So I recently got a new Chromebook. If you do not know what a Chromebook is, it is basically a laptop that can run Chrome browser + some more. I was at a Best Buy recently, and saw a nice little white colored plastic computer under the Google logo. It was the Acer CB3-111 that had Intel Baytrail processor and 2GB of Ram. The specs were nothing to be proud of, however after a few minutes of usage I decided to get it for myself. Here is what I love about it:
- Battery Life: This is one of the biggest reason that got me to buy a Chromebook. The label on the one I bought said it had a battery life of 8 hours, which I was kind of skeptical about. However after bringing it home and using it, I was easily able to get that 8 hours even in full brightness with moderate to heavy usage. With medium brightness (full brightness is too bright), I was able to get around 10-14 hours which was insane for a computer. When I bought my other computer, a Lenovo U530 which had an advertised battery life of 10 hours, I was highly disappointed when in real life usage I got only around 2 hours, so the Chromebook’s battery life was a big surprise to me.
- Trackpad and Gestures: This is one of the most underrated features of most Chromebooks. The trackpad on my Acer CB3 is big and tracks movements and gestures very good. This is the only thing close to Macbook’s trackpad that I have seen on the market. The gestures to switch tabs and go back and forth work really well and I have been a lot more productive since I started using them.
- Speed: I am sure people are going to argue with me on this one, but this Chromebook is blazing fast. Even though it has a nifty little Intel Celeron N2830 processor which does not do that well in benchmarks, I was surprised to see how well it did in real life. I never experienced any lags or delays even when I had 30+ tabs open at once. Even 1080p videos played nice and smooth and I could do pretty much everything I did on the other computer easily without no lags or delays, everything just worked.
- Concept of Cloud: As someone who uses Google services for a lot of things, this Chromebook made me feel at home. Google Drive just worked, my email with Google Apps just worked, and pretty much everything I did on my other computer which is a lot more powerful just worked without a lot of configuration. As soon as i signed in to Chrome, my extensions, password, bookmarks and history just synced over right away. Everything I did was online, and I never felt like I missed out on anything because of Chrome OS. I am a developer and initially I bought this thinking it would be useful for on the go stuff, taking notes at college, and generally accessing things on the go, but recently I have started developing on it. Yes, you read that right, I started developing on a Chromebook. If you are an Android Developer, or lets say Windows Mobile developer, this is oviously not going to work for you. But for a full stack web developer, all I needed to get my development going on a Chromebook was download this SSH Client for Chrome and setup a virtual server from a VPS provider like Nexim Web Hositng for developement. Then I just SSH’d into the box and used Vim for development. Oviously you can use online IDE’s like Koding or Nitrous.IO or Cloud9, however since I used to use Vim for the task before I even got the Chromebook, I did not have to change anything.
- Applications and Extensions: When I was using Windows or even Ubuntu, I had to go looking around the web for the right tool to use and had to try a bunch of stuff before finding out which worked the best for me. Chrome OS solves this by making all the applications available on the Chrome Web Store just like in Android or iOS. Being able to see reviews and and comments on the apps really helps, and the best rated and recommended app shows up on the top of the search list which is a huge plus. I needed an app to remotely connect to my server, and found a couple of RDP clients that just worked. Even though Chrome Web Store is relatively new, the number of applications available is growing everyday and I haven’t had trouble finding anything I wanted on the web store. If I have to run Windows applications, I just connect to my Windows computer using Chrome remote access and use it just like it was using my the other computer itself.
Overall, I am very happy with my purchase and I feel like with the upcoming support for Android applications it is going to get even better. All companies are moving their services to the web (even Microsoft moved Office to the web recently) and Chromebooks are the perfect thin clients for the web that just work. They are definitely not for everyone but for I feel like they would be suitable for a large number of people that just need a browser for their tasks. With the variety of specs and options available for Chromebooks nowadays, finding the perfect one to suite your needs is not going to be a difficult task.