TagChromebook

Falling in love with Google’s CR-48 (again)

I’ve recently fallen back in love with my CR-48 Chromebook. I received it last February and have used it intermittently since then. It’s free Verizon 3G connection has saved me a time or two. Clocking in at just 3.8 pounds and with a better pushing 8 hours it becomes an incredible travel companion.

I’ve been using it to write most of all as I love the feel of the keyboard. It has the short, flat keyboard the first Apple MacBooks made popular and I love the feel of it. It is the first laptop keyboard I’ve ever fallen in love with. The trackpad still leaves much to be desired but it gets better with each new stable release of the Chrome OS.

I do not even use a vast collection of apps for it. It is my sleek, little black book where I share my thoughts and best of all, it stays cool to the touch even after hours of use. Something no other laptop I’ve ever used can boast.

I love the Chromebook but it is not without its shortcomings. I’ve been asked if I would purchase one now that they’re for sale. The answer is still no, but it’s not due to the lack of quality of the Chrome OS. ((Chrome browser with a rudimentary file system attached.)) My reluctance is based on the price they’ve set for the devices.

Now, I am sure the finished machines will have a higher build quality than the small machine sitting neatly in my lap, hopping under the pressure of my key presses. I have not seen any of the Chromebooks in person so I cannot judge them for what they are.

I would love the CR-48 if it were not for a few nagging issues.

Back-lit keyboard. Perhaps this is asking too much but I tend to use the machine in bed or in the evenings when I’m not under a bright light and while I’m practically a touch typist, I am not perfect and seeing the keyboard would be nice. Again, nothing a well-placed lamp wouldn’t solve.

The trackpad. It’s luxurious size betrays its flawed function. If it were as solid as the Apple equivalents this machine would shoot to near perfect status.

Random slowdowns. I don’t know exactly what causes them. I am not viewing flash content at the time. It may be that the two dozen or so tabs overwhelms the machine. I have only had to reboot the machine twice when it became unresponsive but it does tend to slowdown at random.

Power port on the right side. This bothers me. Perhaps it’s because I have the left side of the bed, or the couch is not setup for power on the right, or it could just be MacBook ownership for 4 years prior has conditioned me to expect a left-side power port. It bothers me. Totally personal preference but I don’t care for it.

I have never used the VGA port, SD Card slot and rarely use the USB port. I have used the webcam to take a goofy picture of myself for the login screen and for nothing more. I do not video chat so I have no need for it.

I am very curious to see where Google takes this project and this browser/Operating System. I a devout Chrome user since it has stepped into the place Firefox used to hold. ((The sleek, speedy new kid on the block browser.))

I love my CR-48 and hope to get many more years out of it. There is no reason it should not support the newer versions of Chrome OS since it’s nothing more than software. In the age of most things being web-based it is not far-fetched to live solely inside a browser and even though I still miss running multiple applications, there is very little I find lacking. Sure, you’re not going to edit video or perform high-end graphics work on the Chromebook but that is outside their intended use. For the grandparent, parent, teen or employee with modest web-based needs, the Chromebook can serve their needs very easily.

I have fallen back in love with my Chromebook and see a bright future for the fledgling operating system.

Of Desktops and Writing Environments

I can’t use a desktop anymore. Growing up and all through college I used a desktop. It’s all I had and all I used. When I wanted to compute, I sat at my computer and I computed. Sitting in a chair, at my desk, in my room.

Now, I can’t bring myself to be tethered to the desk. I have a couple of desktop computers around my apartment. They mostly sit and do repetitive tasks which need always-on and always-connected status. They download files and backup data. They keep my information safe. They sit and serve. They are not what I used everyday. They are not the device I reach for when I get home.

At work I have a desktop still, primarily because there’s no “business reason” for me to have a laptop ((If you ignore the netbook the company bought me as a test group to see whether it was worth getting for other employees. It’s not.)) and that works out.

When I get home, the last thing I want to do is sit down at another desk. I rather grab my iPad or a laptop and sit on the couch or out on the balcony, or even lounge in bed with comfy pillows. Sitting at a desk is constricting. I can’t sit next to my wife and be with her. I can’t interact with her because I’m stuck in a single place.

I prefer the mobility of laptops and the iPad. It fits my lifestyle. It fits who I am and what I want to do.

What I reach for when I arrive home all depends on what I want to do. The iPad is mainly for reading. When I want to read, 90% ((Not counting Instapaper reading time)) of the time I pop open the Kindle app and dive into the latest book I’ve borrowed from Lendle.

In that remaining 10% I turn to iBooks and read one of the PDFs or free eBooks I’ve downloaded. I will fill my water bottle and settle into a comfortable place and watch the pages fly by.

When I am in the mood to write I reach for a laptop. Even then, there is some question about what I grab. If I want to write ((as I am now)) and not be distracted or have to lug a heavy weight with me, the Google CR-48 Chromebook it is. It is super light and has great battery life. ((Currently 7 hours remaining at 92%))

I will open a new window and start making the clackity noise in either Simplenote or my new love, Pillarbox.

When I want to do more serious writing which requires research, referencing and piles of tabs and notes I reach for my main laptop, a Lenovo T61 ((I yearn for the day when I can afford a MacBook again)). It is a serviceable machine. WIndows 7 works well enough though it is no Mac OS.

I turn to Windows only when I need to get serious work done. Usually this means I will open Simplenote in half the screen and WriteMonkey on the other half. It is not the “distraction-free” nature of the writing environments that draws me to them, it is their simplicity and stark design. I like having a color palette other than black text on white background. I like the ability to see the word count and little else.

I can stay on task well enough, flipping between my Simplenote notes and Writemonkey’s clean, dark backdrop to my words. I write in Markdown so I prefer plain text to any fancy WYSIWYG editors. I am a big fan of simplicity and portability since I am a very nomadic writer and often use my iPhone to write on my commute. ((I write far more on the iPhone than I do the iPad, even with the external keyboard))