It’s been a great month with this wonderful little device so far, but I certainly plan on keeping it around after. While I still have one column left in this series, I will continue to update readers on how I am using it or new developments for the Chrome OS. Make sure that you are checking out my MMObility column over at Massively.com for updates on games that are perfect for the Chromebook. Remember, I am running the Samsung Chromebook — the series 3 — so you might experience different performance with your series 5 550 or other Chromebook. The great thing about this device is that it is updated automatically and switches the conversation from hardware to software. So many of our standard PC performance issues are due to poor software, and Google is attacking it from the correct side. Don’t get me wrong, better processors make a heck of a lot of difference, but when you are able to open any Chromebook and get pretty much the same experience, that’s a good thing.
While I still wait on some questions from Google, I wanted to share with you how another member or my household — my wife — has fell in love with the Samsung Chromebook. She has literally taken it from me at times, to the point that I considered getting her one for her own use. This is a house with plenty of gadgets in it, though. Right now we have 2 gaming PCs, 2 laptops, a Google Nexus 7, an iPad, an iPhone 5 and a Galaxy Note. I just sold off my Inspiron Duo netbook to make a little room, and have been tempted to upgrade all of my PCs with SSDs. I rarely use anything but the browser anymore (except for tablet gaming for my other job, of course) so it really doesn’t do me much good to suffer with standard hard drives. They’re hot and noisy.
I’ve learned a lot by watching her use the Chromebook. She tends to leave open many more tabs than I do. I will go with 5 or 6 tops, maybe a few more if I am working. She typically has a dozen or more tabs open. In those tabs she will have email/Gchat, tumblr, the browser-based game she works on and several other tabs. I’ve watched her check her Twitter and then open up a funny video or watch some news or entertainment clip. The Chromebook not only worked well, but it performed just as I have been describing it to people: as a tablet with a keyboard attached. It’s really more than that, however, because it is a full browser that can run Flash and other extensions. This opens the ‘Books up to gaming (as I have been writing about) and to all sorts of things that you really cannot do on a tablet.
The battery life is also excellent and will run her for at least 5 or 6 hours of heavy use. Granted, this is based on only the occasional video viewing but I’d say that’s pretty standard for a web user. We often let our browsers sit there with several tabs open, just as she does. What I was most impressed with was the fact that even with heavy usage the device barely gets warm. When it does, the heat is concentrated mostly in the middle (where you would expect it) but only ever became significantly warm when she would be using the ‘Book at night with it lying flat on the covers, meaning with no ventilation. If I am using it on the countertop, laptop or on a coffee table the heat is never an issue and is not noticeable at all. In comparison my other two laptops and her desktop almost scream when the fans kick in, another reason to move to this Chromebook.
The fact is that most internet users need only the best experience in a few areas: email, social networking, some gaming and Googling random facts like “How long do giraffes live for?” The Samsung Chromebook is not only good for that, but weighs nothing. It feels like a very light Ultrabook, something that made a huge difference to my wife. Even though she can grab her 14 inch laptop to keep an eye on the web while she is watching TV or off work, the Chromebook is just plain easier to move around with. If you’ve ever tried to sit with a 4 or 5 pound laptop while on the couch, you’ll know what I am talking about. The standard laptop experience can often be a desktop experience in order to take some of the weight off.
When I am gaming or watching videos, the Chromebook’s battery does go down much faster. I still get several hours out of it but I could see the battery life being somewhat of a hassle on a very long trip. The speakers are not as loud as I wish they would often be, but if it’s the only sound source in the room (in other words, if the TV isn’t screaming) then the sound is just fine. My wife’s iPad 2 still has better volume, though, so that’s an area that needs improvement.
Watching her work on the ‘Book taught me a lot. She does a lot of surfing, gaming and viewing while on it and it lasts her at least most of the day. She closes it when it’s not in use, but does leave it open when she gets up to grab food or to do stuff around the house. Even if we forget to close it it will go into sleep mode and the battery does not seem to be effected.
The most enjoyable aspect of the Samsung Chromebook is how it feels while typing. I do not type in any correct fashion so I do have some issues with my thumbs moving the mouse around when it doesn’t need to, but the keyboard feels large and snappy, and when the ‘Book is laying on a surface the thin keyboard feels really solid. I imagine that’s because it is backed up by the countertop. My standard laptops feel like bricks now.
Next week I will do a wrap-up video that shows all of the pros and cons of this device. I’ll also be finishing up with my games list, so be sure to keep an eye on the MMObility column for any other games that I might cover in the future. That column is dedicated to mobile gaming, so be sure to bookmark it.
Thanks again and see you next week!