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Thread: My Chromebook Experience

  1. #1
    Y39 + NinjaDuck = Doom!
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    My Chromebook Experience

    The following is my experience with my new Toshiba 2 Chromebook (4GB RAM model). When I was evaluating the pros/cons of going with a Chromebook, I lacked user experiences that mimicked my own potential use-model. So, here, I will share with you all what I have found and gone through.

    First, the Machine. The keyboard is nice. I like, and even prefer, chick-let keys. My favorite external keyboard is the Logitech 750, and the keys on it are similar to what the Toshiba Chromebook uses. Not all Chromebooks have the same quality keyboard, of course. Some are much cheaper, or crowded, or ... well, whatever. This keyboard, how, ever is nice for me to use. The Display is IPS, 1080p, and it's freaking awesome. I've had a few laptops in my house over the past 5 years, and only one machine had a display this nice on it: an old Dell laptop with crappy resolution but a beautiful, glossy screen that rendered colors in a very vivid, high-contrast manner.

    The battery life is long. I get 6-8 hours out of a single charge, depending on what I'm doing. Using the Chromebook for anything heavy-lifting style, such as movie playback, most of the effort is either on the network (media server) or in the streaming codec (VLC), so there really isn't much for the local machine to render. Thus, even working itself up to 100% computation power, I still don't have a lot of oomph, but I also don't need it.

    The WiFi hardware in this device is top-notch. Honestly, this isn't surprising, given that local storage is minimal. However, many mobile devices are inherently dependent on WiFi, as well, but have crappy radios or poor drivers. No such problem here!

    Local storage is minimal. The hard drive (SSD) only stores ~16GB, which really turns into ~12.5GB with the ChromeOS installed. There are two USB ports (2.0 and 3.0, each), as well as a full-sized SD card slot (Supports SDHC and SDXC), but, despite using all those extensions, I haven't really needed any additional space. It just keeps working out that it's not necessary.

    Usage model:
    My wife switched to a tablet when our first kid was born. She quickly realized that using a laptop wasn't feasible while holding/nursing an infant, so we opted to get her a one-handed device. Me, on the other hand, I type a lot. While we did get me a Nexus 7, I use it mostly for books and a few games (and not all games - my phone plays many much nicer than the tablet!!). As such, there's a call for me to have a device like the Chromebook, as long as I can get it to do all of the things that I use my older, much more powerful laptop, for.

    Enter Crouton.
    For the ignorant amongst you, Crouton is a handy script that installs Linux (Ubuntu) onto a Chromebook from a developer terminal window. To get the developer terminal, you have to reset your machine and reboot into a mode that allows a terminal window to be accessed. This was the first of multiple machine wipes, for me, and every subsequent log-in restored all of my settings! How cool is that? Once a developer terminal is acquired, running Crouton downloads and installs Ubuntu Linux into a CHROOT environment - essentially, inside a shell on the ChromeOS. Additionally, the Linux machine that starts isn't emulated or run under a virtualization scheme - it's actually run natively inside ChromeOS, which is pretty awesome (and minimizes the performance hit, too!). I opted for the XFCE desktop environment, for speed purposes, and the process couldn't have been smoother. You can seamlessly switch back and forth between the active Chrome OS and the active Linux installation. Very slick and useful

    Next up, I got Steam installed on the linux side, as well as set up in-home streaming. Yes, now I can play all of my big gaming-rig Steam Games from my Chromebook, and that's just as awesome as it sounds...

    Except I can't get the damn controller to work.

    Anyway.

    I love this machine, and I look forward to several years' use out of it.

    What do you think? Would you own a Chromebook?
    FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC
    -"To Serve and To Protect"

    "I don't trust my government, I don't trust the people who work for my government, and I believe that the evidence suggests that it's irrational to offer such trust." - Ken White

    "The first 90% of the project is done, now we're working on the remaining 90%." -SoylentNews

  2. #2

    Re: My Chromebook Experience

    I walked by one the other day at OfficeVomit while I needed to waste 15 minutes. I noticed how inexpensive they are. I'm just about through with windows machines in general, so the fact that they are so easy to afford (most under the $200 mark before tax) makes them a relatively inexpensive pool to jump into for a first timer.

    Thanks for this review. I'm now, almost certain that if I have an extra $150 or so, I'll probably pick one up second hand or refurbished.

  3. #3
    Y39 + NinjaDuck = Doom!
    Yttrium's Avatar
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    Re: My Chromebook Experience

    $150 will buy you a new one - I hear the C270 (?) is brought up on a lot of forums, so it's popular and reasonable. Again, the key items I saw over and over are: 4GB RAM, get a nice screen. The rest handles itself.

    This thing is nicer than people think it is. It's still a general computing device, and you probably won't miss your laptop much, if at all Ask questions if you have any, of course.
    FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC
    -"To Serve and To Protect"

    "I don't trust my government, I don't trust the people who work for my government, and I believe that the evidence suggests that it's irrational to offer such trust." - Ken White

    "The first 90% of the project is done, now we're working on the remaining 90%." -SoylentNews

  4. #4
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    Re: My Chromebook Experience

    I had one of the original CR-48's, and did much the same thing, installing Linux on it. They're great devices if the majority of what you want in a laptop is web browsing. I had Linux installed so I could SSH with X11 forwarding.
    "Complaining is the modern metagame" - BNet forums

  5. #5
    Y39 + NinjaDuck = Doom!
    Yttrium's Avatar
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    Re: My Chromebook Experience

    While I did use Crouton to install a Linux chroot environment, I didn't replace the Chrome OS. I didn't feel the need - once you get copy/paste working between Chrome and the chroot, there's no reason to even set up another browser in the Linux environment. Shifting between them (alt-ctrl-=> or alt-ctrl-<=) is the same as a workspace shift, for me. Elegant, fast, and simple

    The Chrome OS environment is so snappy and responsive - and easily restored - that I prefer to use it over the Linux environment for day-to-day actions. YMMV, of course.
    FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC
    -"To Serve and To Protect"

    "I don't trust my government, I don't trust the people who work for my government, and I believe that the evidence suggests that it's irrational to offer such trust." - Ken White

    "The first 90% of the project is done, now we're working on the remaining 90%." -SoylentNews

  6. #6
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    Re: My Chromebook Experience

    I had mine actually set up as a dual boot, but that was all prior to the chroot method.
    "Complaining is the modern metagame" - BNet forums

  7. #7
    hella Star-Demon :3
    MI Redeux's Avatar
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    Re: My Chromebook Experience

    I don't have any use for these, but I can see why they would be perfect for non-magnet schools, especially in K-12; at least until the students are learning/using CAD/system's programming. The specs and user space is too low end for me, even in the traveling context. ARM does not work for me either for general computing because of the limited amount of proprietary software that compiles/exists for ARM.
    Last edited by MI Redeux; January 2nd, 2015 at 09:57 PM.

  8. #8
    hella Star-Demon :3
    MI Redeux's Avatar
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    Re: My Chromebook Experience

    So, are you still liking it Yttrium?

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