Gadchick Reviews; The Google Chromebook

I’m an early adopter to Google Docs (way back to the Writely days), and love just about anything Google makes. From the Nexus tablet (hands down the best tablet for the money), to the ability to mod your phone with Android, and who doesn’t love YouTube. So when Google announced that they were working on their very own computer OS, I was thrilled; and when they showed off the first line of Chromebooks last year, I was all over that as well....until I saw the price! It would cost almost the same as netbook running Windows.

Last week Google made their first attempt at producing a laptop people may buy. When they came out with the newest Samsung model, which is a mere $250, I didn’t pause to pre-order it. Was it worth it?

The first thing you need to understand about Chrome OS has what I like to call a Cloud OS--which is to say it works best when you have an Internet connection or 3G. You can perform tasks offline, but it’s limited at best.

The second thing you need to know is Chromebooks are not powerful computers--nor do they need to be; Chromebooks are best used as secondary computers--a lightweight device that you travel with or use on the couch; it does normal web tasks beautifully and can do basic Word Processing and Spreadsheets like a champ. But it stops there. In short, it’s everything I imagined it would be for an easy notebook.

If you use the Chrome browser on your PC or Mac then Chrome OS isn’t very different; the biggest difference is the task bar on the bottom.

If you are looking for a computer for your kids, you really can’t go wrong. It’s not going to run some graphic intensive video game (although you can download game apps from the app store). If you’re a broke college student, a Google fangirl, then this is the laptop to get.

If you’ve never used Google Docs, give it a try; it’s not a Office Word killer, but it’s free, so you can’t complain about the price; what it does do better than Word, is allows multiple users work on a document at the same time; it’s perfect for collaboration and sharing a netbook in a family.

This is the one feature I was particularly fond of was the ability to have multiple users; it’s ridiculously easy to set up; once it’s there anyone with a Google Account can set up an account on the Chromebook. Once they do, it automatically syncs all the other Chrome accounts they have--so if they happened to be browsing a page on Chrome for iPad, they can get that same page opened on their Chromebook. It also has a great battery life; my first use got well over 5 hours using the brightest screen settings; and, unlike my Mac Air, the battery life on the Chromebook didn't start heating up that I could hardly put it in my lap.

SO is it worth it? I still think the price could be lower, but it’s a solid laptop for somewhat looking for a secondary computer. Unlike a normal computer, it’s pretty foolproof; you can’t delete a file and corrupt your computer. There’s also hardly any learning curve. As an added bonus, Chromebook comes with 12 passes to Gogo (which let’s you access the Internet aboard most airplanes domestically) and 100 GB of Google Drive storage--both of those things are worth a little more than $200, so if you use those services, then Chromebooks are a remarkable deal. For 16GB, and weighing under 3 lbs, it is a great deal. It has one SD card slot, and 1 USB port but don't expect much more with a light notebook. It also has one HDMI out for plugging into your big screen.

The holidays are around the corner, so if you are thinking about putting one under the Christmas tree, you can order one here. Order early--they seem to be selling rather quick.

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