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Hello!!!   Time for another quick update.   Recently Asus has announced their Chromebox and I had to order one.  I'll be doing an un-boxing of it as soon as it comes in, as well as a brief tear-down of it.   The Haswell-based Chromebox instantly shot to the top of Amazon's best sellers list the day it was available for ordering.   It is available from Amazon, B&H Photo, and Newegg starting at $179. The specs of the actual machine are almost identical to the Chromebook line:
  • Haswell Based Celeron Processor (1.4GHZ)
  • 2 gigabytes of DDR3 memory
  • 16 gigabytes of Flash storage
  • SD Card Slot
  • Wifi
  • USB 3
  Hopefully this comes in soon and I can get a video up quickly!  This is going to be a great machine I think for browsing the web that weighs nothing, and will use 10% of the power of a desktop, and do 85% of the desktop related chores..  Bills, social media, and browsing the web.  I am also excited to see if this handles dual screens but will report back with performance and my experiences with the new Asus Chromebox.  They will be coming out with a Haswell i3 model as well in April of this year I believe and that should give a bit of computing boost to this tiny pc, but coming in at a larger price point somewhere above $289.

Day to day Chromebook usage

So I'e been working on some new posts and reviews with both the HP Chromebook 11, and the Acer C720 chromebook as well.   The HP is powered by a samsung processor similar to the one found in the Galaxy S4, but actually holds its own very very well.  I carry that everyday with me to work and always have it on me.   The Acer is actually a bit more powerful, but I find myself preferring the HP for portability. I did a quick unboxing of the HP Chromebook that can be seen here:  

The past few weeks..

Sorry for the lack of updates the past few weeks.   I just moved to a new apartment and have been trying to get my storage unpacked and all my stuff setup.  Internet wasn't setup for a couple weeks.. its been rough.   I have content ready to go up, and now that I'm (mostly) settled and have access to my editing computer and the internet, content will be going up weekly!

Google announces new Chromebooks!

This will just be a pretty quick update.  Lots of things are coming shortly.  This weekend I have a few updates I would like to push out and videos hopefully to upload. Google announced Two new Chromebooks,  The Chromebook Pixel, and The HP Pavilion 14.   PixelThe Pixel, which starts out at $1299 for the Wifi model with 32 gigabytes of flash storage($1499 for the LTE model with 64 GB of flash storage) is the most powerful Chromebook released to date.    It has a new i5 processor and 4gb of DDR3 memory powering it.  It also has the new HD4000 graphics that comes with the 3rd Gen Intel Core I processors.   This is a HUGE upgrade from any of the other models currently available.   The HD4000 when put in a regular PC is actually capable of playing some games released today.   Intel hasn't been able to do tout that since about 1995.    Does this make the laptop worth 1299? I have my doubts, but until I get my hands on one, I'll refrain from saying too much.    Here are a few of the highlights from the new Chromebook Pixel:
  • 12.85" display(With retina equivalent resolution)
  • Gorilla Glass touchscreen(This is interesting, and blurs the line between Android and Chrome)
  • Intel Core I5 dual core(low voltage)
  • Up to 5 hours battery life ( I was hoping this would be a little better)
  • Machine from aluminum ( Should feel pretty good in the hand)
  • Backlit Keyboard( These are awesome to have)
  The HP Pavilion Chromebook 14 is the largest currently offered chromebook at 14 inches. PavilionIt is $325 and sports an intel Celeron Processor, 2 gigabytes of DDR3 ram(upgradable to 4gb) and 16gb of flash storage.    The HP is available only from HP's website at this time.   The battery life is supposed to be an mere 4.25 hours, but I'm hoping that is underrated and would like to see it get closer to 5 hours given the specs of the machine.    I have a feeling this will begin the full size Chromebook market for those users who like the feel and look of a normal size laptop, keyboard, and screen space.  Here are a few bullet points for the Pavilion Chromebook:
  • Intel Celeron @ 1.1 Ghz
  • 2 gigabytes of DDR3 memory ( upgradable to 4gb)
  • 16 gigabytes of flash storage onboard
  • 3 USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI port
  • 4.25 hours battery life (I wish this was higher)
    Thats all for now!  I look forward to putting out an update this weekend!

