Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
Super long first impressions with updates over time
on June 13, 2015
Just as a disclaimer, I got this less than 48 hours ago, so these are definitely first impressions. I will likely add edits at the bottom of this original review as I get to know the laptop better. Hopefully I'll also remember to add photos.
I have the grey model with 4gb of ram and 16gb of storage.
First off, my last laptop was a beastly gaming laptop. I sold that because I had stopped playing games so the only thing i did on my laptop anymore was watch youtube, which a chromebook is perfect for. This thing is extremely fast. booting up feels like it takes less time than the advertised 7 seconds, although I haven't measured it. I haven't seen this thing slow down once, even when using linux (more about that later).
The touchscreen is amazing and pretty much required on chromebooks because all of the android apps are coming to chrome, and they are optimized for touch. The keyboard usable. Pretty much what you would expect from a cheap laptop. The trackpad is good, but not quite to the level of Apple's touchpads (I'm not talking about the force touch one on the new macbook). The only time I saw anything go slowly was when I was using a mouse. The mouse is wireless (It connects using a usb dongle) and every couple minutes it would freeze, but a second or two later it would go back to normal.
Chrome OS is great. It can't do photoshop or video editing, but everything else is great. Making powerpoints, word documents, surfing the web, netflix, and youtube are all easy to do. The Chrome app store has a respectable selection, and this is going to grow immensely very soon because google is working on porting over all of the android apps onto chromebooks! Obviously this can't play super intensive pc games, but you should expect that from a $300 laptop whether it has chrome os or not, and the same goes for photoshop and video editing.
If you're a nerd like me then you might consider putting linux on this machine. I am currently using crouton to have xfce with ubuntu 14.04, and it's amazing. Switching between the two OS' is very fast with crouton and the machine doesn't slow down at all when both are loaded at the same time. I love having linux on here. It allows me to play minecraft and run Nintendo DS games. Even more important for me is the fact that I like to mess with my android phone by rooting it and installing custom roms, which often requires you to connect your phone to the computer and run an application that is more complicated than what chrome os can handle. Surprisingly, linux didn't even take up that much space on my disk. Before installing, I think i had something like 8.8gb free and now i have 6.8gb.
Here is a guide to installing linux:
You may be looking at that tiny 16gb hard drive and wondering how anyone could possibly live off that much. This notebook does come with 100gb of google drive, so most people will be satisfied with that, but if you really want to upgrade the storage, you have two options. The first is not for the faint of heart but the second is an average joe's solution, which I would recommend.
1) You could use this guide to directly upgrade your ssd. Just a warning, this will void your warranty and it will cost more, but it will be much easier to use once all is said and done.
2) You could buy a low profile flash drive off amazon wich will add lots of storage for cheap without getting in the way of anything. Remember that if you get a usb 3.0 drive rather than a 2.0, you should put the drive on the left side of your chromebook. I recomend this one on amazon.
This thing is very thin and light, but then again, anything would feel thin and light after using my 15 inch gaming notebook. One big downside is that the keyboard is not backlit, which would make it easier to type in the dark. I'm a touch typer with a gwam of 80, but I struggle to touch anything that isn't a letter, shift, or enter, so a backlit keyboard would be very helpful for late night browsing. I have found some stickers on amazon that you can put on all of the keys and they are supposed to reflect the light of the monitor, but a lot of the reviews are bad. I will post an update if I do get those. This is just nitpicking, but the hinge isn't weighted properly, which means that in order to open the laptop, you have to grip both the screen and body rather than just lifting the screen.
As far as ports go this does pretty good. One usb 3.0 and one 2.0. I would appreciate one or two more, but chromebooks are made for people who only browse the web, so I wouldn't blame them if they only put one. The hdmi port is very usefull for me but every once in awhile it will stop sending signal to my external monitor, and I'll have to wiggle the cord. I'm not sure if it's the chromebook's fault or the monitor's, but i would guess it's not due to the chromebook because the monitor is pretty old. I will post an update if I find out which device is causing the problem and if I find a solution. Unfortunately the SD cards poke out a lot, which was a huge bummer because I was planning on using an SD card as a permanent way to expand storage so that I wouldn't have to use one of the two usb ports. There is also a kensington lock and one 3.5mm headphone jack that I'm guessing will also take input from a microphone.
Okay so I've had this laptop for a bit over a week now and I'm liking it. I haven't exactly tested the battery life, and while I don't think it meets that 7 hour mark that they advertise, that is probably because I like my screens at full brightness and I run linux alongside chrome os with crouton, which probably isn't exactly optimized for the best battery life. Speaking of linux, I have it installed but I've found that I haven't needed to use it much, if at all. I frequently open it and then forget about it, which probably uses up a lot of battery and ram. The only performance issue I've found while using linux is that when linux is running and I'm watching a youtube video on chrome os, the video tends to stutter a lot. This also could be because of my internet, but I'd be willing to bet it's the computer not being able to handle both at the same time (More information will come in my next edit) . But casual web browsing while linux is open is just fine. Also, I found that if you install linux right after a clean wipe, you still have 7gb of storage left. Keep in mind that I installed xfce and ubuntu 14.04, so if you install different distros and desktop environments your mileage may vary.
I recently discovered that you can run gameboy games on a chromebook so of course I started downloading a ton of pokemon rom files. I'm glad I got a low profile usb drive to expand my storage because linux and all those rom files probably wouldn't fit on the tiny 16gb of storage this thing has. Luckily my 64gb flash drive has plenty of space. Unfortunately that flash drive isn't as low lying as I thought (the one I linked above sticks out about half the length of my thumb fingernail, which I'm guessing is a bit over half a centimeter (I'm too lazy to go find a ruler). If you are going to use a low profile usb to expand your storage then I recommend taping it to the chromebook because that prevents it from being removed. Of course, that will only be useful if you don't plan to remove it.
Unfortunately the keyboard is not backlit which means it is next to impossile to read in the dark. I think earlier in this review I mentioned some keyboard stickers that are supposed to glow in the dark but I found a somewhat better solution. In the settings I enabled the on screen keyboard. It's not nearly as fast as normal typing but it makes typing in the dark much easier. This is somewhat annoying in the daytime when I can see the normal keyboard just fine because it takes up about a third of the screen, but if you need to see the entire screen then there's a button on the bottom right that temporarily removes it.
I may be a bit biased since I'm coming from a beastly gaming laptop, but this thing doesn't get ho. I can have it in my lap without even noticing any heat and the only place that gets remotely warm is the area between the keyboard and the screen, but you never touch that and it's barely warm. In a quiet room you can hear the fans but if there's any little bit of noise around you whatsoever, whether it be from the laptop or something else, then you can't hear it.
This thing is great. I have linux installed but I never seem to use it, which shows that not everybody needs a full desktop operating system like windows or linux.
Bravo to you if you read this entire thing. Can you tell that I use this to seem like I'm writing an essay for school just to get out of things I don't want to do? ;P