on February 27, 2013
First I gotta admit I have been a computer nerd since my first computer in 1979, a Radio Shack Model-1. Today I am a Mac and Win-7 user, at work we have XP computers. I'm pretty smart about technology.
I got my first Chrome computer, the $250 Samsung laptop when they came out not really knowing much about the Chrome OS aside from reviews online. Now, I have the newer Chromebox with the rounded white case.
Sitting right next to the monitor for the box is my iMac. I use it in conjunction with Chrome to cover for the shortfalls of this OS. Remember, Chrome is a work-in-progress and is still being developed and still well supported by Google.
The Chromebox is similar to the Chromebook in performance and features. Nice part is any change made to the settings of either reflects in both units, which is nice. Supposedly if you log in on anyone elses Chrome machine your settings, etc will eventually appear until you log-out.
With my windows-7 laptop, a rather expensive Asus ROG (Republic of Gamers) series machine, very large and heavy with 3D display using shutter glasses, the big flaw is my DVD drive never wrote correctly, so I couldn't ever make system restore discs, and when the OS got slightly corrupted it no longer allows updates to the OS. Then there's all the BS with vulnerability to viruses and spyware. Supposedly, the chrome machines are not vulnerable. Chrome means the end of messing with names like AVG and all the crapware that populates most new computers today. Switching mostly to Chrome eliminated most of what I hate in computers.
But there is a price to be paid for the convenience and boot speed; you CANNOT buy and add software. All the machine can do is access webpages. All the basics are included and work off line too, like word processing, spreadsheet, powerpoint-type presentations, and a ton more are all online and mostly totally free. For now, the Chrome machines come with free (for 2 years) 100gb online storage which I use extensively.
I do play some games and I do use itunes as a replacement for cable-TV, plus I use Amazon Prime too. There is nothing online as of today to replace itunes, but google-play comes closest so far. If you use an existing computer with itunes, run it daily, it can sync your audio podcasts with google-play to replace some of what you lose when you no longer have itunes. I hear sooner or later itunes will be available online, someday.
This is not a high performance, high capacity, high definition computer. This is a secure, simple, reliable, net-dependent OS and computer. It takes time to get used to the concept of a web based computer. For me it is taking months to adapt and I'm still learning, but it is moving along well.
Can I retire my PC yet? Nope. I am still dependent on itunes for podcasts and adding songs to my library, but the hours it is used is slowly decreasing.
Today I figured out how to connect my older Apple bluetooth keyboard and mouse to the Chromebox, they work fine. It works fine with any of my external hard drives. It really struggles with playing video via the hard drive, but online stuff works fine.
So Chrome is still a young operating system. It still needs some work, but it is slowly improving. My overall satisfaction with chrome is also increasing.
Many people gripe about privacy problem related to dependence on Google, but there are lots of add-ons and settings to greatly increase your independence from mother google, not to worry. Besides, if the purpose of computers sniffing what I do online is to show me ads, but I deploy lots of ad blocking software and seldom see ads anyway...? No matter how closely they profile me I will not make a purchase decision based on any online ad and I will NEVER click on an internet ad.
I'll add more to this review over time, but as of today, I am pleased with both of my Chrome devices.
Hoping that Google and Samsung will read my review and take these suggestions to heart I am going to gradually add a list of things I would like to see added or changed on chrome and the chrome computers:
1. Settings for power saver features, like how long until it auto-shuts down. Or to disable the feature. (the power saver settings which cannot be changed now, are totally without any benefit to anyone anywhere except maybe someone living on total solar power and batteries)
2. Add the date to the time display in the lower corner of the screen.
3. Add the ability to drag and drop files into sub folders on external devices.
4. Move the audio output jack to the back of the device.
6. Add settings for display resolution, width, overscan.
7. On google play add the ability to self gather/update podcasts by RSS to my folders.
8. You cannot access your other computers on your network.
9. Be careful when deleting files from your downloads folder, the OS automatically selects files you may not see and would be included when you click to delete things.
10. This machine cannot play video files with decent resolution, it chokes on the data and ads lots of artifact, might even lock-up. Only can display small compressed files from sources like Youtube.
11. Periodically, it will not recognize my wireless mouse dongle, it needs to be re-plugged to work, so don't use the back ports for the mouse!
on February 25, 2013
Along with half the boomers I know, I am trying to support an engaged but aging parent with e-mail, calendar, simple word processing, and grandchild-picture functions. Those in this position know that both Windows' constant security updates and user-interface muddle and Apple's refusal to support older machines or software are challenges for those who grew up on IBM Selectrics, and that both operating systems are complex enough that talking the elderly though basic operations can be frustrating.
Chrome seems close to a workable solution. Minimalist but effective for the key grandmother tasks, secure, easy and inexpensive to replicate on support-children's home machines, cost-effective, etc. My mother's initial impressions of my new Chromebook were that it would be much less of a learning curve than her iPad had been, and that the conventional laptop interface was a better fit to her needs.