Week 4 Thoughts

Over the past 4 weeks I have been using nothing but my Chromebook(s) as my main computer and have tried to share my experiences as far as using it and how it performed for me.   I started out with a Google CR-48 from a few years ago, and finished off the last week using an Acer C7 Chromebook I picked up used online. I've since upgraded the memory on the C7 to 4 gigabytes(up from the 2 it came with) and am going to upgrade to a SSD in it in the coming weeks.  I'm going to put up a formal review of the Acer by weeks end and more thoughts on it as well.   When I started Week 1 with the CR-48 I enjoyed it, but there was always a little bit of a delay I felt, and it just was not as snappy as I would have liked when I tried to watch web video occasionally.   This has been a non-issue with the Acer and that was even before I upgraded to 4 gigs of memory!!  I had a 2 gigabyte stick laying around, so I had to do the upgrade.  The SSD was also not being used, so that is the only reason I want to upgrade that. It took about 4 minutes to sync all my data on the new chromebook and have all of my favorites and details.  It did take about 10 minutes to go through the updates when I had it check for them, but that is not an issue at all for a new machine.  The keyboard took a little bit to get used to, and dealing with a slightly lower battery life was a bit to get used to as well.   The Acer battery is said to offer around 4 hours and I was able to squeeze out 5 hours when I was doing very basic work and not doing too much.  I expect this number to increase slightly with more software updates, and when the SSD goes in. This week overall went pretty well.  I think the only time I had to fall back to my Mac was when the power went out from a storm we had and that was just to power it up and make sure all data was intact.  Once that was done, I went right back to plugging away on the Chromebook.   I ended up using Google Talk and the video chat feature on it to talk with my brother for a while just to test how the audio and video was.  It was a lot smoother than expected, and the little machine handled it nicely.   I still wish there Skype would release a Chromebook compatible app.   The only other thing i want to try is to use the video chat through facebook, which uses Skype's back-end IIRC. Wrapup:   These little machines are amazing,  Google Docs has come so far, Google Drive has expanded(finally) and its actually usable.  Dropbox works seamlessly so I can work with my friends on projects together and even printing(albeit, through a windows/mac as a proxy) was super easy to setup and once setup very reliable;  I used it to actually print out some docs out at my home from work so I wouldn't forget when I got back home.  I really like the feel of the keyboards and considering the price, I think its a no-brainer.    If you're a full time video editor, or photo editor, these are not going to be your workstation machines... but if you just are browsing the web, watching video and want something that's small, relatively cheap(good for traveling) these might be worth considering. I'm definitely going to be doing some more tests, and testing out a few third party apps(eww) for Skype and mess around a bit more with google drive and syncing some more of my photo collection to it in the next week or two.   There are a few places to get these Chromebooks online, TigerDirect seems to have them at the suggested price.   Amazon has third party sellers jacking up prices, so I pulled my amazon links for now.   You can get to the TigerDirect page here.(Affiliate Link) I've been super busy at work the past week or so,  I'm hoping to get another post up by the end of the week of an unboxing of the Chromebook and quick look at the hardware if I can get it to work the way I want.

