The Chromebook has been with us since the end of 2010, when Google introduced a prototype of the new form factor that was never put up for sale. In 2011 the first commercial Chromebook devices showed up, and these have done reasonably well ever since. There are more affordable Chromebooks on the way, but Google surprised almost everybody when it took the wraps off of the not-affordable-to-most Chromebook Pixel.
The Pixel is a high-end Chromebook that most reviewers have raved about….while advising all and sundry not to buy one. The problem is the price tag of $1,299, which seems a lot for hardware (albeit high quality hardware) running Chrome OS and based almost entirely in the cloud.
The Chromebook Pixel, and its lower-priced brethren, was the subject up for discussion in last week’s We Ask You column.
We asked you, What Do You Think Of The Chromebook? The response was very good, with dozens of you sharing your views on the Chromebook Pixel, the Chromebook form factor, and Chrome OS. The range of opinions varied from those who totally get the idea behind the project, to those who think it’s an utter waste of time and money.
As always with the We Ask You column it’s recommended you thoroughly peruse the previous comments thread. This is the only way to see the full discussion in order to make your own mind up how the MakeUseOf readership feels about the subject at hand. What follows is merely a brief summing up of the points made.
For: Those who like the Chromebook cite the following as reasons: The convenience, accessibility, and speed. It’s a natural fit for those who already use Google apps and services. Most software has an online alternative. The low price (excepting the Chromebook Pixel). Great battery life.
Against: Those who dislike the Chromebook cite the following as reasons: Google, its advertising practices, and possible monopoly. The need to be online almost all of the time. The affordability of tablets. There’s no market for such a device, especially with Android already so successful.
Danny recently reviewed the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook, and anyone seriously interested in purchasing one should definitely give his thoughts on the device a read.
Comment Of The Week
We had great input from the likes of Hasitha Prabath, Sean Concannon, and Nikos Tafralidis, to name just a few. Comment Of The Week goes to Victor Ong, who, as well as the respect of myself and hopefully everybody reading this, receives 150 points to use for MakeUseOf Rewards.
I think that the chromebook is a great piece of equipment. Many people would have qualms about the fact that you need constant internet connectivity, that it’s not as powerful as a laptop, and that it’s not as functional as a full-fledged laptop. However, a closer look at the function of the chromebook will show that these limitations are not limitations at all.
Firstly, the constant internet connectivity problem. While critics will say that this is a HUGE issue, it really isn’t that much of a big deal. Internet connections are absolutely everywhere these days! Coffee shops, most modern restaurants, airports, and even shopping centers now have free wifi for one to use.
Additionally, many apps have offline capabilities. Obviously you won’t have access to google search while offline, but if you need to edit a document, you could do that offline. Remember that the chromebook is generally a productivity machine, so editing documents offline is good enough most of the time. There are even some games which can be played offline.
If your really need constant internet connectivity, there’s always the option to buy a metered plan, though this can be expensive. Using a phone’s data connection is also possible, though it may draw extra charges from the cellular company.
The next issue is that of power. People say that the chromebook isn’t powerful enough. But the question is this: Powerful enough for what? The chromebook’s operating system is so slimmed down that it could be run extremely efficiently on an intel atom. Windows, on the other hand, runs incredibly sluggishly on the same processor. The chromebook is tailored to be fast when on the web, and nothing else. The atom processor is still powerful enough to buffer HD video smoothly, and so the processing power of the chromebook is not a limitation at all if one uses it as it is meant to be used (for productivity). Besides, the new chromebook pixel has an i5 processor. Hopefully that’s powerful enough to satisfy critics, though it does come at a hefty price.
The OS issues come into play here as well. The OS is not limited as some people might say, but the OS is actually fully functional. Although you cannot install traditional programs onto the chromebook, there are many, many things that one can do online, including photo editing, email, and listening to music (e.g. Google Music). In fact, the OS actually makes everything FASTER, as there the operating system is CONSIDERABLE more streamlined compared to Windows. In fact, it boots much faster than windows because it simple SKIPS the BIOS, making startup that much faster.
Overall, if you need a machine for work, then this is the perfect machine. It has offline capabilities, it’s powerful, and it extremely portable (one of the main features of the chromebook). Unless you REALLY need legacy PC apps, then the chromebook is the perfect work machine.
We like this comment because it picks apart all of the various criticisms people have made against the Chromebook and Chrome OS. Whether you like the form factor or not, a lot of the complaints about it are made by those who haven’t ever tried it. That’s part of the problem for Google… getting Chromebooks into the hands of the masses in order to convert them.
We will be asking a new question tomorrow, so please join us then. We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. We ask you a question and you tell us what you think. The question is open-ended and is usually open to debate. Some questions will be purely opinion-based, while others will see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps for your fellow MakeUseOf readers. This column is nothing without your input, all of which is valued.
Image Credit: Google