The biggest shortcoming for my purposes is the lack of a simple printing option. My mother has been printing from her iPad to a network printer, and it sort of works, but it confuses both her and the part-time network administrator at the senior-living facility, and I end up spending a lot of time trouble-shooting someone else's network. A driver for a simple laser printer (and also maybe for a snapshot-print printer) would make it all work. I'd buy a $100 base-model laser printer for her if Samsung (and/or HP, Canon, Epson...) would make sure it works and stays supported.
Better support for VGA and the other usual late-model-TV interfaces would also go a long way.
How about it, Google?
on March 21, 2013
I bought this for my young (5 years old) child. They use it to watch videos on youtube, play web games and chrome store games, and do learning activities that are web based. I bought a cheap keyboard/mouse, and got some headphones. It's fast, works great, and keeps them off my computer. I have not yet tried to set up a webcam or network our printer, but it is on the to-do list.
I put the age in to give some people some more perspective. My child is in Kindergarten, and they have weekly computer lab, so she gets access to math programs and reading programs that can also be accessed at home.
I got the printer networked! I have a brother HL-2270DW. I have it normally wireless on my network, but it's not in the list of supported printers. So I plugged a usb cable into my main computer, went into chrome browser and clicked share, it gave me a link I then emailed to my child's account, clicked that and it now it works great.
A side note, I mentioned the headphones ^. Well, the other day I went to check and the sound was rather loud. Mind, there was no external sound like weedwackers outside or a fan going, but it was loud enough to where I would like the volume level. So, I wonder how the headphones are producing so much sound. Apparently my child figured out that if the headphone jack is unplugged there is actually a small speaker internally that will play audio. So, that's neat.
Also, teaching my child typing with a chrome store based app, and how to email the grand and great grand parents!
on February 21, 2013
I was excited to purchase this for my elderly mother to save me from having to update her computer and fix problems constantly. The Chromebox started up in 4 seconds, had some difficulty connecting to the ethernet, but then everything ran as expected. As I started to explain to her how everything was laid out, I figured out that with this machine there is no way to install a printer. This was confirmed by Samsung tech support (excellent by the way) who said I could print using another computer with an installed printer and Chrome's "cloud printing", or purchase a network printer. There might have been a way to install the printer driver if I was fluent in Linux, but I'm not. None of these options were doable for my mom so I am sending it back.
This device did everything it said it could do, except it did not say it couldn't print. If you have a home network with multiple computers or a networked printer, then get this machine. The speed and simplicity are incredible. But if it is the only computer in the house, I would avoid it because sooner or later you will need to print something.
on April 17, 2013
My wife is so happy, we got a Chromebox! 97% of what she does is just using the internet. It's super fast, turns on and off instantly, and NEVER freezes! No more hourglasses! We don't yet have a Google Cloud Printer/Scanner. We print and scan about once or twice a week, so we've hooked up a laptop pc to our printer and scanner. This should NOT be the only computer you have if you think you may ever want to run software. Also, we need to get a webcam for the Chromebox, and there are some that don't involve software or drivers. Don't forget to redeem Google's Free 100GB storage on Google Drive for two years. After purchasing this Chromebox, using your Chromebox visit [...] We got our 100GB! After two years, you will still be able to access and read your stuff, but if you're over the limit you had after two years, you won't be able to add NEW stuff. Also, by us using the Chromebox as our main computer, we save a lot of wear and tear on our pcs and laptops.
on March 19, 2013
The Chrome OS is the future. It's lightning fast, clean, simple, not complicated. Will work for 95+ percent of my computing needs (Internet). I've used the Samsung Chromebox for a week now, and must say am quite impressed with the design. Won't allow programs to be installed on it, but that's fine, more and more I only work on the web. And will be keeping an ASUS laptop for times when I need to use Garmin software or Photoshop. The rest of the time I'm speeding along with my new Chromebox. And it starts up in 10 seconds. That's seconds, not minutes. Easy to add an external hard disk for photos. And as far as printing, you can't use a dedicated printer, but no big deal. Just buy an ePrinter ($70 for an HP 3510), connect it to your wireless router, and away you go. Don't fret the printing thing.
And if you support an aging parent or grandparent "for computer needs", consider this Chromebox. Hook it up to an existing monitor (you need a cable with DMI on one end, whatever the monitor has on the other end), existing USB keyboard and USB mouse, and you're up and running. No virus protection needed, and regular updates only take a few seconds, all done in the background. What's not to like?
on July 20, 2013
This is my second Chromebox purchase and so I have some experience with this product and will attempt to make sure readers don't make some of the mistakes I made.
My first Chromebox was purchased to hook up to my 40 inch Panasonic plasma TV as an internet TV device. This did not work out well. In many ways it worked but because the Chromebox only supports up to 30 inch monitors, I had trouble with consistently being able to get the device to run all the internet sites I wanted on my TV, i.e. PBS, Discovery at full screen resolution. I did better with just using my Windows Lenovo laptop hooked up with a HDMI cable to the 40 inch TV.
