Matthew Gates 13m 3,195 #chromebook
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Chromebook: It Offers More Than You Think
Why I Recommend The Chromebook
Would you be willing to give up your Windows PC or Macbook to run your business or work freelance solely on a Chromebook? If you run a business, you most likely run it entirely on the Internet, and without an Internet connection, many businesses end up useless, and most believe there is no exception for the Chromebook, which may seem completely useless without Internet, but it offers a great deal of offline activity and functions, especially if you learn to make the Chromebook more than just a Chromebook running ChromeOS.
For years, I had been resistant to buy a Chromebook, thinking it could do nothing for me, and it was just an overpriced Chrome web browser from Google that I did not need. I was definitely one of those people who could never be sold on a Chromebook and although I left the Windows world years ago, after my Windows XP Toshiba laptop died during final exams while in college, nothing was ever going to take the place of my beloved Macbook Pro. I had a Macbook before a Macbook Pro, which also died after a year, but having grown to love the Mac OS X, the Macbook would always be my primary computer. However, I finally gave the Chromebook a chance, figuring that if I did not like it, I could always resell the Chromebook for even more than what I paid. But the more I use it, the more I realize I have no intentions of selling it.
A few years ago, I saw a great deal on one of my favorite bargain deal websites, Woot!, which sold out of the Chromebook within just a few hours. My mom bought the original Chromebook, which had an 11 inch screen. This was way too small for me, and apparently, it ended up hurting her eyes as well. She wanted a bigger screen, so we went back to Best Buy, returned the product, and she bought the White 14 inch HP Chromebook for about $300. I used it for a few minutes, and I liked it, but again, I was not ready to make the switch just then.
It was set in my mind that my primary computer was all I needed and the Chromebook was not going to replace it. Fortunately for me, this offer I found was $200 for the same exact Chromebook and included FREE HIGH-SPEED INTERNET HSPA+ (Evolved High-Speed Packet Access) in the form of 200 MB from T-Mobile each month for life. It was an offer I could not refuse, and after an intense argument and debate with myself, I convinced myself that this was a good deal and it was the best thing for me. In fact – I have no regrets for making the purchase.
Without the FREE HIGH-SPEED INTERNET HSPA+, the Chromebook can still connect to the Internet if you are lucky to be in an area where everyone has Comcast/Xfinity, as Comcast is turning all home routers into wifi-connectable routers, but you must already be a subscriber of Comcast, with a username and password in order to connect and roam the Internet. Connecting to any router will not affect their speed, as the connecting user will only get a max of about 15 mbps, allowing for up to 5 connections.
Forking over $200 for a laptop that was going for $350 to $400 on Amazon (since writing this confession, the price of this Chromebook has dropped to less than $200 — and the version of this Chromebook may no longer be sold), Walmart, and most other stores was definitely a great deal, especially with the T-Mobile offer. While the offer of 200 MB per month is probably one of the smartest things T-Mobile could ever do, they do it purely for the sole purpose of our Internet addiction and their own marketing purposes.
Yes, they lure you in and get you as a customer, but T-Mobile has definitely gotten a lot better over the years, and as far as I know, they offer the best plan over Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon. 200 MB sounds great for a Tablet or an iPhone, but for a Chromebook, it is hardly enough. Since the time of this writing, Verizon also has plans that come with a specific Chromebooks, set at 100 MB of free data. With either plan, the data is not much. You can pretty much go to a few web pages, send a few emails, maybe watch a YouTube video or three out of it, and your Internet is done for the month.
The good thing about T-Mobile’s plans are that after you use them up, they don’t just cut you off, they simply slow your speed down to DSL levels. Though, if you are on the 200 MB plan, they will kill your Internet usage, so it will not work. You have to have at least a more upgraded plan in order to not lose Internet completely. I purchased the plan for a backup Internet, since I don’t have a primary Internet connection, and refuse to get one in my apartment. I ended up purchasing a plan at $10 a month for 5 GB which was usually enough for what I do on my computer, as Netflix is free streaming, and mostly just checking my emails, programming, and writing articles and/or processing other articles for Confessions of the Professions. (Unfortunately, T-Mobile no longer offers this deal), but I have since upgraded from this plan to T-Mobile One (which offers unlimited Internet for around $25 a month–plans may differ depending on the current promotions they are running).
In researching tips, advice, and articles about the Chromebook, I find that most people have a love or hate relationship with the Chromebook. I have only owned the Chromebook for about 2 months and find I am on it more than I am on my beloved 5-year old still-fast Macbook Pro, which is still going strong with 8 GB memory and a little space left on the 160 GB harddrive.
