or my Win8 machines. That's why I started this thread.

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As an aside, I just read that Google is going to bring all the Android apps to Chrome OS. I'll be waiting to see how they implement that.

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 06-25-2014, 11:54 AM
#5
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It runs a *nix - and one that is reasonable open and free too.

In many ways the Chromebook is what the Netbooks - in particular the original Asus Eees* - wanted to be, however the Chromebook don't skimp on the quality and speed of the internals to bring the price down.

*) Still have - and occasionally use - one of the original 4G Eees... 7" screen, a blistering slow CPU, half a gig of RAM... but open, free and with a very lightweight OS it's plenty fast for light work.

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 06-25-2014, 12:23 PM
#6
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Hans - Yep, I knew that Chrome OS runs on the Linux kernel too. In fact, I've gone ahead and tweaked my system a bit already (running full Ubuntu).

However, that's beyond what most people will want to do with the computer, so I evaluated vanilla Chrome OS as it was installed on the Chromebook.

I also agree with you about the old Netbooks. I had one, and liked using it. I think I ran ArchLinux on it.

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 06-25-2014, 12:28 PM
#7
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Congratulations, Yohann! Smile

Ubuntu is definitely the best OS I have tried, to date. Good thing my brother is an IT person and maitains my computer. Biggrin

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 06-25-2014, 12:47 PM
#8
  • freddy
  • Banned
  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
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(06-25-2014, 12:23 PM)yohannrjm Wrote: Hans - Yep, I knew that Chrome OS runs on the Linux kernel too. In fact, I've gone ahead and tweaked my system a bit already (running full Ubuntu).

However, that's beyond what most people will want to do with the computer, so I evaluated vanilla Chrome OS as it was installed on the Chromebook.


I also agree with you about the old Netbooks. I had one, and liked using it. I think I ran ArchLinux on it.

Yohann and Hans, this is where I'm coming from. I'm hopeless when it comes to computers and their operating systems. I just want them to work without having to do much but turn the computer on and start typing. Windows is a nightmare compared to Mac's OSX so I'm loath to try anything else.

Also, Yohann, you mentioned how well the Chromebook does the basics. That is exactly what my iPad does for me at half the weight of the Chromebook you describe. When I fly somewhere, I do not have to dig out my iPad for security but I do for my old laptop (an Asus running Windows 7).

Please don't misunderstand, I am not trying to put down anything you've stated about the Chromebook but for my particular needs (and idiosyncrasies Rolleyes) the iPad is all I need, is amazingly easy to use, and is great for travel. Because you can do so much more with a computer, I can fully understand your enthusiasm for the Chromebook.

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 06-25-2014, 12:57 PM
#9
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Tablets are all well and good until you have a need to write more than a couple of short emails IMHO... you simply can't beat a proper keyboard for some tasks.

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 06-25-2014, 01:09 PM
#10
  • freddy
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  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
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(06-25-2014, 12:57 PM)WegianWarrior Wrote: Tablets are all well and good until you have a need to write more than a couple of short emails IMHO... you simply can't beat a proper keyboard for some tasks.

I absolutely agree with you, Hans. However, the only time I might have to do that type of writing is when I'm home and I have an excellent desktop model for that (iMac). It really comes down to necessity, I guess.

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 06-25-2014, 01:26 PM
#11
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Yep, this all comes down to what you do when you're on the computer. If you're only really doing media consumption, then a tablet works well (and, given that they generally have excellent displays, they are better than most laptops for that). I personally find even the lighter tablets to be a pain to use for a long time (while holding them). I prefer my phablet for that.

It also comes down to personal preference, as all things do.

Even for media consumption, I like having the ability to have a full adjustment of viewing angle when I'm watching a movie (for example). Most tablet covers only allow you a few angles at which you can prop them up. I know this sounds like a minor thing, but it irritates me a lot. And having a keyboard for typing is pretty much essential for me.

As you said Freddy, the purpose of this and other posts here is not to bash what someone else wants to use. Everyone has their own usage preferences. I just wanted to give the Chromebooks a shout-out, as I think they're pretty much perfect for most casual computing.

I also understand about wanting a system to 'just work'. In fact, I started looking into Chromebooks after seeing my mother in-law and her husband complaining about their laptops (massive Windows 7 desktop replacements). They have a tendency to click on any link that tells them to 'click here' - you can imagine what a state their computers are in.

I initially told them to buy Macs, but they were not willing to spend the money on them. So I thought I'd look the Chromebooks up, as they're cheap, light and quick, and also very simple to use (everything just works). It's also very secure and idiot-proof. If Skype worked, I'd immediately send them one to try out. As it is, asking them to learn how to use Google Hangouts will just not work.

