Google Chromebooks are similar in appearance to a nice, sleek, and speedy mac book air/laptop/netbook designed from the bottom up to be ultra mobile. Made to run Chromebook OS, they are the brainchild of the geniuses over at Google. It’s cloud based computing perfected. Which means, all of your data, all of your apps, and everything else stays safe and available to you anywhere in the world 24/7 from the servers at Google.
Your desktop and data is linked to your unique user ID. Log into any Chromebook, and your desktop follows. And, as long as you have a working internet connection (yes, Google Chromebooks are very usable offline) your data is constantly backed up, so it’s always safe.
They make a great addition for anyone and fit well into business, the classroom, your living room, the backseat of the car, the airport terminal, or anywhere else your travels may take you.
Mobile Computing for Everyone
Fits well in the classroom The world is mobile, and with modern technology your computer should be just as mobile as you. Chromebook fills this role very well. And, with Chromebook laptop, Google is poised to satisfy a large part of the mobile computing market.
Google has recently released several versions of it’s new Chromebook. The most popular seems to be the Samsung ARM which starts at only around $250. It utilizes much of the same hardware as the tablets. So what’s the difference?
The main difference is the keyboard. However, even though the Chromebook has a keyboard, it is certainly not a laptop. It’s more like a mobile web browser with a few extra bells and whistles that is complete with Google’s continuous support and suit of apps.
Apps to help you accomplish any number of life’s little task. You name it and there’s probably an app for it or one soon to come. And, did I mention it has a keyboard. The Samsung Chromebook’s keyboard in particular has a surprisingly nice feel for its price point.
I only wish that the keys were back-lit but I suppose that’s asking a little much from this bargain machine. Just keep in mind that the Chromebook, like a tablet, is probably not going to replace your primary machine unless all you need is internet and e-mail. In which case, don’t even read any more. Just go get one.
Samsung Chromebook Laptop
Currently, Samsung makes what seems to be the most popular of the available Chromebooks. Samsung now sports a new lighter version of it’s Chromebook and weighs in a just 2.42 pounds. It doesn’t have any moving parts so as long as your not watching a video or playing music it’s completely silent. Plus, it never heats up. Other key features include: 11.6-inch anti-glare screen, a 0.69-inch body, 6.5 hours of battery life, Bluetooth, and 100 GB of free Google Drive storage for two years. In addition to 12 free Gogo Inflight passes and an optional 3G version that includes 2 years of service.
Check it out here for complete specs.
How does that stack up against the MacBook Air?
Height 0.7 inches
Width 11.8 inches
Depth 7.6 inches
Weight 2.4 pounds
PRICE Around $1000
Samsung Chromebook laptop:
Height 0.69 inches
Width 11.4 inches
Depth 8.09 inches
Weight 2.4 pounds
PRICE Starting at just $250!
What is The Operating System on a Chromebook ?
What operating system is a chromebook ? Or, What is a Chromebook operating system (OS)? Well, it’s cloud based computing. Chromebook OS or Chrome OS is a Google designed OS fine tuned to run everything you need for daily life within the Chrome browser environment. Apps take the place of traditional programs and desktop icons, and Google services check your email, edit your documents, ect. Then, sync them online for seamless access with your other devices and Chromebooks.
It keeps your new device safe by automatically keeping itself up to date and protects you from nasty computer viruses and malware.
However, Chromebooks currently lack the power of a higher end laptop or desktop. So, it’s not going to work well with heavy photo editing and similar resource intensive applications.(Unless….see below for a potential workaround)
Since it’s cloud based computing, the Chromebook OS itself is relatively light. Therefore, giving most Chromebooks the ability to boot very quickly (less than 10 seconds). All this while maintaining plenty of capability to function without an internet connection and of course instantly syncing your progress when one becomes available.
Test drive: Chromebook OS
Curious about how it would feel to use Google Chromebook with Chrome OS?
Why not give it a test drive right from your current computer?
The official Chrome OS is based off of the open sourced Chromium OS which is freely available to the public. Vanilla by Hexxeh releases regularly updated versions of Chromium OS designed to work on Windows, Linux, or Mac computers.
There are two different methods of running Chromium OS (Vanilla) from your computer:
- Boot from USB or
- Run a virtual machine
To boot from a USB drive, you will first need at least a 4 gig USB.
1. Visit http://chromeos.hexxeh.net/ to download the latest version of Chromium OS (Vanilla)
2. Choose your operating system and follow the instructions provided on the previously mentioned website. (Just 4 simple steps)
To run from a virtual machine on your desktop you will need to download VirtualBox. and Vanilla VirtualBox version.
