I don’t know about you, but my students don’t really use the internet much. They’re very wee, after all, and I like to keep screen time short. Their mother does use the internet a lot, though, and she has gotten mighty tired of lugging around her cumbersome (once-boss, now beat-up) HP Pavilion laptop. That thing is HEAVY. Don’t feel sorry for me, though. Staples just sent me a sweet little HP Pavilion 14″ Chromebook to ease my burden.
While the label on the box touts it as “the first full-sized Chromebook”, it is still closer to a netbook in size. It is very small compared to the other thing I’ve been using, and comes with the added charm of not having a three-inch wide black spot in the bottom-middle of the screen where somebody stuck a very interested little finger in it a bit too hard. (Not me. A kid. Honest.) Besides this obvious advantage, I’m finding it to be a very good little machine to use for blogging and web-browsing. The hardware itself is better than I would have expected for the $299 price tag. Satisfying keyboard-click, pleasantly bumpy trackpad, great battery life, and seriously good speakers. If your student likes to listen to music while “researching” things on the internet, this is the laptop for him.
This being Chrome OS, it’s pretty much all browser, so I will definitely not be replacing my work horse with it entirely. You can download plenty of apps, but there are a number of programs I need that there are no Chrome apps to replace. Besides, I’m too old (or lazy) to learn new tricks. For someone whose sole use for computers is browsing, buying, and printing, this is a pretty good choice. It will be my go-to machine for travel, and I’d think it would be perfect for a student headed to college. (Update: Due to an unexpected financial need, I will be selling the netbook instead of using it myself. It’s a sad day, but dentists like to be paid. They’re weird like that.)
Staples was also kind enough to send my son an Access Backpack which, as far as I know, has no bugs or glitches. David loves it, because it’s huge and it has hidey-holes. I like it, too, because now I don’t have to buy him one for several years. It’s sturdy.
Now I’m turning the keyboard over to Jesse so he can give you a more technical review. I know Chromebooks are still an uncertain thing for most of us, so I thought it might be fun to let a technical guy run it through its paces and tell you what a real geek thinks.
I am a big fan of this machine. The speakers are phenomenal, the screen is great, and the speed and responsiveness of the OS is absolutely worth the money. I’m also pleasantly surprised by the touchpad; usually these aren’t great netbooks, but this one has great action.
Chrome OS is pretty much a browser, and that’s it. For the vast majority of users, that’s perfectly acceptable; in fact, I’d really like to get one of these for my Mom; see, with just a browser, you’re not running an OS that’s too complicated for you to understand, and easy to break due to pops up, spyware, etc. Don’t gloss over that; if you run Windows or Mac OS, and you feel like your machine is getting slower and slower on you, then without going into details, I’m telling you that this machine won’t do that; it should be just as zippy the day you replace it as it was the day you bought it.
I’ve used the machine for Spotify, Netflix, and an audio/video streaming package called Subsonic that I run at home, and they work quite well; the machine is great for streaming media consumption. I’m writing this post with the machine, so if you’re using a blog, or the Google Docs services, it’ll work well there as well.
My lap isn’t on fire, and that’s great! The fan is very quiet, so much so that I had to put my ear right up against the chassis to make sure that it even had one.
I’m not really all that thrilled with the keyboard; it’s passable, but the tactile response is a little too soft. I type all day every day, so I’m picky. Of course, you can always pop your favorite USB keyboard into one of the three USB slots and use it instead when you’re deskbound.
If you’re going to buy one of these, then you need to remember that if you’re using Windows or Mac OS, and if you use applications, you’re not taking them with you. Google does run a remote access app to let you use your PC from the box, though, so if you keep your machine on all the time, you can get to it from the outside world.
As a tech, I have very particular needs, so I wouldn’t be able to use one of these; it’s a shame, because I really like the machine .
If you aren’t like me, then I’d absolutely recommend one for you.
Disclosure: Staples.com sent me a Chromebook and a backpack to review and keep, and of course, that’s something like compensation. But no money changed hands, and my opinions are, for whatever they are worth, my own. Here’s your mommy blogger grain of salt.