Of course, that was also a very different time. In 2010, Wi-Fi wasn’t nearly as ubiquitous as it is today. Tethering was something I would only do under the most urgent of circumstances, given my (rooted) phone’s measly data plan allowance. The Chromebook was here, but the world wasn’t quite ready for the Chromebook. In 2019, a public space, restaurant, or even a shopping center without free Wi-Fi is basically unconscionable. Tethering using your smartphone is easier and more practical than ever. Connectivity is all around us, and technologies like Bluetooth and mesh networking have made our lives the most wire-free they’ve been since, well, wires were a thing. We live in a world where the Chromebook, and Chrome OS, should be thriving. But increasingly, it looks like Google’s cloud-first laptop platform has hit a dead end, and I’m not sure there are many available detours that can get it back on track.
I haven’t yet used Chrome OS for any appreciable amount of time other than a short stint after getting it running on my Surface Pro 4 – a fun side project – but a good Chromebook has been on my list for a long time. I gave my aunt one a few years ago, set it up, and never heard any tech help question from her ever again – the device has been rock solid, zero issues, and she loves it.
A radical departure from her Windows laptop before that, for sure, which was a support nightmare.
In any event, I find it difficult to say anything meaningful about the linked editorial, since I simply lack the long-term experience as a user of the platform. I do think Chrome OS’ slowing development – if that is actually taking place – might simply be because the platform has grown up, has found its niche, and is content settling there. I don’t think Chromebooks have it in them to truly break into the wider PC market, since Windows and Apple PCs have that pretty well locked down.
I just got a $200 Chromebook for my parents, and was very impressed. Will definitely think twice before getting a tablet again, especially since it can run most of the same android apps (and Linux apps). With a bit more memory, I could even comfortably do development on them (depending on which language you are using, you could likely do development on them even nowadays).
I agree with the author, and it’s a damned shame.
I took advantage of a ‘Buy a Pixel 4, get a HP Chromebook 14’ to see what a Chromebook is like.
I love the ergonomics of it (light, fast, nimble, good keyboard), and the always-on state of it… It works well for emailing and webbing, and even watching stuff on netflix.
However, I’m a developer by day. Android specifically, so Android Studio is my daily driver. I was thrilled to find out that AS is available for the Chromebook…and immediately disgusted by the speed (or lack thereof). It’s unusable for me.
Okay, so I started looking for other solutions. There’s lots of web-editors/IDEs (not where I mostly program these days). What I was deeply surprised not to be able to find were native languages for Chrome. I couldn’t find BASICs, Turbo Pascals, Forths, etc.
All the Android-based compilers were half-baked, and most had been abandoned.
How is a developer going to help Google pull the Chromebooks out of the doldrums? Answer: they’re not, clearly.
Hrm…maybe I’m not being fair. What if I got a powerful enough Chromebook to do at least Android development on? Chromebooks are super cheap compared to PC’s, right? Let’s look at the cost of a powerful one. I start at Argos, known in the UK for having cheap prices: Pixel Slate…£1549 for an i7, £1158 for an i5. HP has a 15.6 Chromebook with i5 and 128GB storage for £600.
…and if I did fork out for these sorts of prices, I’d have a machine that I couldn’t connect my fitbit watch or any other specific hardware that required drivers to.
At LaptopsDirect, £600 will get me an i5 gaming PC with a GTX graphics card and 1TB storage. £380 will get me an i7 PC with comparable specs to the top-end Pixel Slate. £800 a Thinkpad L390 thin and light or £840 a Yoga Core laptop capable of development. £1600 gets a good PC laptop, and £1800 gets me a Macbook Pro.
No end of language support, most external devices are supported on one platform or the other.
Now, PC’s and Macs don’t have some of the features of Chromebooks, (low-maintenance, mostly) but most of the ones that matter to me in a much-cheaper package?
I can’t see how Chromebooks can compete long-term. Good enough for throwaway computers for school, but as grown-up tools? I’m not seeing it.
BTW, I’d *love* to be disabused of any of these notions. Show me how to compile good, native, software for a Chromebook, or show me how to buy a Chromebook for equivalent prices of PC laptops, and I might be interested.
Chromebooks are mostly cheap, that is their main selling point, almost their only selling point. Yeah, I know that ChromeOS it is intended to be super secure, and that I can install uncomfortably some development tools. So these are basically disposable computers, that is why their main market so far is education.
The high end ones make no sense, as this is a glorified web browser. Who wants to buy a 1000+ bucks web browser which has uncertain duration of OS support? Google can kill this product anytime.
I’m a daily Chromebook/ChromeOS user. It gets used for daily web browsing, video playing, and lots of ssh/tmux into servers. I’m on my 2nd Samsung Chromebook with about 5-6 years of being on this path. ChromeOS has improved immensely since it first began. It has great web browsing support, file support, terminal support and now Android apps support. Recently, Linux-based VMs have appeared so high end users can run specific Linux apps such as gedit, FIrefox, GIMP, Visual Studio, etc.. ChromeOS does most of what I want and need, so it’s here to stay for me. I recently put my folks on a new Asus C434 and haven’t heard a peep about any trouble whatsoever.
The author has crafted a click-baity article that has been reshared prominently on Microsoft-friendly websites. Be careful what you claim as your words can be used against you.
This is such a foreseeable problem too. Power users were always going to find the experience restricting so long as these basic tenants of desktop computing were not addressed.
I’ve had the same complaints with android too, although I generally don’t press the issue there because I realize that it is not meant to replace a desktop. I wish it could emulate a real desktop better for emergencies so I could vacation without a laptop and be confident that I can do everything I need to even though it’s less efficient. Android hardware is very capable, if only android had provided a standard file explorer with dialog boxes and other basic desktop primitives the situation would be so much better, but I digress.
ChromeOS just wasn’t engineered for power users who need more than web apps and google isn’t interested in building the foundations that would make it a good desktop. I’ve only had two experiences with chromeos when the owners came to me asking for help and their needs were bumping up against chromeos’s inadequacies. Granted it’s possible the majority of chromeos users don’t have problems, but it’s clear to me that chromeos is restrictive even for normal users who are better served by a real desktop OS.
I agree with the author, and it’s a damned shame.
I took advantage of a ‘Buy a Pixel 4, get a HP Chromebook 14’ to see what a Chromebook is like.”
Spare me please. Chromebooks are and always were stupid pieces of junk.
Who seriously thinks a device that requires-no mandates an internet connection is seriously a good idea? Who the hell is this piece of crap aimed at? Certainly not low-icome users despite the prices seen for them. Buying a Chromebook is almost as stupid as buying a cellphone or tablet or anyother device that doesn’t come with a sd slot for storage expansion.