on March 5, 2014
I'm in my last semester (hopefully) of my undergrad and my 4 year old HP Envy quit on me in the first week of this semester. I've had my Chromebook for about a month now, so I think I'm a little qualified to leave a pretty accurate review.
Overall, I absolutely love my Chromebook. It is an amazing little device and I will probably never go back to a PC (I'm not a Mac person at all so I can't compare it to them). Now, as a disclaimer, I am not someone who does online gaming or software video editing. At most, I'll edit some pictures and maybe edit some music files, so I cannot attest to this devices ability to fulfill those needs (though it doesn't seem like it would be very compatible with them). However, as someone who needs a computer mostly for internet, research, email, music, social networking, and document editing, this thing is amazing.
1. Speed. This thing is a beast. It comes out of a sleep faster than my Kindle will start up (if I shut it down, not just if I wake it up from sleeping). It's kind of incredible how fast it boots. Internet browsing and document editing is awesome, video viewing is great (YES, this OS IS great for Netflix and online streaming, don't believe what you've heard if it is contrary to what I just said).
2. Display. I really like the Chrome OS layout (it's pretty similar to Windows 7, which I liked a lot more than any devices with Windows 8 that I've tried--my phone has Windows 8 and I kind of hate it now that I have my Chromebook). It's intuitive and simple--the whole setup process for me took like ten minutes tops.
3. Sync with Google. I can access all of my stuff EVERYWHERE. I used Google Drive before, but not as heavily. It is soooo so nice to have all of your material on whatever computer you may have access to.
4. Apps. Google has come out with some really useful apps for these devices and they're only making more.
5. Hardware. I love the way this Acer laptop is set up. The sound is surprisingly wonderful for such a small machine, AND it has separate "speakers' and "headphones" settings for sound. No more plugging my headphones in, forgetting I had the volume cranked earlier that day, and having my ear drums blown out. It's a simple but beautiful thing and I don't know why more manufacturers don't do it. The top row of keys is as follows: Escape, Back (internet browser button), Forward, Refresh, Fullscreen, I don't know what to call the next button but if you hit it it brings all the things you have open up on your desktop screen and you can click on what you want to go to, Dimmer, Brighter, Mute, Volume Down, Volume Up, Power. The "programs" button is awesome, I use it all the time to get to something else that I have open but don't want to scroll through everything to find, and having the internet back, forward, and refresh buttons on the keyboard is surprisingly nice. Some people say they're worried about hitting the power button accidentally, but to turn it off you have to hold it for a few seconds, so it's difficult to do it by accident. The screen is matte, so you can still see things if you're outside or by a window, and the trackpad is awesome--two finger scroll, click with two fingers for a right click, and you can enable tap to click in the settings (which I was thrilled with because I hate pushing down every time). Unfortunately, though, there's no zoom feature on the trackpad. That's my only complaint about it. This thing is SO lightweight overall--with my old computer, if I lugged it around campus my shoulders would kill me, but with this one I can barely tell it's in my backpack.
6. Sleep/Occasional Crash Recovery. Any time I've put this to sleep, turned it off without closing things, or had it run out of memory and need to restart abruptly, I have not lost a single thing. Are crashes desirable? No. Do they happen? Yes. Does this thing deal with them well? Absolutely. On a computer with only 2 gb of RAM I kind of expected a few crashes because I can be a heavy internet browser, but when it restores itself, all my tabs come back and whatever I was working on is safe.
7. Battery Life. Battery life battery life oh my gosh battery life. I am AMAZED with it. One day I was using it to watch Netflix and bum around on the internet and the battery was at about 60% and I didn't have to plug it in for FIVE hours. On a full charge, it will do at least 8 if you're not watching videos, and about 6 or 7 if you are. It's absolutely incredible and if it's the one reason you buy this computer, I wouldn't judge that decision (other than to say it's totally reasonable). It's wonderful and cannot be matched. It's also super convenient when I need to take it to class and am not sitting close to a power outlet. My old HP would get 3 hours MAX when the batter was new. If this computer only lasted 3 hours, I would wonder what was wrong with it. The lack of a need to plug in is a beautiful, beautiful thing and it is definitely unparalleled.
8. Google Docs. At first I was worried about not having Microsoft Word, but honestly, Google's line of word processing programs are so similar that it doesn't even matter. You can save things as .docx or .pdf and then anyone can view them in the "traditional" format. It's absolutely not necessary to have Microsoft Word. Plus, there are plenty of converter apps that Google has to view things from other people and turn them into Google Docs so you can edit them, and then turn them back into pdfs or whatever you need.
1. Sometimes it crashes. It happens with all computers. However, as I said, it reboots well and I've never lost anything.
2. The fact that all my stuff is on the cloud... I'm a little uncomfortable with it. I have an external hard drive with most of my files on it (especially videos and stuff). I've never had any problems with hacking, but it worries me slightly. However, Google is constantly improving security, so I'm not ALL that worried. The nice thing is that you can set up "2 Step Verification," so when you (or potentially someone else) log into your google account from a previously unused computer, you have to supply your password AND google sends your phone a text with a code to put in. You have to have your phone to log in, but this gives me a little more peace of mind.
3. Desire to Learn (this online software that my school uses for virtually everything) issues. The dropbox on Desire to Learn won't let me upload files. This has been an absolute pain and I have to make sure that I either have my Kindle Fire charged so I can send PDFs to it and then upload them with that, or that I'm on campus so I can use a public computer to turn in my assignment. This is my biggest complaint and I hope I can resolve it eventually, though I don't know how I could do it on my own.
4. Printing. I haven't sat down yet to try to connect my printer to cloud print. I know there are directions, I know you are supposed to be able to print with Chromebooks, but there are so many extra steps that I just haven't bothered with it yet. I've resorted to printing on my campus and my printer has gone dormant. Maybe eventually I'll hook it up and change this to a pro, but for now, it's a hindrance.
5. File Explorer. The file explorer is pretty simple but is sometimes kind of glitchy. Usually if I put my computer to sleep and wake it up again it solves that problem, but it's annoying nonetheless.
Overall, if you're not a huge gamer or video editor, this computer is amazing. All these great features combined with the outstanding price make it a fantastic choice for those who just use computers for internet and document editing. Contrary to Microsoft's Chrome OS slam commercials, IT IS NOT USELESS WITHOUT AN INTERNET CONNECTION. No, you can't access websites, but you can't do that offline with a PC anyway. You can still make documents and they'll just save to your small hard drive and sync with Google Drive later. It saves the most recent things you've worked on, and if you want more you can use an external hard drive or flash drive (or physically move files to the offline drive) to access more files offline. Honestly, though, I'm so rarely without an internet connection that it doesn't even matter anyway.
I would recommend this computer wholeheartedly (and have many times in the past month). It's compact, intuitive, useful, and does almost everything a common PC will do. If you have any other questions that I didn't address, just ask :)