Luddite Declares Chromebook Wonderful!

chromebook hp 14

Post written by Monica Gaylor.

Apple Girl Goes Chrome

Don’t get me wrong.  Apple has wonderful products.  I have always liked them – I just like to be open to other options… especially if they embrace user-ism and the “sharing economy” more than owner-ism / consumerism.

The Sad Truth about My Technology History

(Disclaimer: Techies Beware – Scary, Scary Stuff Here…)

I have known that most of my technology was obsolete for a long while now, but I have habits, routines, and comfort zones.  I don’t like change.  Once I finally figure out how to work something, I like to stay with it.  If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it – that’s my motto.  And, for those of us technically challenged people, it takes so long to figure out how to work something that starting over isn’t worth the effort.

My Macbook is 8+ years old and it has never been updated, other than the automatic updates which, sadly, stopped some time ago for many of the programs / softwares.  My iPad and Virgin Mobile HTC phone are equally outdated.

I really noticed the age of my tech tools a few weeks before purchasing my Chromebook when I was trying to do some edit updates to my Spock post.  The iPad was maybe not compatible with the WordPress platform?  It would let me edit, but the changes would not appear on the actual post.  I never did download the WordPress app because it did not receive good reviews.  I had a similarly bad experience with my Macbook, troubles with pictures, etc. It could be that my Safari browser is much out of date?  I admittedly don’t know what the problems were, but I strongly suspect “old age.”

For 3 years I had hoped that I could replace my Macbook with the iPad, but this dream did not come to fruition for several reasons, including screen size.  Why is it that some sites will not let you blow up the screen?  My phone was not compatible with either devise and my iPad was only a little compatible with my computer – both Apple products?  I realize that a lot of this could be user related, but why aren’t things easier.

I have many, many pictures, word documents, and powerpoints across many devices (think several computers and tablets) – work and personal.  I also have over 7,000 songs in my itunes library (over 31 GB).  Why?  And trust me, none of it is organized.  At first I did not know how to save things to a specific place, so where things got saved I don’t know.  And then I just started saving everything to my desktop.  I will just let your imagination run with that…

Oddly, I went to digital photography very early in the game, but those early pictures are still sitting in a very old Macbook or iMac (?) and have not been backed up or moved to the less old Macbook.  I attribute this behavior to my own personal operating system.  You take pictures, you get them developed, and then you put them in a drawer and forget about them.  A computer is no different than a drawer for some of us.

A physical drawer gets cleaned out from time to time for various reasons, but a computer (at least in my case) doesn’t.  None of the stuff in it takes up any space in reality.  Hopefully, the reader is beginning to see my problem(s).  Please don’t call anyone.

I have a love / hate relationship with technology.  Let’s face it, it’s really cool and it can do a lot of really cool stuff – if… if you can figure out how to do the really cool stuff.  I am not the techiest of people and I usually jump into the boat in the 11th hour.

Technology Updating is a Chore for Some of Us

So, sadly, the time had finally come for both an update to the current technology and a great purging of the old technologies.  The 2015-ish goal is to become as lean and mean as possible.  Yes, I realize that I am aiming very high – at least technology wise.  I probably should make it a 15-16 goal?

I have had a dream for a long time that technology would be the panacea to my organizational issues.  It has yet to come to fruition.  I believe that a lot of that is my own fault, as I am clearly not an optimal user of technology or very organized.  But, for a right brain (read: artist) person like myself technology has to actually help me.  It cannot expect me to do it all – otherwise, it is just too much trouble.  Hence, the Chromebook experiment (combined with a great deal of purging).

Before even thinking about the Chromebook option, I researched different options in both the laptop and tablet fields.  I looked seriously at the Amazon platform with a Fire tablet combined with the Prime goodies.  I really liked the idea of the free books, movies, and music aspect combined with 100 GB of photo space, but it didn’t tackle the the word and powerpoint file problem.  And I had already tried to do everything with my iPad and it just wasn’t possible – at least with my knowledge of things.  Admittedly, part of the problem might have been my reluctance to download apps.  I just wanted to go to a website and do my business and leave – why do you need an app for every different thing?

In our school students use Chromebook and its platform, so why I didn’t consider it first is beyond me, but I stumbled across an article or something while researching options and it didn’t take too long for me to realize that that was the way to go.  At least it was cheap enough to give it a try for a few years.  And since I use my tablet for maybe 75% of my computing stuff, why do I need to spend a huge amount of money for the other 25%?

