It got to be too much. As I slowly slipped further and further in a Google world, I began to notice a Chromebook curiosity growing inside of me. As each day went on, it continued to get more and more reasonable to try a Chromebook. I found myself working more and more out of my Chrome web browser on my MacBook Pro. Google Plus was better than Facebook, Gmail had ways of being better than Apple Mail, Google Calendar had ways of being better than iCal. Google Docs keeps getting better and now covers all of my office needs and its collaboration features are far superior to any desktop app out there. Immediately after “trying” Google Drive, I was sucked in and completely won over by it. It just worked that good. It wasn’t long before the idea of doing all of that on a $250 laptop become irresistible. So I bought one. As I began using my new Chromebook, suffering some withdrawals from leaving my Mac, I made these notes:

  1. I miss Mail/iCal integration
  2. I miss using delete key to delete messages in Mail
  3. Track-pad feels cheap

I was planning on jotting more of these things down as I used the Chromebook, but I seemed to stop there after only 3 things. It worked so good, I think I found it more natural to accept its differences and get my work done. I do miss those things above but the rest of the system works so well, not having those things now seems pretty minor. The track-pad seems to have worn in somehow, or I just got used to it, because I think it works and feels fine now. I can add a a few more things that I miss:

  1. Light up keyboard
  2. My beautiful apple screen
  3. Aluminum uni-body construction
  4. Power adapter convenience and ubiquity

These things only make me realize that it does not make sense at all to compare a MacBook Pro to a Chromebook. They are Apples to Oranges, so to speak. One of the amazing things about the Chromebook is how amazingly well it gets the job done for only $250. Here are some things I really like about it (and miss when I try my mac again for a while):

  1. Super thin
  2. Very light
  3. Instantly turns on and loads everything up
  4. Logging in to the laptop automatically authenticates me for all my Google apps
  5. Very few software interruptions (like updates)
  6. Fewer frills to go wrong

My conclusion is that I strongly recommend this solution for the large majority of computer users. Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if a Chromebook can work for you:

  • Do you need to use any non-Web based apps?
  • Do all of the Web based apps you need to use work in the Chrome browser?
  • Do you need to connect directly to any local devices like printers?

All apps on the Chromebook are web based and run within Chrome browser technology. So the first two questions are meant to test your needs compatibility with this requirement. The last question is about the fact that you cannot install drivers for these type of devices to connect to the Chromebook. It connects fine to USB sticks, keyboards, mice, but printer, scanner, etc are another thing. It must print using other methods like Cloud Print technology. If these things are not deal breakers for you, you will be thrilled with this system. I can’t help drawing a comparison to Linux. Being a longtime Linux advocate, this whole experience has a feeling of “Finally!” While the Chrome OS is not Linux, you can use Linux just like this using the Chrome Browser. In addition, Linux systems do have a huge number of non-Web based apps available and you can connect printers and scanner etc to them. The major difference I notice in my experience between using Linux on a laptop and using a Chromebook is that, much like with Apple products, I can feel an optimization and polish between the OS and the hardware. The WiFi always works, the battery is predictable, it goes in and out of sleep without issue. This is not always the case with Linux on a laptop in my experience. There seems to always be one thing on a laptop needing an experimental Linux driver. Things greatly improve in this regard for Linux every year, but on the Chromebook, these things just work well and reliably.

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