Monday, April 09, 2012

Chromebook: Comparison

Many people have trouble understanding the simplicity and power behind my choice. Such as the ones who say, "You could get a netbook for the same price." They are thinking they get more with a netbook; a whole computer.

But when I started researching my options, I found that the "whole computer" part was accurate only in technical terms. The netbook operating system is downsized and the usual programs run sluggishly. Since they try to recreate the entire computer experience in a smaller package, they are heavier, and have a shorter battery life, than a Chromebook.

The computer experience is shrunken, too, from the smaller screen to the narrower keyboard. While the Chromebook gives me more of a laptop size screen, and a full keyboard. And it should, because that is all there is to it.

Netbooks are primarily sold as a way of browsing and accessing email. Over and over I was told they are not meant, or designed, to serve as a full service computer. Which is the central complaint of most negative reviews about the Chromebook, too. So what makes or breaks someone's decision between the two?

If we need the portability and a program that will only run on an operating system, netbooks will give us both. If we aren't sure of getting Internet access to reach the program we need, the netbook will serve it up reliably, if slowly. When I run across articles which outline the zippiest alternative programs to install on a netbook instead of the ones people are used to, I know there's tradeoffs, and additional expenses, lurking here.

Either mow the lawn or race the car.
Of course, there's a better portable computer experience if we get an actual laptop or a high-end netbook, like the Mac Air or Sony Vaio. But now we are talking about prices that are much higher.

It doesn't make sense to buy a big truck just for those times we purchase something that won't fit in our economical car.

Likewise, it doesn't make any sense to mess up our mobility experience... for those times we need to run programs on an operating system.

In one article on the Chromebook, the reviewer quoted a work colleague who wondered aloud why anyone wouldn't just get a Mac Air.

Gee, I don't know. Maybe because they start at $999? I already checked my couch cushions for spare change. Maybe I should do it again.

There are folks who need the portability and the power of an expensive laptop. But I don't. I need a good computer at a reasonable price, so I bought a desktop. Then, with the money left over from not buying an expensive laptop, I bought the portability, lightness, and quickness of a Chromebook.

It truly is the best of both worlds.

  • This post is one of a series of articles about living with my Chromebook. See all my posts about life in the cloud.

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