I tried to live in an all Chrome world. I really did. It went well for two days. And then I wanted t do something that wasn’t possible on an all Chrome World. I wanted to download mp3s that I bought on Amazon to my computer to put into my iTunes Account, which would then match them and also upload them to my Google Music Account. None of that is possible on Chrome alone. I don’t do this often. Most of my time is still on just my Chrome browser. But occasionally, there will come a time when I will need to use something more than just my Google Browser.
Along with that, Black Friday came around and I saw a great deal on a PC on Amazon. I purchased and am now happily using my new Windows 8 machine and my MacBook Pro has been shipped and inspected by Gazelle (looking forward to my check so I can pay off the card I used to buy my new computer). Windows 8 isn’t so bad. I do like the tile interface. It doesn’t seem more than just a skin though. Once you click on a tile to open an application it looks like any Windows computer you’ve used in the last decade, for the most part. My new item was only $200 dollars more than the $249 Chromebook I wanted to get, which still seems t be sold out.
Was happy to have tried the little Chrome experiment even if it didn’t last too long. But at least I know now more than ever, that I don’t have to download that much software on my computer. Just the essential ones. The rest can be done on the browser.
While I have been contemplating about buying the new Samsung Chromebook for my mother, I have been contemplating, or re-contemplating I should say, my own personal computer uses and what do I need to satisfy my needs. My current MacBook Pro is still plowing along, though its AppleCare warranty is about to expire sometime in December and that makes me a little antsy. In general, gadgets tend to expire as soon as their warranties do. It’s quite a feat. The research and development teams of these electronics companies made a science out of this little trick.
That isn’t to say that I’ve experienced this phenomenon as much as I am worrying about it. Most of my Apple products have in fact exceeded their warranties long past their abilities to stay out of the shadow of obsolescence. For instance, as I already mentioned in a previous post, my mom’s current computer is a little frustrating to use because the outdated web browsers on it just aren’t compatible with most current websites and there is no way to upgrade the software on the old PowerBook. Apple is the master of speeding up the obsolescence cycle of their devices. It’s a little frustrating using it at times and I consider myself a bit of a computer literate. My mom must be completely frustrated with that old computer at times.
Of course my 2009 MacBook Pro isn’t quite there yet. I can upgrade my OS to Mountain Lion and have all the current bells and whistles that are being touted as Apple’s current standards. And even though it’s only $19.99 to upgrade I’m opting on looking towards my next computer. I know I definitely won’t be able to afford a new MacBook Pro and even the MacBook Air is out of my price range. I’m intrigued by the new Windows 8 interface, but I don’t want to deal with bloated antivirus programs that I have to keep running because that is the plight of a Windows user. This is leading me to think that maybe a Chromebook isn’t a bad option to consider after all.
I know I previously said that there are some applications that I currently use that would immediately eliminate Chromebook as a viable option but I’m re-assessing that notion and wondering if those applications are really that necessary. With this question bubbling in my mind I decided to undertake a little experiment without having to get rid of my safety-net that is my currently-still-under-warranty-MacBook-Pro. I discovered a blog entry that makes a viable argument to try it as your only computer, though it seems to be a little dated as he mentions which version of the Chromebook he’s using (CR-48, the first Chromebook I believe). He even mentions some Chrome extensions that would alleviate some of my concerns such as cloudHQ which would sync my Good Drive with Dropbox and make all my digital files accessible and easy to email without too much fuss. Or so that is the working theory.
Because of this I decided I’m going try to live through my Google Chrome Browser (which is pretty much the Chrome OS in a nutshell) without using other apps on my computer. Currently as I’m typing this, I’m playing my music on another tab through Google Music, cloudHQ is in the process of syncing Google Drive with Dropbox. So far so good. If this experiment is a success I’ll know that I won’t have to spend more than $249 for my next computer to do all the things I normally do and I won’t ever have to fear obsolescence as much I did with Apple products, for Google promises to keep all models of Chromebook updated and forward compatible. And with $249 being my only expense, whenever my hardware does crap out, it won’t be as hard to buy another one and I won’t have to fear for any of my stuff being lost since it’s all in the Cloud to begin with. We shall see how this experiment plays out.
When I read the blog reports of the new $249 Google Chromebook, I was immediately drawn in. At first I was thinking if it would be enough for my needs, since the majority of my computer use is web surfing, video watching and the occasional blog posts on WordPress and Tumblr (which are both done on their respective websites). I currently use a 2009 13-inch MacBook Pro which is about to run out of its warranty in December and I know for a fact there is no way I can afford a new Mac. Naturally $249 is an attractive price point.
But as I went over the different things I do with my computer, and what I may potentially do (I may want to record an audio podcast again), it became more obvious that the Chromebook wasn’t going to fill all my needs. And Google is very aware of this fact. In fact their PR spin on the Chromebook is that it’s a good second computer to have around the house (how many people can really afford or use a second computer in their household? Unless you consider a smartphone a sort of quasi second computer).
Now my mother on the other hand is making do with an old hand me down G4 Powerbook that has pretty much seen it’s time. As a machine it runs fine but unfortunately, Apple has no use for machines they deem unworthy and consequently the browsers that are able to run on it are no longer up to date and can barely handle most sites because of compatibility issues and expired plugins.
The Google Chromebook would solve this issue for my mother. She only uses the computer to check her Gmail accounts and really only when I’m around. The reason is, she isn’t the most computer literate person around and no matter how much I’ve tried to make checking her email easy for her she finds a way to undo all my customizations. Apple Mail somehow will lose her password that she never seems to remember. Alias icons mysteriously disappear from the Dock. Desktop icons somehow cease to function.
With the Chromebook, her email account will be her automatic sign-in (at least I think it will be. I’ll be setting it up for her to be that easy in any case). This should make checking her email as easy as just turning on the computer and opening the browser within seconds. As for software updates, since this really is just a browser OS Google will keep it updated frequently and this computer, in theory will never have to be replaced because of obsolescence. At least that’s the idea I’m getting of the Chromebook’s potential to be my mother’s new computer. Am I wrong in this estimation? I’ll appreciate any feedback.