The Chromebook sales hype (propaganda):

And why it is good for me (in this color):

  1. Starts fast.  Stays fast.  Browse faster.  Not really relevant.  I am sure all computers claim to be fast (but in the $300 price range?)
  2. It has an online web based operating system.  Chromebook updates automatically for free, so it doesn’t slow down over time.  (No advanced techie worries, like software, etc.)  This one counts for a lot in my non-techie world.  I rarely, if ever, downloaded any software and have always had to take it to someone for such things.  Big, big plus.
  3. Simple and secure internet browsing experience with built-in protection against viruses, malware, etc.  Also a big plus.  With my Macbooks, I never did get around to installing any such things.
  4. Your files are safe in the cloud and can be accessed from any computer, tablet, phone, etc, anywhere.  They are backed up automatically for you.  No hard drive crashes, dropped or lost computers to worry about, etc.  What can I say – also awesome because I am never going to get around to backing anything up.
  5. My Chromebook (and all new Chromebooks – I think) came with 100GB of free storage for 2 years, plus another 15GB with my gmail account.  It is all tabulated together automatically.  It is very magical and cool!!  This was the clincher in the whole “Why buy a Chromebook over some other type of computer / tablet?” argument for me.  I want to streamline and secure digital files and photos somewhere.  Right now they are all over the place and not secure or backed up.  After 2 years, if I am over 15GB, I can either buy another Chromebook or purchase 100GB of storage for a monthly fee of.. wait for it… 1.99.  What?  Seems pretty darn reasonable!

These were enough of a sales point for me, but there were a few other things to sweeten the pot:  You can use Microsoft Office if you really want to, run almost any Android app, work offline, and sync everything with your phone and iPad (I think).  See this article.

But, the thing that cinched the deal for me was this:  There are several online image editors available for use and with positive reviews.  Someone wrote, “Pixlr Editor feels just like using Gimp or Photoshop.”  I have been wanting to learn how to use programs like this, but was daunted at buying an expensive program and then not being able to download or work it, etc.  Risk free, problem solved.

I put my eggs in the Google basket because I think it is the future of computing.  I want a more user-istic / sharing type society and Chromebook seems to be there.  Now, where is the public transportation?

So, lets start the review.

One – two weeks in:

I usually have buyers remorse whenever I make a big purchase – for like cars, appliances, technology, etc.  I have none so far.

My new HP 14 Chromebook cost $299.  It was the 2nd most expensive one, but it had the biggest screen and that was my main concern.  They offered me an extended warranty for 3 years for around $150.  I declined based on the price of replacement.

Lets do the comparison math.  My 8 year old Macbook cost $1,200 plus the 3 year warranty was extra.  And the thing was so expensive that of course one would get the warranty.

Price per year for Macbook  $1,200+ / 8yrs = $150+ per year – not including the warranty, hard drive based storage (mine was never backed up anywhere else), and software expenses.

Price per year for Chromebook with 2 free years of 100GB of cloud storage included.  $300 / 2yrs = $150 per year (warranty declined), off-site secure and backed up storage included and no software needed.

At 2 years of ownership the Chromebook is still a bit cheaper as I had to buy a warranty and probably other incidentals for my Macbooks.  At 3 years it’s a lot cheaper than the Apple alternative, even with the $24 dollars a year price for cloud storage.

I have to admit I was surprised when I did the math after buying the Chromebook.  For some reason, I thought that “having” to buy a new Chromebook every 2 years would be more costly than the Apple alternative.  I also have to factor in the fact that most people probably don’t wait as long as I do to upgrade their technology (and I probably shouldn’t either).  I feel I am coming out way ahead with the Chromebook.

As for technical support:  Either way I have real world back-up at school / work for either system.  I have had to take in my work Macbook many times (it is the same age as my personal Macbook) over the years for upgrades, etc.  And they install software used for school purposes for free, but it is never the latest and greatest.  However, it is free and they can help you, but you do have to surrender your computer for several days.  At least with the Chromebook platform I will be free of this whole updating scenario.  Otherwise, it is probably equal.

For my personal Macbook, I had from time to time used the Genius Bar and it was always wonderful.  Chromebook has a 24 hour number you can call that I have not yet had to utilize.  I have been able to figure out everything on my own (5 months in).

