Chromebook Diaries, Part 2: initial hardware experiments


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[This part of my series on attempting to go Chromebook only as a mobile platform.  See details about my experiment here.]

I am nearing the end of my first week with the Dell Chromebook 11, the Chromebook I am using for at least the next two months as my primary mobile computing platform.  I did spend some time researching the various options, and considered everything from the yet-to-be-released (and now delayed) Samsung Chromebook 2 to the beautifully designed 11″ and 14″ HP Chromebook line.

I ultimately decided on the Dell because of its Intel processor, 4gb RAM option and rugged build look.  I was also persuaded by the media that suggested that this model was “best for education” (although, really does that even mean?).

On hardware only, here are my initial reactions:

Awesome!

The Dell Chromebook has amazing built quality.  While the build is very plastic, it feels great in the hand and is light without feeling cheep.  The screen is edge-to-edge glass and while I still don’t like the 1366×768 resolution on platform, the screensize seems good enough here to be an effective mobile tool.

The ports are fine: two USB ports, an SD card slot and an HDMI out.

I do wish there was an a display port, mini display port or VGA port to allow for easier external display disport.

The HDMI port is very functional however.  I wasn’t able to get it to work with our office conference television, but, I did set up with an older monitor with HDMI in.  I was able to put together a functional standing workstation using the Chromebook as a base.

Here is my Chromebook docking station.  I could probably use some wire management.  :)

Here is my Chromebook docking station. I could probably use some wire management. 🙂

The hardware is speedy, which I attribute to the Intel chip and 4gb of RAM.  I regularly have 5+ windows open and there has been no real sluggishness to report.

The battery life is also amazing.  I have been reliably getting 9+ hours for each charge.  This beats my previous platform (MacBook Air 11″/2012) and rivals what I am able to get from my iPad mini.

Meh!

So far, it has been mostly upsides but there are certainly downsides to consider.

First, there is a lot of noise on the Internet about the fan noise with this specific model.  I haven’t noticed this, either using it in docking mode (which might require more processing power to run the larger monitor) or using it as a laptop.  I also haven’t noticed it running too warm or hot either.

Second, I have also seen a number of references to the display, both the resolution and the the quality.  While I agree that the 1366×768 resolution isn’t my preference, that is really standard for notebooks, netbooks, and ultrabooks at this size.  More importantly, there are some emerging Chromebooks that brag about 1090p resolution, which I am sure looks great, but, I worry about the trade-off with battery life and speed.

Overall

Overall?  I’m impressed.  This is a well-built, speedy platform for the ChromeOS.  It is comfortable to use, and while it isn’t made of the premium materials that I would expect with a platform like Apple or a high end Lenovo machine, it is built well enough to put up with even heavy use.

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