on November 17, 2012
I've had my Chromebook for about two weeks now and have given it an "average use" test run on it over that time. It does what I wanted it to do, has the limitations I'd expected from the reviews I'd read, and is generally excellent value for the price.
--great keyboard--I like the touch and layout in the space. It's a tiny bit "clicky" but not annoyingly so. I miss the delete key and some of the quick key options I'm used to with a PC, but I'm adapting. The most commonly used key commands (for copy, paste, print, save, etc,) are unchanged. I don't like back-lit keyboards so that's not a problem for me. Some reviewers have noted its absence.
--excellent battery life--I've gotten a little over 8 hours on a charge with using it for text/writing, web surfing and having it "sleep" overnight. That's not brilliant, but for a working laptop at this price, I'm a happy camper.
--light weight yet solid. I tend to be gentle with my toys so I'm not bothered by the plastic case. Yes,there may be some give on the keyboard, but only if you have a very hard touch or you're trying to test its limits. (I checked. It flexed, but I had to push.) I'm a fast touch typist with a light touch and I generally don't rest my wrists on the computer when I'm keying so have encountered none of the squeaks or flex that other reviewers have mentioned.
--VERY fast boot and wake up. Actually takes longer to shut down than to boot. Also very easy on the battery during sleep...I left it three days on sleep (unintentionally), yet saw surprising little drain on the battery.
--screen is decent IF you have the right tilt and aren't trying to share it with others. It's a one-person screen. But get the tilt or view angle off by a few degrees and it goes to poor and straight on to unviewable. But what do you expect for the price? (Okay, the screen on my old Acer netbook is better, but that sucker is SMALL.) For most uses, I've set brightness at around 75 or 80%, so that helps. At max brightness, it's plenty bright for me, but not for a couple other people who tried it out.
--Nice size for working. I like my laptops actually on my lap, and the light weight coupled with a good size makes it a very easy machine to work with for hours at a time.
--Surprisingly decent speakers for such a cheap machine. I use a Logitech lapdesk under it so there's no muffling effect of fabric. They aren't high end, by any means, but they're actually significantly better than the speakers on my $900 Toshiba or the several Dell Inspiron laptops I've worked with.
--Quiet (no fans for solid state!) and cool. Very nice!
--I really did enjoy NOT having to install all the other software and going through all the system setup and adjustments that are needed for a new pc. Take it out of the box, plug it in, get on-line, go do something else for 5 minutes, and it's ready to go. When you consider how much those services and software packages can cost, this machine is an even better value than its wallet-friendly $249 price. Add ordering it from Amazon and getting free shipping and it's a super value. And not once it two weeks has the shut down been postponed because the system is "installing 1 of 18 updates" like MS is so fond of doing.
CONS (or at least IFFY)
--Other reviewers had mentioned problems with the browser and web page display. I use Chrome on other computers, both desktops and laptops, and like it a lot. Unfortunately, there really is a problem with Chrome's performance here. I've experimented with setting my 4 year old Acer (1G ram), my Kindle Fire, and the Chromebook to bring up the same page off the same wifi service at about the same time. There were times even the Kindle outperformed the Chromebook, and the Kindle is not a speed demon. I really did expect Chrome to work better than it has on this machine. It's adequate, but not what I would have expected on a machine that is specifically intended to use Chrome as its centerpiece. And it does stutter and seem to lose track of pages at times. This is my single greatest reservation with the thing. I would have liked Netflix capability going in, but knew it wasn't there and crossed it off my list. But I really did expect it to do better with a wider range of websites. That took a star and a half off the review, right there. I also wish I could get rid of the "recently visited" boxes on the screen of each new tab. I prefer either high-use apps or nothing but the background graphic in that space, but haven't figured out how to change it (and haven't tried very hard--it's not that important, just a nuisance).
--Trackpad is acceptable, no better. I've found the trick is to use a firm touch. It's actually less responsive than the trackpad on my old Acer. It helped to set the speed all the way to the top. System works fine with a nano-wireless mouse if you want one. However,an inadvertent brush of your palm will shoot the cursor off somewhere else, which is annoying. It can happen on any laptop, but it does happen more often with the Chromebook.
--I knew going in that I was stuck with Google Docs for offline work (it has improved but still isn't really more than merely acceptable for basic work) or a Chrome app service like Zoho for online work. I actually installed Google Drive on a couple other laptops and a desktop and set it for offline work to test it out before I ordered the Chromebook . The print facility and offline performance were okay, but I'm still counting off a half star because Google docs isn't wonderful and you have no other real options on this system .
Update Dec 16, 2012: I've been experimenting with MS Office Web Apps through SkyDrive on the Chromebook and been very pleased. So long as I have a wireless connection I can edit and work on my Word and Excel documents with ease. Some of the quick key commands aren't available since Chromebook doesn't have the same keyboard structure, which isn't a huge problem (I use a lot of keyboard commands in preference to the mouse because it's so much faster). Of course, you have to be online to take advantage of the apps, which means you're still stuck with Google Drive and Google Docs when you're offline so the half star off remains. I assume the same on-line functionality would apply if you're a regular Mac person and use CloudOn, but can't confirm that.
--the ports on the back side are set a little close. I haven't had problems because I'm not using them for much except the mouse on occasion, but it could be a problem for those who want to connect multiple devices.
Overall, the Chromebook is a good value and a decent machine. I'd buy another...unless I suddenly, miraculously, join the ranks of the wealthy 1% who think the cost of a top-of-the line Mac or ultrabook, plus software, is just pocket change. Until then,I'll stick with my Chromebook as a light-weight, long battery life alternative for basic writing/spreadsheet work and some web surfing or email.
Update Dec 16, 2012: For what the Chromebook can do well, I love it. Love love love the keyboard. Love the light weight and long battery life and fast boot. It's so easy to grab and check something. Love being able to work in bed, out in the yard, haul it around without having 7 pounds of computer and chargers in the bag on my shoulder or worrying whether the battery will last. However, Chrome still hangs up on the web. Example: Every week, I check the NFL standings [Go, Broncos!!] and every single time,Chromebook hangs up....I scroll down the page, then I scroll back up and find I have to refresh the page because some of the information bars from the very top of the page are now superimposed on the stats. Never happens on Chrome on any of my other machines--I checked--so this is definitely a Chromebook problem. Still,I expect the problem will be resolved eventually. If not with updates to this OS,in future editions of Chromebook. And I'll definitely be in line to order the next generation when it arrives.