For the last couple of month’s I’ve been mostly using my Samsung Google Chromebook for my internet/blogging/multimedia activities. It cost $250.
It’s certainly true that I would rather have a new MacBook Air, but as I have stated before I couldn’t see spending that kind of money right now. Too many other things I want and need to spend money on.
The more I use this little machine, the more comfortable I am with it. True, it is kind of cheaply built, but hell, look at the price. The only thing I’ve found it really doesn’t do that well is video display. I guess the graphics card, or whatever you call the part of this machine that processes video, isn’t super good. But it isn’t horrible either.
I guess there is on other issue that has come up, and that is video editing. While there is some reasonable cloud-based software out there for video editing, the challenge is in the uploading of your video footage into the cloud to work on it. HD video creates such big files. It just isn’t very feasible to upload hundreds of megs (or multiples gigs) unless you have a much faster upload speed than most people. There needs to be some app that will load locally on the Chromebook and process the video locally. Perhaps there already is and I just haven’t found it.
I’ve had good enough luck with this Chromebook that I’m tempted to apply the same “making the most out inexpensive equipment” ethos to the rest of my computing activities. I hardly every use a real “camcorder” for shooting video. Almost all mine is done on a simple point ‘n’ shoot digital camera. I use a GoPro HD Hero sometimes, but overall the point ‘n’ shoot seems to be my favored device.
In a world of skateboarders using expensive and cutting edge cameras, I like the idea of shooting good pics, video, and audio using inexpensive stuff, on an inexpensive computer. While I’ve been thinking very seriously about getting a nice digital SLR, maybe just getting a better point ‘n’ shoot — one that will shoot video in HD — might be a better choice for me.
OK, yes, this is kind of one of those rambling blog posts that no one will want to read. Whatever.
I am typing this entry from my new Google Chromebook, working offline (intentionally) to test its offline document editing capacity.
It seems to work pretty well. I bought this machine a couple of hours ago. Since it is all Flash memory driven, it boots up really fast. It is light, which is why I purchased it — so I’d have a lightweight machine to use for travel. Something that won’t weight down my backpack.
Getting on WiFi is easy enough. There is a slight learning curve, even for technology veterans, in navigating the “desktop”. Unlike most laptops, you don’t really “save stuff to the desktop” on this machine. It is designed to work with Google Drive. Thus far, when I have tested it’s online/offline syncing ability, it seems to work quite well.
The Google Docs app I’m using right now will save in an MS Word format, as well as various other common text formats.
I intend to us this machine while on trips, for uploading photos, doing blog posts, writing, and general web surfing/communication. The apps available for video/audio editing seem limited right now, but not completely absent. The one I was really hoping to use for audio has been discontinued by its maker, which sucks, but I will figure out a workaround. It is rare that I need on the road audio editing. I’ll figure it out.
The screen quality seems pretty good considering this machine only cost $250. It looks a lot better than the full-sized Dell monitor I use at work, and is comparable to a non-Retina Apple monitor. So that’s cool.
The keyboard is big enough to be comfortable for full-sized male hands, and the track pad is fairly good. Not as good as an Apple track pad, but much better than the one on my much-hated and seldom used Toshiba laptop. It is one of those new-fangled trackpads with no discrete click button. The bottom of the pad itself is the button. This entire machine feels superior in its user-interface, keyboard, monitor, and trackpad than any PC laptop I’ve ever used. And at about ¼ or less the price.
Having everything you do show up in a Chrome browser window does seem strange at first, I must admit. Using Google’s apps and Google Drive is also strange to me. As much as I appreciate Google’s various products, it does seem somehow dumb to be giving them even more of my life to store on their servers. But really, they’ve already got it all anyway. If I decide to write a novel that will make me lots of money, I’ll do it offline I recon – and not on Google. Don’t want them coming after my fortune, even though they say in Google Docs that they won’t.
The construction of the Chromebook seems adequate. I wouldn’t call it flimsy at all, but I also wouldn’t say its bulletproof. A nice foam sleeve for travel might be a good idea.
Obviously, the machine works well for web surfing, since it is all based on the Chrome browser.
Importing images to the Chromebook was a bit confusing at first. I took a pic using a standard Canon digital camera, and connected via USB cable. The Chromebook didn’t seem to recognize the connection. Then I remember that the Chromebook has an SD card slot. I popped the SD card in there, and a file manager came right up. You can then drag the images into your “downloads” folder, or any other folder you create.
I’m still trying to figure out how to insert images into this document. There is an option for it in the “insert” menu, but it is grayed out. Will figure that out later. I wonder if it has to do with being offline? Weird. I’ll also install the Flickr app and see how it works later at home, online.
OK, I’m at home, online, and I figured it out. Images can’t be inserted into the Google Doc unless you are line. Make sense. You have upload the image to Google Drive, where the Doc will always have access to it.
I tried a Flickr app, but it sucked. Better to just go to Flickr.com and use it normally via the brower. Now I’ll try inserted this old skate image I had on Flickr. Not bad.
Now, finally, to save this in some format that can be quickly and easily put into my concretelunch.info blog. Let’s see…
I don’t want to “Publish to web”, as this will simply make the Google Doc public on my account.
Simply copying directly from the Google Chrome window and pasting into WordPress worked, but the formatting was just a bit messed up. Really big gaps between paragraphs.
Saving this document in Word format, than doing “paste from Word” in WordPress didn’t work very well.
None of this is surprising. Stuff never pastes into WordPress correctly from other formats/apps.
I have just opted for the 1st choice – pasting directly into WordPress from Docs. I cleaned up the extra space between paragraphs. This is actually pretty common. I’ve not found what I consider a really good offline blog editor. I used to have one for the Mac, but rarely used it. It just didn’t work that well. The reality is that most of the time I am somewhere that WiFi is available, and I suspect that trend will increase in the future. Assuming that civilization doesn’t collapse.
Well, now to finish up this post I’m typing directly into WordPress, like normal. As I come up with new thoughts about the Chromebook I will collect them and post them. So far I think it is going to be a good option for light weight mobile blogging/social media/word processing.