Saturday, November 24, 2012

Samsung Chromebook After A Few Days of Testing

You would think that after a few days my opinion of the Samsung Chromebook would diminish a bit. I think, if I had unrealistic expectations, that it would. However, knowing that the $249 laptop is essentially a dedicated browser, I have had a few surprises and one disappointment that comes to mind.

Let's get the disappointment out of the way. The Bluetooth on my Chromebook sucks. It has difficulty detecting devices; and when it does detect them, it can't connect. It's quite possible that the trouble connecting the Chromebook via Bluetooth is limited to this particular machine. I'm disappointed; but, I'm not so disappointed that I'll get on the phone with Samsung about it.

In addition, it seems to shut down sometimes, when I simply close the lid to put it to sleep. The only way I know is when I open it up again and see the white boot up screen.  I suspect that it crashes. However, it's not too big a deal; it boots fast enough that it's not as aggravating as it would be with a Windows laptop.

On to the good parts.

I'm not the sort to open up a jillion browser tabs at once. Thus, the Chromebook has been able to keep up with my browsing needs, even keeping a couple of background tabs running, such as music and crosh.

That's my next like about the Chromebook, its shell app, crosh. With it, I can SSH to my shell account and run TTYTTER remotely. Of course, my interest is more than a twitter client. Being able to SSH to a remote Linux box allows me to use some of the built-in Linux network utilities when checking connectivity at client sites. So, I used the stripped down Linux Chromebook to connect to a full Linux machine. From the shell, there is little difference. It can be flaky when run as a tab; so I run it separately.

In addition, the remote Windows computer control also allows me to access client computers with minimal trouble. I simply log out of my personal Google desktop on the Chromebook and log in to the account attached to the machine I need to administer. In a practical sense, I can set up Google accounts on the Chromebook for each client. When I need to remote in, I switch accounts. This works because as admin for clients with Google Apps, I always have access to their admin account.

Battery life is also a great benefit of the Chromebook. 6.5 hours is plenty to get me through a workday. The greatest advantage is that the battery drains very slowly; but, it recharges much more quickly. I have begun leaving the charger in my van; this way, I can charge the Chromebook as I'm driving. By the time I arrive at my destination, it has enough charge to do whatever work is necessary.

Keyboard commands are abundant on the Chromebook. Many keyboard commands are standard, as you would expect on other platforms. However, the Chromebook adds a few additional key combinations to do things that are particular to the Chromebook.

Something that I forgot in the excitement of checking out a new toy is that I principally got the Chromebook to serve as a conduit for posting photos and content to the web quickly. With the holidays, I haven't had much opportunity to put it into production at an event, yet. But, that's the idea.

The Chromebook is light enough and small enough to easily transport. In addition, it has the memory card slot, starts up quickly, and can quickly get me online wherever there is WiFi. It is a simple matter to upload photos and video of an event during or immediately afterwards.

It was very tempting to think of this as a technology purchase for content consumption; but, I do most consumption on a tablet or at the desktop. The Chromebook, in my case, is better suited to sharing content from the field. It's a part of the production component, though not the high-quality sort. More of the good-quality "join the party" type that is better than what you would get from a smartphone.

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