Google Chromebook review.
And why Google’s Chromebook will change your business life…
I have had the new Samsung Chromebook 550 for about 2 months now and this week I can confirm it is an incredible experience.
Yes, I am saying it is an “experience”, not a piece of kit.
Here is why…
1. You log into the computer by logging into your Google account.
It jumps straight into the browser i.e. Chrome opens – this is a little odd at first, especially as you don’t have the same kind of desktop where you usually drag and drop around files. But is starts to make sense after a while…
2. The ‘social layer’ is put at the centre of all Google products and services services. As such, you will find everything relating to Google+ a lot easier than ever before. Your gmail, G+, youtube account are increasingly ‘smoothed over’.
3. There is a great ‘search’ key where the CapsLock usually resides – once you realise this saves time and unnecessary clicks, it all starts to come together.
4. All files are stored into Google Drive i..e you don’t have a desktop.
This means they are all in one place, in the cloud. Once you get to organise yourself, you will find that everything is ‘there’, just a scan of the eye or search away.
5. You will be using Google Docs for Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc. You are probably already familiar with this aspect of the Google experience.
Here is a tip: if you use this these often then I would suggest getting used to Google Docs first for a few weeks +Farhad Divecha and +Jack C Crawford
6. Google Docs is all about sharing and collaborating. On many occasions I have shared links to pages for shared projects. As the social layer becomes increasingly seemless in your own life, such tools will allow for information to be created and shared with increased efficiency.
7. The built in camera is bright, clear and people have commented in particular on how good it is in daylight.
8. Hangouts: The videos are going live well from on-air hangouts and hangouts in general are very easy to get going with the Chromebook. We tested it and from hangout to shut down, to restart/log-in takes less than a minute (and I think I was slower than I could have been!)
There were problems with Chrome’s operating system over the summer 2012, preventing being able to conduct hangouts-on-air, but these have cleared up well. I am sure +Samsung USA and +Jessica Kalbarczyk were fed up of my messages about this 😛
That is the great thing – any updates automatically un-intrusively install when you reboot.
9. You add in whatever apps you want to have and customise to suit you. Now, I must say there is a kind of desktop in that you can run Gmail offline and use scratchpad for notes etc, which is handy.You just can’t pile up images or files into desktop folders.
10. You can customise Chrome to have extension that make your life easier. This isn’t exclusive to the Chromebook but it is a central feature.
For me, without the need of anything much outside of Google+ itself and the web in general, it is ideal. I can’t say, for instance, it will be perfect for a designer as their main computer as I don’t know whether there is appropriate web based software.
I believe there is a 2meg upload limit to Drive, and not sure whether that will change. So that may need to be considered if you want to upload large files.
The only other thing I want to mention is how I have found some issues with formatting between Open Office docs and Word in Google docs but this could have happened in any case.
I have to admit to still opening up the Mac once in a while.
Mainly to give people access to me via skype as there is no Skype App in the Chromestore. If you are a big skype fan you may want to look at https://imo.im/(h/t +patrik)
as this is a way not to let it go quite yet.
I have become far less keen since skype’s dogged determination for all of my contacts from Facebook to be integrated into my account (even when I re-installed an older version it foot-stampedly told me it wanted to update itself).
If you are committed to putting Google Plus and the social layer at the centre of your world, then I would suggest getting the Chromebook for your next laptop.
They are not as ‘shiny’ as a Mac and I still a little excited when passing the Apple store, but the Google experience is something beyond packaging. The Chromebook is also less than half the price of an entry level Mac laptop, so that helps its case for sure.
Please note: I having been a PC guy for many years hence why I tend to compare to the Mac.
All in all the Chromebook has been designed as an integral part to the experience and with enable more commoogling than ever.