Once virtual box is installed, create a new machine. Give the new machine a name and select Linux as the operating system, Assign at least 1 gig of RAM. Choose an existing hard drive and select the OS you just downloaded. Voila! Now give you new Chrome OS a spin.
Need more instructions?
What Good is a Chromebook ?
It’s a nice, sexy, sleek, very light design. And, it’s quick off the line. Most models boot in 10 seconds or less. And, like most devices, there are plenty of options to customize yours and make it personal both on the outside and on your new Chrome OS desktop.
It has a keyboard! And not one of those really bad add-ons that pass for keyboards on tablet PCs. A real keyboard that you can feel at home with typing your next report or blog. Plus, the Samsung Chromebook is complete with a multi-touch pad.
Share it with friends and family without having to worry about your important business or personal files. Create as many Google accounts as you want. Most people will already have their own. Everyone will have their very own apps and files stored safely and securely in “the cloud”. Once logged in you can pick right up where you left off.
Chromebook will keep itself updated and protected from viruses and malware without giving you any headache. Also, as mentioned before, you data is automatically backed up. So, stop worrying.
It comes with 12 free passes to Gogo in flight internet access. A huge value if you add up the steep cost of in flight data charges. Around $120!
Thousands of apps for whatever you need, on which, many can be made accessible for offline use. All available through the Chrome Store.
Although, it’s not required. An internet connection is needed to get the most out of your new Chromebook. But, that can be said about any mobile device. Especially with our dependence on e-mail and internet for reference and business communications. And, if you’re willing to pay a just a little extra, the 3G versions ensure that you will stay connected almost anywhere.
Even though you may get lost in the seamless web browsing, emailing, and document editing the Chromebook offers, It is far from the powerhouse of your typical business computer. If you need to do any major photo editing, animation, or graphic design, Chromebook isn’t going to be enough unless you take a few extra steps.
How to get your desktop’s raw power on your ultra-portable Chromebook.
Earlier, I said that one of the key disadvantages of the Chromebook is that it lacks the sheer power of a desktop/laptop needed for photo-editing, animation, etc.
However, there is a way around this!
Enter “Chrome Remote Desktop”. It is a very easy setup. Just install Chrome Remote Desktop on your Chromebook and on the computer that you wish to access remotely. Follow the very simple instructions provided and voila. It’s that easy. Setup takes less than a few minutes.
Initially, I did a quick little test to see how well it worked. I opened up 5 Youtube videos, 1 Netflix movie, 1 Vudu movie, Pandora music, and I am updating this post. It is complete with seamless audio and video. Every video and audio stream is smooth without jumps or stutters.
What about something that pushes my machine to it’s limits? I tried the following fully expecting it not to work. I opened up a resource intensive game “Borderlands 2” on max video settings. The results; Eh, better than I expected. The audio was flawless. For the video, I had to cap the frame rate to 30 FPS otherwise it seemed to jump a little.
It was usable but not enjoyable. I only spent about 5 minutes playing with it and probably could have gotten it to work much better with a little bit more time. Bottom line is, my desktop’s CPU and top of the line graphics card that itself weighs more than my Samsung Chromebook did all of the work and streamed the result to me for my enjoyment.
I don’t really do any high end graphics design or editing, so I was not able to test this. However, given my other test I imagine that it would work quite well. Therefore, if you have a computer available able to handle the work and your Chromebook is your secondary computer that you take with you on the go.
You now have a powerhouse in your lap that can travel with you for a very very low price compared to alternatives. Add to that, powerful laptops are going to be much heavier and typically have a much lower battery life.
Another key limitation with the above mentioned method, an internet connection is always going to be required. By it’s nature, there can be no workaround for that.
Be sure to check out how to set up wake on LAN so you don’t have to keep your primary computer on 24/7 for remote desktop access. As of this time, there is no wake on LAN built into the Chrome Remote Desktop application. So, you need to set it up separately. It is a little more involved but still very doable with limited technical experience.
What is a Chromebook Used for ?
Who should buy the Chromebook? Could you benefit from a Chromebook?
Well if you could use an ultra-portable, sleek device with a good battery life. And, you enjoy the ability to type unrestrained on a comfortable/functional keyboard, effortlessly browse the web, superior support from the egg heads at Google protecting you from all the nasty viruses and malware, keeping you up to date, and backing up all of you important data. All this in a very affordable package. Then the answer is Yes!
If you need raw power, then you might want to shell out some extra money to get a laptop or desktop. Unless, you already have one, and you think that Chrome Remote Desktop can meet your needs.
When it comes down to travel, given the choice between a Chromebook, a tablet/iPad, or a laptop i’m going with the Chromebook any day of the week.