Five Months In:

I still have to say that I have no regrets!  I think I bought at just the right time.  My Macbook stopped working the Netflix system and then it stopped working the CBS system.  I was going to keep it as my glorified TV watching system, but that did not work out.  I had to buy a new cord to hook the Chromebook up to my TV, but it only required one.  My old Mac required two and a dongle.

I really use my computer very little in comparison to my tablet, but there are just some things that are so much easier to do on a traditional computer.  Like writing.  And work related things, etc.  I think the price point of the Chromebook for its limited use role in my life is just right.  It cost less than my old Ipad, but it gets used less and it is still worry-free.

The online word processing system is so very similar to Word that there was no learning curve.  It doesn’t have quite the convenience of all of the Word attributes.  There is no thesaurus substitute-in feature, but you can buy it for a very nominal price.  There is a way to go online and use a thesaurus feature which is not quite as easy but do-able.  And, it does not auto-correct, but it underlines.  For me, it is fine.  I word process on a simple level.  It saves everything immediately – seriously, I mean immediately.  I can’t imagine one would ever lose anything.  I know you can work offline and on your Chromebook, but I have not tried as of yet.  I really like the online convenience – it is just so easy!  And it is there for me to access from home, work, tablet, and phone.

I haven’t transferred all of my files into the Chrome space yet, but what I did transfer was easy and transferred with no issues.  It saved as Word files, but then I changed / saved them as Chrome files.  And I tried it from both my Macbook and my Ipad – it was really easy either way.  Much easier I have to say than the iCloud experience that I gave up on many years ago.  I have files everywhere, so this will be helpful when I get up the courage to do it all.  I have not tried to transfer a Powerpoint yet.

I bought a new phone (another HTC) within a few weeks of the new computer and many things are synced with-in the whole Chrome platform.  (Sidetrack note: Email – grrrr.  I would really like to not get email on my phone.  I was initially excited to get email on my new phone – like everyone else, but it turns out that I actually don’t like being disturbed by my email – ever!)  But on a happy note, somehow, and I don’t know how I did this (it is magic!) – whenever I take a picture on my new phone it is automatically saved on Google photo.  Wow!  That is sooo cool.  I probably sound like I just discovered fire after the rest of the world has gas stoves, but my technology was very old…

I have recently joined the image / photoshop editor Pixlr.  It is awesome and easy, unlike the ancient one (Photoshop) on my work Macbook, which I was unable to figure out.  I did not have to purchase expensive software or download anything – so wonderful.

What is really great is that my old technology is compatible with the Chrome technology.  Unlike when I bought a new Ipad and it was not compatible with my Macbook – at least not on my level.  I can use my Chromebook at home to make a work document or slideshow and then go to school and open it in the Chrome browser on my ancient Macbook and go to work.  No more thumb-drives to transport back and forth.

In Conclusion

I am sure that if one keeps current with their (Apple or other) technology, either by new purchases or updating, that they probably enjoy the same interconnectedness between devices that I am just now discovering.  However, for me, the Chrome experience wins hands down for two important reasons: price, which includes hardware and online storage, and the “no worries” experience.

I suspect that we are getting to a point in time that all devices are probably just as equally wonderful as any other devices, some people still cling to the need for a “name” brand (“hem” especially minimalists…?) and / or have been cult-ified into a certain brand loyalty.  Don’t get upset, I don’t care one way or the other.  But, for me, I don’t wish to spend an arm and a leg on an Apple product that will probably be obsolete in 2-3 years.  I am guessing that this may be the last traditional laptop that I buy, so why spend a lot of my hard earned money when I can get the same thing for much less.  Thank you Chromebook visionaries.

(Chromebook has not paid or bribed me in any way for this review.)

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2 thoughts on “Luddite Declares Chromebook Wonderful!

  1. Mike Farley January 12, 2016 / 12:12 pm

    Absolutely! I’m delighted to read this, as it bears out so clearly my own experience – only in my case it was with Windows machines rather than Macs. It would take hard-to-imagine circumstances to get me back to using a conventional PC now. Incidentally, I read somewhere that Google’s design life for Chromebook hardware is 5 years – it’s only that after two years that you have to pay $1.99 a month to retain your 100GB. But it’s amazing how far even a few GB of storage will stretch when it’s not filled up with operating system, program files and so forth!

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