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Chromebooks are popping up everywhere. They are not powerhouses in terms of specs on paper, but they are still popular. Let me explain to you why I love my chromebook.
The chromebook that I currently have is the Acer C720. This is an older chromebook, but I can do almost everything I need for work and play. I provide IT services for multiple customers and I was looking for a device that is portable enough for me to move back and forth between multiple locations. At first I considered a tablet, but without a physical keyboard, it is very difficult to type fast and be productive. Let’s face it, typing with your thumbs or using one finger at a time is not ideal. All of the servers I setup for my customers can be administered through a web browser. I tried using the web browser on a smartphone and tablet, but the experience was horrible. Even with “Desktop Site” enabled, the scaling was just off and was difficult to navigate. The advantage of a chromebook is that you will always have the desktop version of a website instead of a mobile version. I can also remotely control my own computers or a customer’s computer if they need me to troubleshoot something for them.
When I was a graduate student, the chromebook fulfilled all of my needs for school. The chromebook will not be perfect for all students. Since was a business and IT student, I did not use specialized software that is only found on Windows or Mac. Using Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides have replaced Microsoft Office for me. If you try using the android or IOS apps for Docs, Sheets, and Slide, you will most likely have very crippled office applications. However, since you are getting full websites on a chromebook, the transition from Microsoft Office to Google Docs was seamless. Because my professors always request APA format for my papers, I was very happy that I was able to format my papers correctly on the chromebook.
It is great that streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and CrunchyRoll work well on the C720. If you install an ad blocker onto a chromebook, almost all ads from YouTube are blocked. Because of this feature, I find myself watching more video content from the chromebook instead of my phablet or tablet.
I have heard some people say that chromebooks are useless bricks without the internet. I would like to say that this is not true. Without internet connection, I can still access my documents from Drive. I can even edit my documents offline as well. The second my chromebook has internet access again, all of the changes I made in Google Drive or Google Docs are synced. I was also able to play movies and music that are stored on an SD card. Even without an internet connection, it is possible to still be productive. I will admit that you can’t do everything on a chromebook without internet connection. When you think about it, what will you use your Windows or Mac PC for if you do not have an internet connection? I remember when my home internet connection was down for maintenance, my wife never touched her Windows PC or tablet. When the internet connection was up and running again, she was using her devices again.
Because of how chromebooks are setup, you are getting a very personalized device. When you sign-in to your chromebook, you see your bookmarks, apps, and search history. If you are a fan of Google Now, you will also see the same notifications on the chromebook.
So far, I have commented a lot about the positive side of chromebooks and the C720. Now it is time to talk about some things that I think can be improved. With most chromebooks being marketed as budget devices, the screen is a common issue that people have with them. The Acer C720 also has a screen that is not the best in the world. For the price, it is acceptable, but you are not getting a screen that is ideal for photo editing. There are some great photo editing apps for chromebooks, but because of the quality of the screen, your adjustments to the brightness and contrast of a picture will be off. How you adjust pictures on the C720 may look good, but when you look at the picture on another device, it may look slightly different. The lack of an ethernet port on most chromebooks is also an issue that I have. It is great that this is a wifi device. The problem is that many public wifi spots such as your local library or coffee shop may have poor quality wifi access points. In these cases, an ethernet connection will be much more reliable. Printing is one of the most inconvenient things to do on a chromebook. You cannot directly connect a printer to your chromebook. You would need a printer that is Google Cloud Print ready or setup a Windows/Mac/Linux computer with a printer and Google Cloud Print. Printing on a chromebook is a definite fail. Although printing from a chromebook is very inconvenient, I realized that I don’t print many documents. Customers that I work with want invoices emailed to them instead of mailed. When I was a graduate student, my professors wanted electronic copies of my work since it was easier for them. Overall, my printing needs are very low to begin with. That is about it for the cons that I have with chromebooks as a whole.
Remember that when you are purchasing the C720 or any chromebook, understand that the operating system is different. I notice that many people get this and think it is a cheap laptop with Windows and are disappointed. Before buying a chromebook, you can test out its functionality by downloading the Chrome web browser on your current computer. Checkout the Chrome app store and start testing out different applications. Anything you can do in the Chrome web browser, you can do in a Chromebook.
Even though chromebooks and the C720 has its cons, I am still love my chromebook. It is lighting fast. Because it is so fast, I rarely touch my traditional laptop or desktop. I can do about 90% of what I need to do on a chromebook. Because of my chromebook, I feel more productive whether I am at my desk or offsite. Another great thing about chromebooks are that all of my files are in the cloud. Since all of my documents are in the cloud, I’m don’t have to worry about forgetting a USB drive that may or may not have the documents I need. I thought that phablets will help me get more work done because of the larger screen. I now believe that chromebooks allow me to do more work than my Note 4.