The Chromebook All-In-One Project: Intro and favorite apps/links

Be sure to check out the embedded video above. It will explain everything pretty basically. Essentially I have always toyed with mobile gaming and living and have always enjoyed doing things on the cheap. While I love my gaming rigs or fancier phones, I also have a special place in my heart for tiny or less expensive devices like the Chromebook. Before the most recent and lowest priced Chromebooks, the Samsung series 3 and the Acer C7, most people seemed to admire them from afar. Not anymore… the new batch of ‘Books were some of the hottest items this holiday season. I lucked out and picked up my Samsung from a local Best Buy. I’ve been enjoying it ever since and love the idea of a device that is essentially a tablet in netbook form. Why? It is silent, doesn’t get hot, instantly updates and fights off viruses (more on those later in the series.)

I will be covering actual MMO gaming on the Chromebook in the MMObility column over at every Friday (times will vary.) I normally cover browser-based and mobile games in the column anyway, so this will not be much of a stretch. In this blog I will cover mostly the techy stuff, like how it fights viruses or favorite apps.

Speaking of apps, I’ll start off this month of coverage by introducing some of my most used apps and links… so far. The great thing about a Chromebook is that it essentially feels and acts pretty much like an ultrabook, minus the ultra speeds you might get from a better processor and more ram.

1) Tweetdeck: While I don’t tweet as much as I would like thanks to time and the occasional migraine, Tweetdeck is a simple Twitter and Facebook browser-based client that is very easy to read and navigate. I keep my Chromebook browser zoomed in at 125% at all times (poor vision) but Tweetdeck looks perfect. It offers me a stream of Facebook or Twitter updates at no cost. I especially love the simple light/dark toggle.

2) Gmail Offline: One of my main issues with the standard issue browser Gmail experience is the fact that the text is often too small or too crammed together. I much prefer how it looks and feels on my Nexus 7 tablet. Well, Gmail Offline not only looks roomier and seems to respond much faster than standard Gmail, but it also offers offline capabilities by (if I am not correct, please correct me) downloading a set number of emails. Mine is set to one week. If I have no internet, I can still respond and write emails and it will sync later.

3) Google +: This is a no-brainer, thanks to the fact that you must participate as part of the Google experience, but I absolutely love the access it provides to mature communities and friends. I joined a Chromebook group and have already found out many great tips and tricks from them, and it’s officially hosted by a Google CM. The G+ mobile app for tablets is fantastic, as well.

4) Pixlr Editor: This browser-based “app” is really just a link to the site, but it’s also a fantastic photo editing tool that I use for all of my needs. I often have to crop and share screenshots from video games and I do my share of art and personal pic-taking, so having access to an in-browser app is great. It works easily on this Chromebook and saves as I want it to.

5) Adblock Plus: Now, this is somewhat of a controversial tool and I use it only when doing a ton of research browsing. See, I understand perfectly how the web is paid for by ads, and I make money from those ads technically because they bring revenue into the companies that run or own the sites I write for (no, the ads do not pay me directly. Payola does NOT happen.) But, on this Samsung Chromebook a pop-up ad (yes, people are still using those!) can easily cover a huge chunk of the screen, and some ads can effect performance. So, after trying this out I can say I enjoy it BUT be careful… remember that if no one clicked on an ad at all, we’d all have to be paying a lot more for the web or websites would be shutting down left and right.

6) LastPass: I use this to memorize many of my passwords, but not all. I still keep completely unique passwords for every…single…site..and…game.. (and it’s a LOT) but this extension helps keep them organized. You can even have a secondary password to provide more security.

That’s a starter for now. Over the next 5 weeks I’ll be exploring more of the Chromebook, but bear in mind that I am basing all of this on the Samsung series 3 model, the one with the Exynos processor. So, your experience can vary. Feel free to leave a comment here or on my Massively column, and join up in the official Chromebook group on Google +… it’s fantastic.

See you next week!


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Beau Hindman

I cover games and write, which means that I sit around in my PJs all day, playing games. I love it.