So, I had two desktop Macs in my house. An older Mac Mini that my wife uses and an IMac that I use. The older Mac Mini was slow with lots of maintenance needs, so I unhooked it and hooked the Chromebox up to a 23 in Dell monitor. My wife loved it! Fast boot up. Great for web surfing and email. No constant software update requests. So she was happy, happy, happy!
Now my wife is surfing the net at blazing speeds, while I am on my iMac getting more and more frustrated at software issues, slow speed and crashes. I began to spend more and more time on my wife's Chromebox (when she wasn't looking) to get work I wanted done without interruption. So I bought this Chromebox and a new 27 inch Samsung 27 inch monitor/HDTV. Now like my wife I am happy, happy, happy.
No, it is not an equal replacement for an new well=tuned iMac. I kept my iMac and moved it to the back desk. The printer setup with Chromebox is not as easy as a Mac. But it is not that much of a problem if you are familiar with Google Docs and spend some time learning about Google Drive printing. We are both able to use our network printer from each of the Chromebox computers for routine printing. I still need to use the iMac for my scanner as I am not aware of a way to use my scanner with a Chromebox.
If you need Microsoft Word and Excel working on your computer, Chromebox is not for you. I have been transitioning to Google Docs for the majority of my work. But when I need an Excel or Word document modified I have to revert to the iMac. I suppose you could also consider using Office Cloud but I am not spending any more money on Microsoft software so I haven't tried it.
I also do quite a bit of photo editing that I do on my iPad and iMac. I am doing more on web based sites like pixlr.com but not ready to give up the iMac for this yet.
I think the Chromebox is not a replacement for most people using a PC or a Mac, but for me, I have found some great niches for the device that I love. So what might be the niche for others? Here are some thoughts:
1. Second computer in the kitchen, bedroom or in the office when more than one needs to be online at the same time
2. Computer in the vacation home
3. 20 computers for 20 students in the 4th grade classroom (limited IT/software cost time)
4. Travel computer with a keyboard/mouse to hook up to motel tv/monitor when a laptop won't do, or take a lightweight monitor/tv with you on the road/RV.
5. Companion to a Mac/Windows laptop for the student headed off to college
Well, I think you get the idea here.
I think many others will find a spot for a low cost, quick start up, worry free device that gets you on the web. I might not be a typical user, but I already have two Chromebox units and despite an early disappointment, I use them daily and they perform flawlessly. My early disappointment was not due to the product but due to an unrealistic expectation.
I hope this review provides readers with a realistic view of a what this product can do so that they can find a spot where a Chromebox makes them happy, happy, happy!
on August 5, 2013
This system adequately represents the CromeOS. I can do my silly internet browsing in the morning before I head to work. I use a DVI to HDMI cable to connect this to my TV, and it successfully brings both video and sound to my television. I still use a different PC for specific applications, but when I am sitting in front of the TV and need to google something, this works out quite well. Able to print to cloud accessible printer.
on May 15, 2013
When my Windows laptop died months ago, I replaced it with a Chromebook and loved it. So when our aging Windows PC needed to be replaced, we purchased a Chromebox. It arrived on-time (thanks, Amazon!). I took it out of the box, plugged in the network, power, monitor, mouse receiver and keyboard and turned it on. In a few seconds it booted and I entered my Google login and we were online. It needed two OS updates which took a total of 30 seconds, including the restarts, and we were off to the races. It is silent (no fans or hard drives), quick (boots in seconds and loads pages almost instantly), has no virus crapware to deal with, and it is tiny. We never turn it off as it takes seconds to wake up and uses almost no juice anyway. There was no software from the Win PC that we needed (goodbye MS Office, Norton Utilities, etc.) as we use cloud apps for everything now (docs, photos, taxes, videos, games, etc.). The Chromebox does not come with a keyboard or mouse but you can use any USB units you already have. I purchased a Samsung Chrome wired keyboard and Logitech M325 wireless mouse and they work great. The keyboard has the Chrome OS-specific keys along the top which is very handy. The Chromebox has display ports and a DVI connector for your monitor. The only reason I had to buy a new monitor was that our old one had died.
on August 15, 2013
This is a superb computer! Can it take the place of and iMac or PC? YES! This Chromebox is the future of computers and I give kudos to Samsung and Google for this technological break through! Dump your tower and join the revolution in computing. Fast! Lightning boot up. Quick internet! Super easy to set up, enter your gmail password and your ready to go! The industry will be going this way but Chromebox technology is here now! Don't even think PC, Don't think iMac, this is the future of computers and it is here with the Chromebox! By the way order the K400 logitech keyboard (it is compatible with chromebox) and you will have the coolest, fastest most trouble free home computer system money can buy. I also own an iMac but the future is Chromebox!