Thursday, 10 January 2013

Google Chromebook - my Precious!


So James and I were sitting watching TV before Christmas and an ad came on for the Samsung/Google Chromebook.
‘That looks neat,’ said James.  ‘Cheap too.’
He’s been angling for a new laptop for ages and I’ve said tough shit, because, really there is absolutely nothing wrong with his except for the fact that it isn’t brand spanking new and, umm, the fact he has pretty much buggered it up by downloading all kinds of rubbish from the web. Because, no matter how many times you warn them about clicking on links and opening files, they never ever listen, do they?
‘Yeah, I rather like that,’ I said.  ‘In fact, I really like that.  Better than a tablet cos it’s got a proper keyboard.’
‘Go on, Mum,’ he said.  ‘Admit it – you want one.’ 
‘Okay, yes, I’d like one,’ I said, grudgingly.  ‘Oh, all right, I’d really like one.' And then added, softly and sadly: 'But I’m not getting one, am I?’

Except…  The next day I got an email from a PR.  Would I like to test out the Chromebook
‘Huh?’ I said, resisting the urge to ask if they can now listen in on conversations via television. Or if they teach psychic ability at PR school. She patiently repeated the offer.
‘What? To keep? What’s the catch?’
‘Yes to keep and no catch.  Just tell people what you honestly think about it on the blog.’
‘In that case, umm, yes please,’ I said and sat staring at the screen for several minutes after the email had vanished, somewhat puzzled. 

I mean, this was getting perilously close to cosmic ordering territory. 


If you haven’t seen the ads, the idea behind the Chromebook is that it’s a reasonably priced laptop that absolutely ANYONE – even the most tech-phobic - can use.
It retails at around the £200 mark and is slim and sleek (11.6 inch), with an air of the MacBook about it.  I’m a bit of a design snob, or I would be if my budgets allowed, but this met with complete approval. 

It also fired up pretty damn quick.  You press the ‘on’ button and it gives you a log-in screen after about 10 seconds.  You tap in your wifi details, give it your Google account details and kerching, you’re up and running.  Just like that.  Seriously.  Within five minutes of opening the parcel, I was on my usual sites and networks.  Business as usual. 

I swiftly password protected my account.  James has a horrible habit of downloading games and crap onto my PC if given half the chance which annoys the hell out of me but this is set up for everyone to have their own sign-in.  He wrangled it off me and swiftly downloaded a pile of stuff from the Google Chrome webstore (the free stuff, I hasten to add).  

Now I’m no geek or tech reviewer so you’ll have to look here for the spec stuff.  I can only tell you how it ran for me.  I love that it’s fast, really fast – because it’s a relatively straightforward setup, it really is speedy.  You open up the lid and it's there, like a Border collie at your heel, panting and ready to play, within a few seconds.  Seriously, under five seconds each time.  Given my PC acts like it's pondering the answer to world peace when I ask it to wake up and respond, it’s a small miracle.  Internet access is, as I said, a doddle. 

What I didn’t find quite so doddleish was using it for word processing and other officey type functions.  This is a Chrome OS and while there is a Windows-style taskbar across the bottom of the screen, you can’t use conventional programs.  You have to download apps if you want to write documents, do spreadsheets or have integral email.  I really didn’t like that, although other people don’t seem to find it an issue. I also like to be able to rummage inside the innards of my computers and it felt weird not having a control panel or wotnot.  But then, to be fair, this isn’t aimed at people who like to play with the innards of their PCs. 

Even with those caveats, I absolutely love it.  When I went up to London it was brilliant not to have to lug around the whopping great laptop or try to make my errant phone behave in order to get online. It’s also a great bit of kit for anyone who is tech-phobic. Given the hassle we had getting my FIL online, I’d love to be able to give him one of these.  It just cuts out so many potential hazards.  It even has inbuilt anti-virus protection and firewalls.  Battery life is pretty good as it sleeps when not in use and wakes up instantly and with that typical Collie-type obedience as soon as you need it.  If you turn down the screen brightness you can get around eight hours out of it.

It’s also pretty well ideal as a first computer for children.  There’s honestly not much they can muck up here – in fact, nothing at all.  Okay, you still have to keep an eye on where they’re going and what they’re watching but hey, that’s just called sensible parenting right.  But you don’t have to worry about them crashing the whole system or infecting themselves with all kinds of viruses. So, yes, James and I sort of share it.

Oh, and Google has this thing called Gallery for Everyone that sort of goes along with the idea of it ...being for everyone.  I uploaded a few pics - it's rather cute.  

Now then...if I can summon up a Chromebook...whatever next?  

24 comments:

Nicola Burt-Skinner said...

Most people would order it from Currys, you ordered it from the Cosmos!

Excellent review. I was hoping to get one of these for Christmas but hubby didn't take the hint. After reading how fast it is, and easy to lug around, I may just gift myself with one.

Exmoorjane said...

@Nicola - ha! Not bad,huh? Seriously, it really is pretty good. But do check out other reviews - the link is to Stuff...they seemed to like it too. :)

liveotherwise said...

Cosmic supply company in action! Must get louder about what I'd like ;)

Midlife Singlemum said...