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 06-25-2014, 01:30 PM
#12
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I'm an old school typist who likes the feel of the classic IBM/Apple Extended II clicky-clack keyboards. My current laptop has the typical dead feel to it so I'm always backspacing over missed keystrokes. I like running Linux Mint and will stick with that, but since I don't need the mobility of a laptop any more, my next computer will have an outboard monitor and keyboard, and I'll continue to use the laptop as a CPU until I need to upgrade processor and hard drive. And to think I started my career on a Mac.

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 06-25-2014, 01:36 PM
#13
  • tgutc
  • Senior Member
  • Michigan
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Nice review and very helpful for me. I'm in the market for a new laptop and a Chromebook would probably do everything I need it to.

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 06-25-2014, 01:46 PM
#14
  • freddy
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Yohann, it's funny you should mention Google Hangouts. A couple of months ago I got my first new cell phone (another smartphone) in almost four years, a Samsung Galaxy S5, and I am very happy with it. I was sitting in my coffeeshop last week when this strange sound came from my phone. It was Mike Perry sending me a text message. However, I just use the Messages app that's on the bottom of the phone. Mike's message, though, said it was a Google Hangout and I had the devil's own time finding it on the phone when I went back to look for it later in the day. I had never heard of Google Hangout before that and didn't even realize it was on the phone. Mike told me he was not using Google Hangout so I don't understand why it came through that way.

The built in messaging app works just fine and I use it with all my contacts so why muddy the waters? That's what I mean about simplicity and, boy, do I empathize with your mother-in-law and her husband. 24 How many messaging applications are really necessary? While it's fun to add apps that I check out, putting unnecessary apps on a phone is pointless. I believe this is called bloatware and all it does is tick me off.

In all fairness, the Chromebook does sound like something I could figure out. Also, I am trying to get a friend of mine to get a computer, any computer (Rolleyes ) and this might make a nice Christmas gift. Something to think about. I'll have to go to my local Best Buy and try one out. At $199.00, the price is certainly right.

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 06-25-2014, 02:07 PM
#15
  • CRAusmus
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Freddy if you come from a Mac OSX background adjusting to a Unix based system would not take you any time at all. I've been in one version or another of Mac OS ever since I started having a computer at my home, never had a windows machine in my house, and on a whim (and a price) I bought a net book with Ubuntu on it and fell in love. Granted, nothing replaces my Mac Book Pro, but Unix based systems (which is what OSX is built around) are incredibly stable and very user friendly.

The problem as I understand it with the Chromebook is that it has to have an internet connection for the OS to even finish booting. Course I could be wrong on that one, and if so please correct me.

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 06-25-2014, 03:00 PM
#16
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(06-25-2014, 02:07 PM)CRAusmus Wrote: .....

The problem as I understand it with the Chromebook is that it has to have an internet connection for the OS to even finish booting. Course I could be wrong on that one, and if so please correct me.

That's no longer true (apart from the initial setup). Also, there are several apps that will actually work offline (mostly word processing/productivity stuff). Still, it does get crippled if it's offline.

That may change once the ability to run Android apps is added.

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 06-25-2014, 04:46 PM
#17
  • CMur12
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  • Moses Lake, Washington State, USA
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Thanks, Yohann.

I've been looking for a small, wireless notebook to complement my desktop Windows machine, for some time. This sounds like it would be ideal, in function and in value. I'm assuming that the OS is fairly simple and straightforward for easy learning

How is anti-virus/anti-spyware handled on these machines? Is it part of a self-updating Chrome OS or does one still purchase separate software?

Thanks again -

- Murray

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 06-25-2014, 07:57 PM
#18
  • CRAusmus
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  • Going from Texas to Georgia
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(06-25-2014, 03:00 PM)yohannrjm Wrote:
(06-25-2014, 02:07 PM)CRAusmus Wrote: .....

The problem as I understand it with the Chromebook is that it has to have an internet connection for the OS to even finish booting. Course I could be wrong on that one, and if so please correct me.

That's no longer true (apart from the initial setup). Also, there are several apps that will actually work offline (mostly word processing/productivity stuff). Still, it does get crippled if it's offline.

That may change once the ability to run Android apps is added.

That's good to hear. Thanks for clearing that up.

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 06-25-2014, 10:50 PM
#19
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(06-25-2014, 04:46 PM)CMur12 Wrote: How is anti-virus/anti-spyware handled on these machines? Is it part of a self-updating Chrome OS or does one still purchase separate software?

Due to the way the OS is constructed, anti-virus isn't really needed - every webpage and applications runs in it's own little sandbox, which means that any virus or other nasty can't affect the rest of the machine.

It also means spyware can't really install on the machine (unless you as the user chooses to say "yes" to dodgy installers), so the usual array of AdBlockPlus, DoNotTrackMe, and Ghostery should keep you reasonable safe.

I recommend installing those three on your desktop / laptop as well... they are good and makes surfing safer, faster and with fewer ads Smile

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 06-25-2014, 10:54 PM
#20
  • CMur12
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Very useful information and very well explained. Thank you, Hans.

- Murray

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