Monday, December 12, 2011

Free Chromebook

I'm on a plane at the moment, flying to Chicago. It turns out, Google is promoting its Chromebooks by offering them free for the duration of your flight. You give them your name, email address and swipe a credit card, and you get free use of a Chromebook and on board wi-fi. This is great for two reasons. First, I can entertain myself with cat pictures and rage comics for the three hours it will take me to get to Chicago. Second, I get to play around with a Chromebook.

I've only been using it for about a half an hour, but already I can say I would not buy one of these. The main reason is that it is just not the right device for me. I mean, it's basically a computer that can only run Chrome. Don't get me wrong, Chrome is a great browser, but I just need my computers to be able to do more than that.

I do understand the use case for a computer like this. Let's say you run something like a large customer support call center. The software needs for your call center could easily be filled by web applications. With something like a Chromebook, if a computer craps out on you, IT can just grab another Chromebook off a shelf and your employee can get back to taking calls.

Unfortunately, even if I were in a position where a computer like this were to be useful, I still wouldn't buy a Chromebook. The experience of trying to write this blog post has been little short of infuriating. The hardware simply does not work well, at all. The keyboard regularly registers double key presses, resuultiing in worrds like thesee. The touch pad is not much better. It will often not register your finger movements at all. I suppose it's possible that these computers have seen a lot of miles, and a lot of different people have used them, but it just makes me wonder how long it would be before my own use would result in similar behavior.

One thing this experience has shown me is the appeal of a netbook. I brought my laptop with me on this trip, and I can see where my laptop would just be too big to comfortably use on a plane. It is also quite heavy compared to this. If I were to travel more, I think something like an Eee PC would be a worthwhile investment. But that will have to wait. I think my next purchase is going to be an Android tablet of some flavor so I can read on the train during my morning and evening commute.

Update: I'm waiting for my plane back to San Francisco, and they have the free Chrommebooks again. I'm just writing to confirmm that this CChromebook has the samme problems that the last one had. Ick. Oh, well. The frustration is worth the free wifi.

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