Linked by Eugenia Loli on Sat 15th Feb 2014 22:02 UTC
Google When my 3+ year old DELL laptop died a few weeks back, I decided to give Chromebooks a try. So the Acer C720, at just $199, became my new laptop. This is my experience with it so far.

The Acer C720 is similar in specs to other Chromebooks currently on the market. It's a Haswell architecture with a dual core Celeron, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB flash, HDMI-out, 3 USB, webcam, Bluetooth, and a 1366x768 px screen. It's 0.8" tall, and weighs just 2.76 lbs. Its battery life is rated for 8.5 hours but in real world usage rated at about 7 hours. You can view its specs in detail here.

The laptop feels very light, sturdy and of a good build quality. Its keyboard is easy to get accustomed to, and I had no trouble at all, coming from a radically different keyboard design on the DELL. The ChromeOS function keys are really handy too, e.g. to change brightness, volume etc. The touchpad has the right size, position and responsiveness too.

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RE[3]: Great Linux machines
by Eugenia on Sun 16th Feb 2014 01:53 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Great Linux machines"
Member since:

Replacing an SSD and adding more RAM by opening the laptop manually is not what most people who buy Chromebooks want to do. My point is that currently, the models offered by Google are *almost* all the same, and I find this very limiting: 11.6" screens with the same res, 16 GB SSD, 2 GB RAM for all sub-$250 laptops. There's no actual choice.

Personally, I could upgrade them, but I refuse to do so. I've left that world of tinkering years ago. Now, something that I buy, either works as I expected it to, or it ends up in the bin (sometimes I don't even donate it - I trash it to the recyclables and never look back at it). I don't have the patience or the interest for tinkering anymore. I'm 40 years old now, I prefer to do other things (e.g. cooking, gardening etc -- I know, I grew soft ;-).

If in the long run this Chromebook doesn't work as I want it to, I will buy a Macbook. Macbooks were my 1st choice in fact, but they were so much more expensive, that I decided to give Chromebooks a chance (at that price it made sense to do so). So far, since I do my main work with a PC, the Chromebook works ok for casual browsing when I sit in front of the TV. I use my iPad when I travel, or my Galaxy Nexus.

My previous laptop (the one that died) was running Ubuntu. I use the best device for each circumstance (based on my needs, of course), so I'm OS-agnostic. But what I buy, it has to work as it's expected of it, out of the box.

Edited 2014-02-16 02:01 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[4]: Great Linux machines
by shotsman on Sun 16th Feb 2014 04:13 in reply to "RE[3]: Great Linux machines"
shotsman Member since:

Your post echoes my thoughts very well.
The small amount of RAM/SSD is IMHHO Very limiting especially with a pretty good CPU at its heart.

The screen resolution is also a limiting factor. Small form factor does not always mean a crippled screen resolution. There are plenty devices out there with a similar form factor (or smaller) that give a higher screen resolution.

It is almost as if Google are dipping their toe in the water but are not sure where to go or what to do next.

That is a shame. This might be a dead end platform (like the surface-RT perhaps?).

My 2008 13in MacBook is still going strong. It runs CentOS. I recently upgraded it with a 480Gb SSD. Even the Core 2 Duo CPU seems to fly now.

Nice to see a post from you again

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: Great Linux machines
by Luke McCarthy on Sun 16th Feb 2014 14:03 in reply to "RE[4]: Great Linux machines"
Luke McCarthy Member since:

It does feel like a dead-end platform at the moment. I would like to see Google become much more ambitious with Chrome OS to make it in to a fully-blown OS. They should develop an offline video editing app and bundle it with Chrome OS (written as a bundle PNaCl app).

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[4]: Great Linux machines
by moondevil on Sun 16th Feb 2014 07:57 in reply to "RE[3]: Great Linux machines"
moondevil Member since:

Nice to see you posting.

I fully agree with you. Nowadays either things work out of the box, or it isn't worth my time. This goes to hardware, OS releases and programming language/framework flavour of the month.

As for the Chromebooks, I am on the same page as well. For average Joe/Jane that only do Facebook/Webmail, they are ok, for the rest better get a small laptop with a proper OS.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[4]: Great Linux machines
by Wondercool on Sun 16th Feb 2014 12:02 in reply to "RE[3]: Great Linux machines"
Wondercool Member since:

I just wanted to show that if you really want to upgrade your Chromebook to something capable of running most applications, it is possible. With my C710, that is actually for free, and takes only 30 min.
The hardware is so good that I now use it as a primary laptop, for every type of use I have. I even got rid of my tablet.

ChromeOS is going up in the world, sales went up enormously. I totally agree the combination of cheap and 'can't break, simple' software works well, but I would love to see what the breakdown is between people using it as primary computer (but let's say people who only browse and email), people who use it as a secondary computer (couch, tablet replacement) and those who wipe Chrome and put Linux on it.

It's clear that Google deliberately made it more difficult to change the computer, there is nothing stopping it from putting on Windows except for secure boot. The soldered RAM is something only on the latest models.

I don't have nor want to spend more than 1000 usd on a Macbook, I think it's just too much, even if they are clearly gorgeous machines.

What I am hoping for the future is that the Chromebook manufacturers build the same laptop but with the usual hardware interfaces, for the same price or something higher but without any OS. I think that would sell well.

PS Tinkering has nothing to do with age, I am 47 ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: Great Linux machines
by moondevil on Sun 16th Feb 2014 14:17 in reply to "RE[4]: Great Linux machines"
moondevil Member since:

ChromeOS is going up in the world, sales went up enormously.

At most this is an US phenomen, I haven't any Chrome device on the wild during my consulting travels across Europe.

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE[4]: Great Linux machines
by bassbeast on Wed 19th Feb 2014 14:10 in reply to "RE[3]: Great Linux machines"
bassbeast Member since:

But what exactly is the appeal of it other than just going for the most dirt cheap thing you can find?

After all your article makes it pretty clear its just a glorified thin client, no different than what we had in the 90s like the Sun Ray, so other than its $250 what would make you choose this over something where you can run any OS you want and use it offline with full functionality?

I don't know, maybe its just me, but when you can get quad core AMD jaguar laptops and netbooks in the $350 USD range I just don't see the appeal. And doesn't it still require wiping the OS and then sideloading and using hacked bootloaders to load a different OS? Again maybe its just me but I find a company taking X86, one of the most open computing platforms in history, and making it as locked down as a cellphone VERY uncomfortable. Sure cheap is one thing but surely its not the ONLY thing, so what am I missing? What is the appeal?

And for those buying them as thin clients...sure if you are in a large corp with VM servers I can at least GET that, in a large corp having a single OS image is certainly easier to manage than a ton of desktops. but this thing is being marketed to consumers who will NOT have their own OS image servers and for them? I just don't see any upside other than price and honestly, at least in the USA, you can get a refurb with a full OS for the same price if price is all you care about.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: Great Linux machines
by Eugenia on Wed 19th Feb 2014 18:21 in reply to "RE[4]: Great Linux machines"
Eugenia Member since:

The appeal is that I paid $200. It was a matter of being cheap, AND not needing too much out of my laptop. If I wanted "so much more", I would have gone for a Macbook, as I mentioned in a previous comment. But I only needed a "few more" (e.g. skype), that I was willing to leave behind for the RIGHT PRICE. So that right price is $200.

Reply Parent Score: 1