Chromebook Diaries: Part 1, an experiment
There is no doubt that there is an incredible amount of excitement around the Chromebook, Google’s answer for an inexpensive, managed platform for putting computers in the hands of the masses. I’ll admit, I was initially very curious, and have before today purchased two different ChromeOS devices, including the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook (now a very slow platform despite the great form factor) and the developer edition of the Samsung Series 5 Chromebox that I purchased off of eBay from an attendee of Google I/O.
These purchases, however, were really not intended to be fulltime machines. I used them to test websites on the platform and as an occasional amusement. They were great for light email reading, engaging with web apps like Google Reader, Google Drive and third party web apps like Freshbooks.
As my original Chromebook slowed down update after update, I stopped using it, even as an alternative machine, as it wasn’t fast enough to meet my needs.
Enter stage right… opportunity
Two weeks ago, disaster struck! My trusted MacBook Air, a computer that has literally followed me around the world like a faithful pet, met its untimely death at the hands of a cup of joe:
It is official, in the battle between coffee and my MacBook Air, coffee wins. 🙁
— Jason Neiffer (@techsavvyteach) April 15, 2014
While it was earlier than I intended, I knew that I needed to have a replacement machine ASAP. As a leader in my state’s virtual school, my laptop was very much my workplace… I need it to function.
I strongly considered ordering up a new MacBook Air, but, a visit to the MacRumours “Buyer’s Guide” told me to wait
The MacBook Air is due for an update, likely this summer. I am happy to wait until then to get the latest and greatest, but, I still need something day-to-day.
I strongly considered a Surface Pro 2 tablet, wanting to become more familiar with Windows 8 and liking the form factor. However, the price for the model I want (Surface Pro 2 with 256gb of RAM) was just out of reach for me.
I decided ultimately on a ChromeBook. For me, the platform made sense:
- A good percentage of my work is in the Cloud, as I use Google Docs, Moodle and a cloud-based SIS for my day job.
- For the few times I need the full-blown Microsoft Office Suite, there is a sweet plugin that places Word Online directly in Chrome.
- With the rise of Chromebooks in schools, I really wanted to see my programs tools in a modern Chrome environment.
After a lot of research, I decided on the Dell Chromebook 11, which is directly aimed at the education market. My priority was an Intel chip, a minimum of 4gb of RAM and a decent battery life. The Dell seems to meet these tests, and has the added benefit of being referred to as a candidate for “the best Chromebook ever.”
So, my mission: try to use the Chromebook at my primary laptop. Let me be 100% clear that this will NOT be my primary technology access. I have Mac desktops at both home and work, along with a variety of other random devices in both locations. However, I do use my laptop as a regular access point, so, I presume this will be a good test for me.
I will blog about it here. Are you curious how it handles under certain conditions? Hit us up below in the comment section and ask. I’d love to share!
I was curious if Word Online does for you what you need it to. On a quick spin, it doesn’t seem better than Google Docs.
One of the features I don’t like about Google Docs is that when working with a table, I cannot merge cells. I can’t seem to do this with Word Online, which makes me think it is quite a bit scaled back from a non-online version. Similarly, Word Online doesn’t have “Symbol” font, which I use for typing the pi symbol (I’m a math teacher), and this is a problem I have with Docs, also.
Finally, at least Docs has an equation editor, where Office Online does not.
Yes, learning about Chromebooks is timely right now.
Hi Jill: Thanks for your comments. These are the kind of questions that I am hoping to answer as well.
I have fairly low-grade needs in a word processor (although I am current writing my doctoral dissertation, which is starting on Google Docs, which I hope isn’t a mistake I will pay for later) but also feel as though both platforms are missing one or two critical items for me.
I am working on some blog posts right now on my first impression on going Chrome full-time on mobile and one of the first issues I have run into is attempting to utilize Word-based forms in Word Online. My organization’s budget manager has created a handy set of forms for a number of internal financial purposes and almost all of them are broken in Word Online and tell me to download it to the desktop version.