Being a Linux user for many years, I decided to purchase a Chromebook in 2014. I’ve written numerous articles since then, because whilst I remained a desktop Linux user, I tried to use the Chromebook exclusively when it came to my day to day needs.
I differ from many of the outspoken people online regarding the Chromebook and its OS, in that I actually use one and the “rose tinted, what you want to believe” opinion of the Chromebook, doesn’t exist for me.
Lets set something straight, the Chrome “store” (and I use that term loosely) is a mess. No ifs, no buts. The apps are mainly URL shortcuts (which is to be expected) but what isn’t expected are some of those “apps” being links to Windows binaries. I understand users of other OS’s use the Chrome browser, but a Windows binary to a Chromebook user is about as useful as a hairbrush for Steve Balmer. I could spend an entire article highlighting everything broken, neglected or just plain nonsensical about ChromeOS, but I won’t because its the weekend and I don’t want to sour my mood.
We see Android apps are coming to the Chromebook and its a reminder that this (Android) should have been the default from the start. I would question even the most modern Chromebook spec’s being able to keep up with some of the Android app requirements and if they do, I’d expect a price tag getting on to a traditional laptop.
When someone tells you “But you can install Linux on it!!” I’d respond by asking why don’t I, as user of Linux for many years do this? Well its the size of HD…10gb! and I see an average of 15gb in the shops now. 15gb? After your OS is on and the apps of choice, I’d still be looking at a space issue and having to turn to the cloud to assist, which in the case of video editing is akin to eating soup with a fork. These days 15gb doesn’t get you far if you dare to buy a decent camera or want to do a little simple video editing, you’ll use it up far too quickly. If I want a Linux laptop, I’ll buy one, I won’t have to pay much more and it will have far more scope.
“Get another HD”. Yes, great idea, I love the thought of my currently portable web browser (Chromebook) having peripherals dangling off it.
You can buy an HP Chromebook at around £199 in the UK. Or you can get a HP traditional laptop, with dvd burner and 500gb HD for £60 more….if you were really daft you could install ChromeOS on that and have a better spec’d machine with 50x more storage capacity.
Chromebooks as a general rule may be cheaper, but I don’t think they are better value.
“But they are for just browsing and net work” – Ok, I’ll use a tablet. “But they have a keyboard!” Ok, I’ll buy one of those hybrid tablet/books then. Either way, there is nothing unique to the Chromebook that cannot be achieved with another device, nearly as cheaply but with the bonus of being able to do so much more.
In my view as a regular user of Chromebooks since 2014, ChromeOS is broken, Chromebooks are a false economy and as for Android Apps coming to the platform? Well it will need to see a massive increase in spec’s in order to satisfy what people will want from a laptop running Android apps. Just think to yourself how quickly your phone is filled up with a few apps.
My advice to anyone considering a Chromebook? Get a budget laptop and install Linux instead, you’ll get far better value and functionality.
To me, the reports that Chromebooks are massively increasing in popularity will shortly end in tears, as when the initial novelty wears off and compromises on the machine have to be made. As soon as people realize that its not much more than a web browser and they would have been better served with a traditional PC, they won’t be best pleased. Breaking news – peoples basic needs are more than just a webrowser with a keyboard and a few apps in the cloud.