It seems the difference between the smallest laptops without cd; and an ipad is about 800 pounds, a different type of keyboard on the ipad and the ipad lets you play house of funny mirrors with your photos. I can do without the funny photos to save 800 pounds.

Frankie said...

Interesting. I've heard good things about the Asus tablet with the keyboard dock lately too. I'm in not-quite-desperate need of something to replace my aging Eee.

I'm also considering what might be a good replacement for my Nook with the dodgy screen. Think you can manifest a Kobo to review, or maybe a BeBook?

Joanne Mallon said...

oh wow lucky you getting one for free - I had to shell out actual spondulicks for mine. I love it too - alas so do my kids, so the main problem I have is wrenching it off them.

I don't find the document thing to be a problem (though I do most of my main writing on a PC and the Chromebook is more of a backup). I do a lot of social media work and it's great for that sort of thing on the move, and for blogging.

The price is pretty much the same everywhere, so the only added value I could find was buying it from John Lewis to get a 2 year guarantee.

Anne Wareham said...

Mine crashes a lot. Have to say the crashes are getting better - sometimes it comes back and starts to reload almost straight away.
And it freezes - you need to know that you have to (I think) press esc and hold switch on button for 10 seconds or similar to make it revive then.
And (sorry) I don't seem able to open many tabs before it starts reloading every site if I move between tabs at all.
Otherwise... yes. Good.Could be better.....

Exmoorjane said...

@liveotherwise - not sure it's louder...in fact, not sure what it is. :)

@Rachel - I've never had a Mac...just never been able to justify the price difference. And, actually a lot of things about them I don't like (husband always has them).

@Frankie - Your Nook is dying? Nooo. :( You're talking foreign with Asus and Eee... I'm not the person to ask. I suspect the Chromebook wouldn't be techy enough for you. I'll work on the Kobo. Never heard of BeBook.

@Joanne - What do you use for word processing and pics?

@Anne - haven't had those problems at all - have been playing with it now for about three weeks and so far, good as gold. The Chromebook team are sorry to hear you've had problems and suggest getting in touch with the Chromebook Ninjas: http://support.google.com/chromeos/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1280301
Hopefully they can come up with a better solution.

Anne Wareham said...

Thanks - I'll give that a go when I have time.

Anne Wareham said...

Eeeek! Gave that a try and it's going to be a week or two filling things in.
It's not a dedicated site - it's in Ukranian and has a lot of options..(is it a cooker?)
Thanks Chromebook but I haven't got a few weeks available to find out how to mend your machine!

Anne Wareham said...

If you google Chromebook crashing you'll see a lot of results, I see....

I think it may not just be me....

Exmoorjane said...

@Anne - yikes, sorry to hear that. I'd fed your comments back and have asked for someone to respond directly.

Anne Wareham said...

Hey! That's good of you! You made me realise I'd just been putting up with it...
I do get fed up with how we get this tech then when it goes wrong we have to spend hours (and anxiety and frustration) mending the damn things.
Xxxxxx

Exmoorjane said...

@Anne - yes, we do. We have almost come to expect things to malfunction. I have felt that way with my iPhone and iPod. Still waiting on that response from the Chromebook people.

Anne Wareham said...

Yep...still waiting, still crashing!

It's the 'mend it yourself' I mind most - can take all day.(what's my time worth?)

Now, is that better than taking a thing into a shop for them to send it away for repair...

In fairness all that is a pain!
It's all a bit like having a car was in the 1950s when men spent their weekends under the bonnet..

Would be nice to have a Chromebook that didn't freeze and crash tho..

Claire said...

@Anne Hello there! I am responding from BBH, the agency which worked with Google on the latest Chrome campaign. Please accept my sincerest apologies for the delayed response. We are sorry to hear about the problems with your device! I've looked into this, and support for hardware problems are handled by the device manufacturer - usually either Samsung or Acer.You can reach Samsung's customer support on 0330 7267864 or 01932 454358. Acer have several contact options - you can find all of their contact options via the support section the Acer website (http://www.acer.co.uk/ac/en/GB/content/service). Feel free to email me if you have any other questions - you can reach me at claire dot coady at bbh dot co dot uk. Thanks - Claire.

Anne Wareham said...

Claire - thanks for that. Is there an email contact for Chromebook?

Anne Wareham said...

Sorry Claire - for the Samsung (very latest!) Chromebook...

Exmoorjane said...

@Anne - maybe contact Claire direct on her email? Hope you get it sorted.

Anne Wareham said...

Whoops - sorry = missed that! Will do. XXXXX

Exmoorjane said...

@Anne - :)

Claire said...

@Anne - hope all is well! I've noticed your comment, but I haven't received an email. Just wanted to check all was ok?

Anne Wareham said...

Thanks Claire _ I'm afraid your email bounced back when I asked you for an email rather than a phone number.

But basically it's a pain and I haven't got time to mess about ringing/writing/trying to find the answer.

Thanks for your concern. I guess i should really send it back.

Claire Coady said...

Hi @Anne. That's strange. Could you please try emailing me again? I will see if I can find a Samsung email address on this end. My email is Claire.Coady@bbh.co.uk. I'll look out for your email tomorrow!