Staples sent me a Samsung Chromebook to check out. I’ve been playing around with it for two weeks now and I have to say that I’m pretty impressed. In fact, I’m going to skip right to the chase and say if you have an older kid who needs a computer for back to school I think the Samsung Chromebook is the way to go. My husband refers to it as the Google Internet Box, and it sort of is. But seriously, that’s perfect as far as I’m concerned.
First, a little background. I have an ASUS netbook that my husband and I bought each other as an anniversary gift three years back. I was sort of shocked to discover that the Samsung Chromebook retails for just $269, which is about half of what I paid for that netbook back in 2010. I was also pleased to discover that my new Chromebook is lighter, thinner, faster and has a better built in webcam. I found myself wondering is it that portable PCs have dropped in price that much over the past few years, and I just hadn’t noticed? Or is the Chromebook that much of a deal? So I poked around on a few websites and looked at a few flyers, and arrived at the conclusion that the Samsung Chromebook is a crazy good deal. Even with the Back to School tech sales that are on right now, I didn’t see anything comparable that wasn’t refurbished.
When my husband saw my new machine, kind of hard not to notice as I was setting myself up on the couch to watch TV with a big shiny new Chromebook on my lap, he said, “A Chromebook, eh? Isn’t that just a Google Internet Box?” His comment made me feel a little defensive of my shiny new tech, but in many ways he’s right. First this isn’t the PC you’re going to use to play a first person shooter or an MMORPGs. It’s not a gaming machine. I won’t be cozying up on the couch to play Star Wars online anytime soon. Secondly, there’s no Windows operating system, everything is Google based. Everything. Which leads to the third unique thing about the Chromebook, you can’t install software on it. The only programs you have access to are those that come preloaded, and those that you pick up via the apps store.
All of which works for me. As a blogger, I think my needs are actually pretty similar to a student’s. I don’t need a gaming machine. I need something I can sit and type up posts on and maybe do a little photo editing. I need something that lets me browse the web. I need something that let’s me access social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. I need something that let’s me access my email. And the Chromebook does all of that with grace and speed.
As a mom, I’m often interrupted during my work. So I love that when I flip open the Chromebook it is instantly on, sitting there waiting for me just where I left off with no pesky log in screen or boot up time. Oh and I also have a bad habit of leaving at least half a dozen tabs open at a time, which didn’t seem to slow down my new Chromebook in the slightest.
The Chromebook is set up so that everything is tied into your Google account, so at first I was a bit worried about swapping between accounts. I use three different accounts; a personal account, one for this blog and one for my gaming blog. So I was worried about being tied to accessing just one, but it’s not an issue. I am able to access multiple Google accounts at once, without being forced to log out. However, swapping between accounts is also quick and easy. Which means I can easily hand the Chromebook off to my hubby and let him use it too.
What I loved…
I loved how portable the Chromebook is. It is so light and thin, it feels like a tablet with a keyboard attached to it (it weighs only 2.4 lbs). I also love the generously sized 11.6″ screen. And as I previously mentioned I am seriously impressed by the low pricepoint.
I worried that being tied into my Google account would be a downside, but instead it’s one of my favourite features. The very first time I turned on the Chromebook all of the various Chrome browser extensions that I had installed in the past on my PC (for Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Alexa, etc) were already there. How cool is that? I also love that I can swap seamlessly between working on the Chromebook to working on the PC. Everything I do on one is accessible on the other, as everything is stored virtually on the Google drive.
What I was so-so on…
It took me a bit to get used to the keyboard. Everything seemed too spaced out, and the layout is a bit unique. For example there is no CapsLock key. The many built in keyboard shortcuts took a bit of getting used to, but in the end I found myself liking the layout.
What I hated…
I can’t stand the touchpad. I find cutting and pasting chunks of text next to impossible, mainly because even after several days practice I can’t consistently get the right click to go off. (to “right click” on this touch pad you click simultaneously with two fingers, something I’m apparently incapable of.) A peripheral mouse is a must have on this machine for me.
I spent some time looking through the app store and quickly found a few free educational apps for the kids. Something which I almost immediately regretted doing, as now each time I break out the Chromebook I instantly have to start fending off pleas to play “the special games”.
Overall, I am impressed with the Samsung Chromebook. I love how portable and light it is. I love the screen size. I even love that it’s a “Google internet box”. I think the $269 price can’t be beat, and I think it would be the perfect starter computer for older kids, or for those who are moving out as they head back to school and need a PC of their own. The Samsung Chromebook is available at Staples and retails for $269. You can get it in person at your local staples store, or order online from staples.ca with free shipping.
EDIT: I later revisted this product after using it for half a year. Head over here to read my further opinions and thoughts on why the Samsung Chromebook can turn into an unattractive paperweight if you’re not careful.