Week 3 Thoughts

First things first!  I'll have an Acer C7 Chromebook by next week!   I'm going to be doing an unboxing and compare that with my CR-48, as well as an EEE Netbook either next week or the following week as well. This week I wanted to find some little gripes I have with the Chrome OS and highlight them not to discourage you from getting one, but to just let you know what you may run into and see if there is a workaround for it. One thing I noticed and have mentioned before is youtube not really playing smooth as I would like on HD, but if I step it down to 480, it is ok.  I think this will be remedied on the new Chromebooks, but I'll definitely edit this once I get the Acer C7 in. One of the other issues I've run into was printing.   I had a coupon emailed to me for a free appetizer at Applebees and needed to print it out real quick.  Unfortunately that took a few more steps than I would have liked, and needed to actually use one of my other computers in the house as a proxy almost.   Now, thats not to say its impossible to print from a Chromebook easily.. Once it is setup, you can actually print to your home printer while you're at work!... but that isn't always ideal.   The other option is to get a "Cloud Print Ready", which I think most printers will come setup for that one day, but that time hasn't come yet.  I have a monochrome Brother network printer that works just fine for printing out PDFS and any documentation that i normally print out at home.   You go through Chrome to the Advanced Settings from your Windows or Mac and you can add local printers(or ones on the local network at home or work) and then when you print from your Chromebook, you pick the printer that is closest to you ( or you can save a pdf or doc to your Google drive for later).  The only downside to this is that if you're pc at home is off, you cannot print to your non-cloud-ready printer. I have come to hate the trackpad that the smaller computers have.   Coming from my Macbook Pro's large really big, and very smooth trackpad to the smaller, glitchier one on the CR-48, I always carry my Logitech M305 around with me.   This isn't really different, as I've always tried to carry it, but now I make sure I don't leave home or the office without the mouse, as it makes using the CR-48 so much better. All in all, the only time I really miss my bigger machines is when I want to stream HD video, or edit video/photos.   These Chromebooks weren't meant to edit photos or video, and I think the issue with the streaming content is due to the hardware in the CR-48. I've got to run for now, but next week I should be posting from my Acer C7, and I'm looking forward to setting it up! ! (Read - Turn on, log in, and have everything setup automatically)

Week 2 Thoughts

Its been two weeks since I've made the switch to Chrome OS and honestly I've been having a blast with it.   The main thing I really like is the instant on and how everything just seems to work as far as saving passwords, plugins and the OS are auto-updated as well!   Battery life has been steady at 6 hours of use give or take a few minutes pretty much too.   The CR-48 has been chugging along, and although I've noticed that I don't watch Youtube as much with it, because I refuse to watch anything but the HD content, and it stutters on the CR-48.   This hasn't really impacted my productivity in any way, and if anything it seems to make me a little more productive(read: I can browse way more forums and look for more hardware to test against.    I'm going to be working on an Asus netbook and comparing the experience.   its been a while since I've used a netbook(I got the original Asus EEE 7" netbooks).  I think the chromebook will be much more usable even though the netbook runs windows.   The only thing I've really had to use my normal pc for this week was to load up my new Ipod Nano with music for the gym, and to edit photos from a gig last weekend.   I look forward to updating week 3 with thoughts and some comparisons of the netbook vs the Chromebook I've got.   (Both are similar in specs and age).  Cheers! Until next week for the week 3 update!  

Week 1 Thoughts

Battery on my Chromebook

Battery on my Google Chromebook CR-48

So I've been using my CR-48 for about a week now, and I figured I would give my thoughts so far on using my Chromebook as my main computer for general web and everyday use.    I would like to say that the CR-48 is not as powerful as the Acer C7 or either of the Samsung Series Chromebooks currently available, and so my current experiences may be not as good.   I'm working to get a newer Chromebook and look forward to doing side-by-side comparisons of them for you. First, I love being able to just open my Chromebook, and it immediately turns on, booting in about 12 seconds to the login screen.   I'll be doing a short video soon showing the Chromebook and the user experience on it next week and comparing it to a few popular netbooks and the usability of those.    I've gotten really good battery life out of this machine, its almost gotten better the more I use it.  i use it usually with the brightness one notch below half unless I'm outside with it.   I've gotten 6 hours out of it one day and 7 the next(I wasn't on youtube too much for these days).   First thing that I was happy to see was a terminal you could get to to SSH into a machine if needed. For advanced users, you can SSH from within Chrome OS This is a huge deal to me because sometimes I have to login to servers, nothing too bad, but its just another big plus to this little system. One of the other nice features is to take screenshots.  To do this, you can simply press CTRL + F5 equivalent(Switch Window Key).   That is how I've taken the few screenshots I've shared.  If you hold down CTRL + SHIFT + F5 a crosshair comes up and you can do a custom size screenshot.  This saves into your downloads folder, and all it takes is a quick drag to copy it to your Google drive, and it is instantly accessible on any computer in seconds. One small complaint is that some pages do take a few seconds to load and easily scroll through.   It doesn't bother me usually but every once in a while, sites like Engadget or Wired or Ebay will take a few seconds to fully load and become usable.    I'm thinking this will be fixed in the new versions of the chromebook and that it is the processor choking. Thats all for this update.  I'm looking at updating over the weekend, and then I'll do another update next week with my thoughts on week 2 of using a Chromebook.   If you have any questions definitely leave a comment or contact me here.        

