The Samsung Chromebook I ordered has arrived in the mail. It was almost perfect timing because I was sitting on the couch, crunching through a document on my 8 pound desktop-replacement laptop, when the tiny 2.6 pound kitten-computer arrived. The difference in size and weight is stark and I love it.
One item that will be challenging on this is the hard drive size–only 16 GB.1 One of the purposes of this computer is backing up/storing photos while on the road. My camera has two 8 GB compact flash cards permanently with it. If you do the math, that’s way more than this hard drive can handle. The Samsung has a slot for an SD card, and I’m sure I’ll be using that, but I’ll be interested to see how quickly I use that 9 GB of free space as I load up apps or keep documents offline2.
Another item which I’ll be delighted to torture test is the off-line capability of this computer. So far I’ve only had to actually do one thing to ensure my offline utility; that was to install the Offline Gmail app. The Google Drive (old Google Docs) works natively as you’re moving between wifi-covered and uncovered areas.3
Test #2 was to whip the computer out in my car in a parking lot as I waited for a friend. Could it fit and be used in a car on a bright sunny day? The answer is yes–so far. I was fortunate in the sun angle, it wasn’t shining directly on the computer, but I think if it were, I’d still be able to type, at least. There probably would not be enough contrast for web browsing, though. This test lets me know that yes, I’ll be able to use this thing on a plane, something my 17” desktop replacement laptop was very very bad at.4
The Chromebook starts up and shuts down as quickly as advertised. After I picked up the aforementioned friend at the parking lot, I asked if she wanted to see my new toy? I explained that it’s really small and fast. I pulled it out of my bag, flipped it open and [poof], there was this document right away.
Jessica said, “Wow. That is fast.”
I’ve also had the opportunity now to use it in a bed-time setting. It’s comfy, small, and less rocket-hot on the family jewels than other laptops. Part of that is because of the solid state hard drive, the other part is because it’s just not that high-powered a device and produces less heat. It also is light enough to provide for endless entertainment opportunities for intrepid explorers.
A usability issue I noted as I was writing this post was the way that Google Drive deals with spell check corrections. I have no idea if this is something that is Chromebook-specific or is just something that happens with Google docs, but if you “right click” on a misspelled word to fix it, the pop up menu makes you traverse the mouse a looooong way to get to the selection. See the image below. The selection that is most likely should pop up right next to your cursor.
All in all, I find the Chromebook very functional so far. I’m still getting used to the keyboard which is a good size and I’m merely having issues with the keys not being in precisely the locations I’m used to. I’m also still finding the keyboard shortcuts (Hint: hit ctrl-alt-? for a screen display of the shortcuts) but that’s normal with new software, and I’ve never used Chrome before.
- In fact, it’s actually only 9 GB after all of the other OS software is loaded. [↩]
- I’m not yet sure how the Chrome OS handles that. Is there a permanent collection of synced documents sitting on my hard drive? Not that the typical number of spreadsheets or reports will fill up 9 GB. [↩]
- Note: spell check doesn’t work offline. It turned back on as soon as I logged back into my wifi. [↩]
- These tests are not in any particular order; they happened as life happened. [↩]