As most of you know, the GERD works on and with computers, and has for more than a few years. Some time ago, someone far smarter that I floated the idea of a web-based operating system for computers. The benefits included low cost, faster operation, and easier maintenance. The main drawback to this brilliant idea was relatively slow internet connections (most were still dial-up at this time), and very limited Wi-Fi. So, your low cost computer couldn’t do much at home, and almost nothing on the road. The idea kept germinating until Google developed two new “Chromebooks”, named for the operating system (Chrome) they run on. Although not truly a web-based operating system, the Chromebook leverages the web for most of its applications.
I recently obtained the Acer C7 Chromebook and, much to my surprise, I’ve been cautiously impressed. I had imagined a glorified doorstop, but once I played with one I noticed the peppy response; even video played smoothly without all the herky-jerkyness I’ve seen with most net-books. It has a 320GB 5400 RPM hard drive, plenty of space for my “on the road again” movie collection (the Samsung Chromebook has only a 16GB solid state hard drive, better for speed and battery life, but really, really small!).
The Acer C7 Chromebook comes with 2GB RAM – I upped mine to 4GB, but be careful – doing so yourself voids the warranty, and while I did notice a performance bump after the upgrade, it is not essential . As for applications, don’t get confused like I did – the Google Play web site features Android applications and they will not work on the Chromebook. Go to the Chrome site (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/home?hl=en) – not all the apps in the world are available, but the list is pretty good (and growing) and a shocking number of these apps are free. Yes, Pandora, Netflix, DropBox, You Tube and Angry Birds are available along with the usual Google suspects, Gmail, Google Drive, and all the Google Microsoft Office alternatives (Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc).
The good news is that the Chromebook is light (3 lbs), has a great screen (11.6″ 1366 x 768 HD), 3 USB ports, a 2-in-1 card reader, and that spacious hard drive (320GB). The bad news is average battery life (3.5 hours), poor speakers and no Bluetooth, but for $199, what do you want? Google throws in 12 free sessions of GoGo® Inflight Internet and 100GB of free Google Drive space (for two years), if you have DropBox or other cloud storage, this may not be needed. Go to the Google Play web site for more info (https://play.google.com/store/devices?feature=corpus_selector)
Remember, this is not a full laptop computer – you will not load Office apps, iTunes, or any other Windows-based apps here. However, the Chrome App Store offers many alternatives that perform most of these tasks well, mostly free. Besides, it’s fun to play with the thing!
So now I’m a Chromer, a Chrome-Head, a Chrome-ite, a Chrome-domer (OK, I’ll stop now). My Acer C7 will definitely be in the GERD’s backpack on my next trip. I’ve already loaded a ton of music and movies for those times I’m not connected, and have my Google Drive packed full of needed stuff when I am online.