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Friday, December 19, 2014

New Tech - Episode Four

I've only had my Chromebook for a couple of weeks; but I'd never look back...

Here's my story so far...


I bought an Amazon Fire TV; switched to Android, with my HTC One M8 and bought a Chromecast.
The next purchase was a must have; to consolidate the Android/Google goodness.

I bought a Chromebook…

It's dinky, light-weight, and following trials of only using web-based applications, this has replaced my Samsung laptop.

As many have done, I thought I’d share my thoughts and reasons for moving from Windows to Chromebook; as well as give a short review of the Acer C720.

First things first… why move?

Windows has been my mainstay since day one (I’ve never been a MacPerson) so I’ve been very used to doing things their way.  Using Word, Excel, PowerPoint - all the usual.

Then along came Chrome; the browser.  I was an early adopter, got stuck straight in and never looked back (Internet Explorer what???) 

However, with Windows comes great responsibility… and cost.  Upgrades involve either buying a new laptop / desktop, or paying for the software designed to run on a machine far superior to the one you have!

Then there’s the applications.  Most of them cost serious money; others less so, but for a trade-off.  Not including anti-virus; which is a must on Windows.

All in all; running a Windows based machine is not a cheap experience; and now so many apps have good web presence, it seemed the time for change had come.

Not one for Apple (I don’t agree with their walled garden approach) the other alternative was a Chromebook.

Really! What took me so long?  I have been working in “the cloud” for a while; testing various apps using their web versions, to see how I got on.  I even wrote an article just over a year ago about Living The Online Life. It just took me a little longer to make the jump.

All I can say is that I am very pleased I have.  This Acer C720 is truly terrific.  It might not be the best in terms of spec; I have the 2Gb version, the screen isn’t exactly a retina display, but I don’t need that.  I open it up, and in less than a couple of seconds I’m off and running.  

I have 1Tb of storage, courtesy of an offer with Google, and it’s so portable I don’t even need a tablet!
Yes, it feels a little plasticky and the camera isn’t the greatest (I haven’t used it yet anyway) but it cost me less than £160…. yes, you read that right.  On sale at £180 with a further £20 voucher offer by the retailer, it cost me £160….

With my account sync’d across all devices, my bookmarks appeared, my apps appeared and it runs just beautifully.  I had a little trouble connecting with Google Cloud Print - but that was resolved by resetting the printer back to factory settings and registering it again.

My only gripe is with scanning.  It appears that I can only scan one page at a time, saved as individual files; rather than scanning a document as a whole.  Maybe it’s out there and I’ve still to find it - but it’s not a showstopper.

There’s a 16Gb solid state drive, for the small amount of memory you might need; a card-reader for SD card expansion, a couple of USB ports for plugging in an external drive and there's a headphone / microphone socket and webcam.

The ChromeOS software updates automatically, in the background.  You won’t even notice.
Those updates are free!  There’s virtually no chance of a virus; so no anti-virus required locally.

If you’re reading this, thinking about whether to get a Chromebook, then think no more.  If you appreciate that it’s designed to work with cloud-based services (and let’s face it, you rarely use your tablet unless it’s connected) then you’ll get along fine.

Having said that; there are a number of apps that allow you to work offline.  Google Drive is a prime example - I’m writing this on Docs, whilst sitting on the train.  You can also sync Gmail to work offline too (with a separate app).

Am I pleased to have moved away from my huge, heavy Samsung laptop, that takes ages to boot and is sluggish in performance?  You bet I am.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

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