Whether online or offline, I find use for it, mostly in writing articles. I also use GIMP as my Photoshop application, the Steam Gaming platform, LibreOffice, Skype, and a whole bunch of other applications directly on my Chromebook, making it as useful as my Macbook. Even if you are a programmer and need something more than just a Text Editor, you will find that there is something for everyone. The only thing I lack without the Internet is access to Pandora, YouTube, or a means to listening music and looking up things on search engines.
So lets get to the whole point of everyone’s complaining: For the average user, a Chromebook is plenty. Anytime anyone hops on a computer, 90% of the time, they are on the Internet, and if they are not, they are using some type of Word Document, playing a video game, or watching a DVD movie. The complaints come when something needs to be done on the Internet and there is no Internet. Also, the Chromebook does lack a DVD/CD-ROM which would make it impossible to watch a movie. This is minor, as you can always go buy a cheap DVD player and watch it on your television.
Whether you love or hate your Chromebook, the Chromebook offers you more than you think, especially if you purchased the 4GB DDR3 (fixed) of memory laptop version. You really do not need much more than that. If you do, a MicroSD Memory Card will serve as a USB drive for increased memory storage. The laptop itself is pretty top notch with affordable hardware inside the machine, whether you purchase it from Acer, HP, Samsung, or any other distributor, you will find these are all good companies that deliver good components.
On ChromeOS alone, you will find that the laptop loads up almost instantly, within 5 to 8 seconds, and if you have several Chrome tabs open, after surfing YouTube, Facebook, the Internet, writing emails, and a blog post, you may find yourself two hours in – only having used no more than about 10% of your battery life.
On the other hand, this is where you can make the Chromebook much more. By installing Linux on to the computer, while having ChromeOS in the background simultaneously, requiring only one restart which can take up to 15 or 20 minutes, when putting the Chromebook into Developer Mode. After this, I highly recommend installing Crouton, which is like a light version of Ubuntu Linux, giving you access to the Terminal, and all the Linux software you could ever want and need.
On a computer with only 16 GB, you might think that is very little space, but after installing some things I needed, and other things I probably did not need, I found myself with about 5 GB of total storage left on my computer, which is plenty left over. Although I never had the intention to make my Chromebook a gaming computer, the possibility to install smaller games on Linux is there. I have even seen a Chromebook running The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim on Linux.
On the bright side of using a Chromebook for personal use or business use, you will never have to worry about viruses or malware and updates are usually seldom and quick. Chromebooks do not come with bloated software that are installed on the computer and ChromeOS itself is less than 1 GB. Once you have installed Linux, you have opened the computer up to many new virus-free possibilities, and free software, as well as never really having to worry about the computer taking forever to load up, freezing, and not really knowing what the heck is going on in the background, or even slowing down the longer you own the computer.
Figure this for your pricing by using a Chromebook if you are a start-up or a company looking to improve your budget:
|Chromebook Price:||$150 – $500|
|Software for Crouton:||$0|
|Cost to train your employees on using Chromebooks:||Very Low – If they have never used Google Chrome, they may need to update themselves on using it, which you can just tell them to go home, download it on their computers, and browse the internet using Chrome on their own time, costing you nothing|
– If they have never used Linux, it is really simple – like learning how to use a Windows computer, click the “Applications Menu” or whatever the label is, find the software that is needed, and use it
– The biggest learning curve is switching back and forth between Crouton and ChromeOS, which you can always decide as a business to keep it strictly Crouton and download Chrome right on to Crouton and use it from there
|Cost of Hosting Services or Email:||$0 depending on what you use|
– Google Drive is free (15 GB including email space)
– Amazon Cloud
– Any service you deem safe
– USB disk drives can also be utilized so all files are stored on there, though it is recommended nowadays that your business uses some type of Cloud service or storage for backup purposes
|Cost of Additional Storage||$20 – $40 32 GB MicroSD Memory Card / 64 GB MicroSD Memory Card|
– Most standard Chromebooks will come with a set amount hard drive disk space around 10 GB to 32 GB and more can be added through the SD Card Slot
|Total Cost:||$200 – $450 (does not include price of Chromebook Technician)|
And the rest is left to whatever real business costs you incur. The only other real cost related to the Chromebook you will incur is hiring a Technical Support guy to set up each Chromebook with the necessary software and clear up any technical issues, which should be very minimal, if any should occur.
