Chromebook diaries: the verdict

About The Author

CNET Editor

Nic Healey can usually be found on a couch muttering about aspect ratios and 7.1 channel sound - which is helpful given that he's the home entertainment guy at CNET.

The Chromebook experiment of 2013 is now officially over, and I must say, it's not before time.

So what's the verdict? Well, I've had two days to think back over the experience and try to come up with a pithy and succinct way of summing it all up, and the word I keep coming back to is "adequate".

I may be damning it with faint praise, but apart from the frustrations on Thursday, everything "basically worked". It "wasn't bad". It was "fairly nice". The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy would probably describe it as "mostly harmless".

I could do pretty much everything I needed to do in my day-to-day working life; I just couldn't do it quite as well. There were few hurdles I couldn't surmount, but the workarounds often felt a little jury-rigged and unsatisfactory.

Apart from the still unexplained random rebooting incidents, the Acer C720 itself was a nice piece of hardware. For an AU$399 computer, it felt solidly made, and as I noted before, I really enjoyed writing on it.

Arguably, I'm not necessarily the target audience for the Chromebook — although Google is certainly touting the devices as being great for business. It's just that I'm not convinced the advantages of Chrome OS are significant enough to outweigh the compromises I had to make.

We currently have a Dell Inspiron 11 in the office. It has a Haswell Celeron processor — the same as the Chromebook. It's a bit bigger and heavier, but it also has a touchscreen, Windows 8, a 500GB drive and an Ethernet port. More importantly, it's only AU$100 more. I can say that, based on my experiences, it would be AU$100 extremely well spent.

I would never call my time with the Chromebook bad. And with a few more days under my belt, maybe all the rough edges could have been knocked off the experience. But after a full day of working on my Windows desktop once more, it's definitely a good feeling to be back home.

At the very least, I've finally got Spotify back.

Missed the original diary entries? You can catch up below:

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ChrisW7 posted a comment   

I had similar experiences with the Chromebook, and ended up buying a much larger 250GB PCI-e SSD and putting Linux onto it. While Chrome OS is OK in theory, I would have much rather that they used Android with a desktop based UI. It was a very poor experience. Past Facebook, and some websites, not having the ability to run Firefox, Ruby on Rails, Photoshop, or even Gimp, VPN, mapping network drives, having interfacing at all on my home network, all seemed to make it virtually unusable to me and it sat collecting dust until I read an article about the ability to install Linux onto it. Fedora with Gnome is a fantastic experience on this and even made the battery run a little bit longer and gave me power options not available on Chrome OS. I think Google should just trash Chrome and focus on porting Android to it. Why burn your OS candle at both ends. You cannot compete if you aren't competing. Android would have been a much better experience.


Humdinger posted a comment   


I'm looking at getting a new laptop which I intend to partition to accommodate Ubuntu


simonsyd posted a comment   

Just wish it had a proper word processor, and that Australian prices reflected US prices. Then it would be the best for education I think.


dem2005 posted a comment   

The author is to dumb to realize that Spotify can be used as a website, although people keep pointing it out in the comments. That's pathetic.


ShahenjebA posted a comment   

What about the Spotify web app?


MattW4 posted a comment   

I'm pretty sure the chrome store has a spotify app... Just in case you need to go back to the chromebook!


palmtree posted a comment   

they're a piece of ****


Will1505 posted a comment   

Even though I like the idea of it, I don't think I would ever change. In an educational setting, I think the chomebook would be great.

On another note, I managed to pick up an acer 14inch with a 500gb hard drive, 4gb ram, touch screen for $299. It has windows 8 in it. Its let down is the older pentium in it however I get a good 4 hours out of its tiny battery.


Arthur Dent posted a comment   

I think Chrome OS needs another couple of years before it is ready to compete with windows and apple based systems. It's getting pretty close, but it's not quite there yet.

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