Switching to the Chromebook for 1 month

Over the weekend I started moving over to using my CR-48 full time for my browsing and general computing as much as I can.   I moved a bunch of PDF files and documents into my Google Drive.   Currently I have the standard 5GB of data on my account, and I think it will work just fine for me for now. The CR-48 boots for me in just about 10 seconds from being off.   I updated it to the latest version of Chrome OS(Version23.0.1271.99) and was off and running.   It took about 20 minutes in order to download the latest updates and sync everything up.  The CR-48 is a little behind the curve in terms of tech specs, but it holds its own for casual use.  The CR-48 is powered by an Intel Atom N455 single core processor @ 1.66GHz and 2GB of ddr3 memory.   It comes equipped with a 16GB SSD to house any local storage needs and the OS, which is plenty for me so far, especially since there is an SD card-slot I can insert to double the available storage.   The battery life for general browsing is about 4.5-6 hours when not streaming video from YouTube.  When I was watching videos, the battery life dropped to 4 hours, still very impressive from this little machine. Performance on the CR-48 is as good as you can expect for the specs.   It is a little sluggish on some more intense page loads, and sometimes scrolling is choppy.   I didn't mind waiting an extra second or so on the load time for pages though.  It started noticeably slowing down once I had 14 tabs open, which is fine because I really did not need that many open, I was just trying to push and see what the little machine's limits were.  YouTube video was good at 360, once it built a buffer it was fine in the window as well as full-screen.   480 playback was smooth for the most part but I did notice it would hiccup sometimes and freeze for a section, but catch right up.   I blame this on the hardware in this machine.  I'm working to get a few other Chromebooks to test and do side by side comparisons. Syncing up my bookmarks, history and all the extensions was seamless to me and it is really nice to be able to take my work around with me, and it syncs up with the chrome browser on my phone making it very easy to pull up browsing history and bookmarks on the run! Overall I'm really liking the user experience and its very easy to get used to, since I normally use Chrome as one of my main browsers daily at work and on my other PCS at home.   I'll post an update on Thursday probably once it is all setup.   I'll be going through some shortcuts and small tricks I've been picking up since using it full time in my next update as well. I'm still trying to get my hands on a current-gen Chromebook and can start testing that out.   If you have any questions, please shoot me an email through the contact form and I'll get back to you quickly! Happy New Year!  See you in 2013!

Should I really get a Chromebook?

This is the question I've been asking myself since Google announced the CR-48 was being sent out in December 2010.  I signed up immediately for my own ChromeBook, convinced 4 of my friends to do so as well(we're all still assuming they got lost in the mail).  None of us received one, but that didn't slow my interest in Chrome OS.   I have been working with Chrome OS since they came out with the ability to do so within Parallels 5.  I really liked how I could make changes between browsers and it would sync, and rarely used it for more than general surfing and school work. Fast forward to two years, we now can actually buy a few ChromeBook(Samsung, Acer) models as still run it in parallels(and some people have ported it to Virtualbox).  Now I've been out of school a few years and been working in the IT field for the past 5 years, so I still need to the standard Windows and Unix machines at work, but when at home, I'd like to explore my options, especially for traveling. I do shoot a lot of photos and videos, but I prefer to edit and upload it when I'm home. The purpose of this blog is to explore the good and bad of both the ChromeOS, as well as the hardware it has been shipped on(I wound up buying a CR-48 for traveling) and the newer Acer C7 Chromebook, or the Samsung Chromebook! Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to contact me with any questions about ChromeOS or comparisons you would like to see here!  I'll be updating this pretty regularly and look forward to getting this project running!