The Chromebook is more than just a useless brick or block, especially when a cellular data plan is added. It is a powerful tool that has become more than what most people have made it out to be. The battery life is amazing. I can get away with 2 or 3 hours on my Macbook, but with a Chromebook, I can get away with 6 to 8 hours without charging and that includes watching one or two full length Netflix movies. How long does it take to charge a dead Chromebook to a full charge? It took a little less than 2 hours. For those people that are complaining, they have not done their research. Even people without much knowledge of computers can install Crouton within an hour on their computer and learn how to use it.
If there is any advantage for anyone: It is that every person, whether they are making minimum wage, or a hefty salary, can afford a Chromebook, and make it their primary computers. It was Google’s intention to change the world, and Google has done just that: Nearly everyone can now buy an affordable computer. There may even someday be a small market to sell Chromebooks that come pre-installed with Crouton/Linux on them and allow for users to switch back and forth between the two operating systems.
There is only one major issue that comes to mind for businesses considering on switching to a Chromebook and this one single issue may prevent them from considering any switch. The issue is printing. While Google Cloud Print allows for most Chromebooks to connect and print to more modern printers, older prints will still have issues, and your business may still need to keep at least one primary Windows computer, with Internet access, hooked up to the printer. Even with a USB drive on the Chromebook, it would still lack the ability to understand how to read drivers from printer. As a workaround to this issue, however, employees could easily drag their work into a print folder on Google Drive, and then use the primary Windows computer to print their documents, or your business could just invest in a printer that allows for printing to be done through the Google Cloud Print service.
In addition to all this, Google, like almost all “Cloud” and “Internet” companies make security a top priority. Nothing is ever fully secure and data may always have that potential vulnerability, but here is an official document on Built-In Security for the Chromebook:
In today’s world, any website – even well-known, legitimate ones – may be infected with malware. Just by visiting an infected web page, ordinary computers can get infected as well. Malware can exploit flaws in your browser to steal passwords, company data, and financial information. It happens to millions of people without their knowledge.
The most effective way to protect against malware is to make sure all software is up to date and has the latest security fixes. This can be difficult to manage on traditional operating systems with many software components from many vendors all with different update mechanisms and user interfaces. Chromebooks manage updates automatically so Chromebooks are always running the latest and most secure version.
On a Chromebook, each web page and application runs in a restricted environment called a “sandbox”. So if the Chromebook is directed to an infected page, it can’t affect the other tabs or apps on the computer, or anything else on the machine. The threat is contained.
Even if malware manages to escape the sandbox, the Chromebook is still protected. Every time the Chromebook starts up, it does a self check called Verified Boot. If it detects that the system has been tampered with, or corrupted in any way, typically it will repair itself without any effort, taking the Chromebook back to an operating system that’s as good as new.
When using web apps on a Chromebook, all important data is stored safely in the cloud. Certain kinds of files, like downloads, cookies, and browser cache files, may still be present on the computer. The Chromebook encrypts all this data using tamper-resistant hardware, making it very difficult for anyone to access those files.
If anything goes wrong with your Chromebook, you can simply push a button to enter the hardware-backed recovery mode and restore the operating system to a known good version.
One of the best things that I love personally about the Chromebook is that it is nearly immune to almost all computer viruses and malware. Can you possibly install an extension that is infected with malware or a Chromebook toolbar? Absolutely. In fact, I had a recent experience with this on my mother’s Chromebook. The solution to fix it was quite easy. At first, I had her powerwash her Chromebook, thinking perhaps she downloaded a file, but this did not resolve the issue. Unfortunately, once her account synced back up and all extensions loaded, the problem arose and she was locked out of her computer. I then actually logged into her account from my own Chromebook (I live in another state) and I removed the toolbar and two extensions that were causing issues, logged out, and had her login and the issue was resolved. So while there was no actual virus, there are some extensions that have malware embedded into them.
There are plenty of articles claiming the Chromebook will fail as a personal or business computer. While it is true that the Chromebook is not for everyone, the fact that the ChromeOS developers allow for there to be a Developer Mode with the ability for Linux to be installed allows for the Chromebook to be much more than what most reviewers could ever imagine. The Chromebook with ChromeOS alone can be useful, but without Internet and a few web applications, it will lack the features of a useful computer. However, with some easy tinkering and about a half hour, you can install Linux along with every application you will ever need. 4 GB might not seem like a lot to a Windows or Mac OS X computer, but to Linux and ChromeOS, it is enough to keep the computer powerful and fast. With this in mind, those articles bashing and rejecting the Chromebook as a useful computer are not providing the most accurate information.
If you make the switch or if you are a business that has come to use the Chromebook as your primary computer, let us know about it in the comments! We would love to hear your story!
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