As I posted last week, my beloved computer died on me. Actually, it was the hard drive. The second one. I’m very hard on hard drives because I keep my computer on 24/7. I hate rebooting because if I stop in the middle of a project in the middle of the night, I don’t want to lose my train of thought the next morning.
My train of thought is, well, easily derailed these days. I’m no spring chicken, you know. More like a fall-going-into-winter-chicken. Which, I suppose, is better than being a fall-going-into-winter-turkey.
I’ve been using my son’s little HP Chromebook (actually called a Stream). Isaiah doesn’t need a powerful computer for working. He just needs something for accessing the Internet and playing around with social media. (He’s already graduated from high school. He used an iPad for schoolwork.)
Basically, the way I understand it, a Chromebook is more or less just like a smartphone. While it doesn’t have the power to have a lot of windows open at the same time (something I’m famous for) or to edit things like videos, it can still do quite a bit.
Here are the specs (for those who understand them) on this particular model. Keep in mind, these Chromebooks come in all sorts of sizes. This one is on the lower end of the scale. Extremely affordable at around $200.
Intel Celeron processor
2 GB RAM (in other words, very little power/speed)
32 GB SSD (This is the driver; it’s solid state which makes up a little bit for small RAM, but 32 GB is not very much on an android/PC device and I’ve had to limit the amount of apps to the very basics if I’m going to save any documents or pictures to the laptop itself.)
The idea of these types of laptops is to use the cloud or google drive to store your pictures and documents. But I’m leery of storing everything online, and like to have my own backups. So what I’m doing until my own laptop gets here, is saving a document, then emailing it to myself. Then I delete it off of this one. It’s a pain. It takes time. But at least I can transfer these files to the new laptop when it gets here.
Let me clarify. I only email those files that are extremely important for me to find when my laptop gets here. Others either go in the cloud, or get deleted permanently.
Some things I don’t like about this Chromebook:
- The touchpad is very sticky and slow.
- It really doesn’t have the power to browse websites with pop-ups. I don’t browse too many like that unless it’s for research or reading the news. This particular Chromebook can’t handle it.
- The screen resolution isn’t great but it’s not horrible.
- Doesn’t have enough memory to leave a lot of windows open at once or to multi-task. Why do I need to do that, you ask? Sometimes I leave windows open to remember to go back to them. Other times I may need to have Thesaurus.com, my blog site, email, and a photo editing program open all at the same time. Working efficiently and quickly often means having several programs or websites open at once.
- I can’t edit videos. It just doesn’t have the power. Therefore, my video work has come to a screeching halt.
What I like about this Chromebook:
- I’m pleasantly surprised at how well the word processing works on this laptop. It’s as fast as my regular laptop.
- For getting basic writing done, it’s a great little machine. I like that I can focus on my writing and I’m not distracted by other things I could do on a regular laptop.
- I love the size and weight. I’m toying with the idea of buying one for taking it to a coffee shop or to church to take notes on. The size is fantastic and the keyboard is still big enough to be comfortable typing on. (But, since Mr. Himself doesn’t understand why I’d need a second laptop, purchasing one of these cute little things for myself is probably not going to happen…)
- If you use Chrome for your browser, it saves all your settings when you use it on another machine as long as you sign in to your gmail account. I didn’t realize this for about a week and was using my son’s Firefox browser. So now, after downloading Chrome, I’ve been able to log in to my various sites (such as this blog) easily and get stuff DONE!
Conclusion: The Chromebook is a great option if you’re in-between computers, or your main computer is in the shop getting repaired. You can still be productive in quite a few areas as long as what you’re doing doesn’t take up a lot of memory and doesn’t require a lot of speed.
I also see why schools use it for homework activities. While they may not be able to do a lot of fancy video editing, basic homework assignments can be done on this machine. (I get to experience this when I start student teaching in August! Yay!)
I look at it this way. iPads/tablets are great for consuming things like books and movies but not so great for creating documents. I’m glad the schools in our district have switched to using laptops instead of tablets.
Bottom line: a Chromebook is a good option for getting simple writing tasks done and answering emails.
Have you ever used a Chromebook? Weigh in!