Computer Woes: Is a Chromebook Worth Buying?

I’m having computer problems similar to the ones Diana had recently. I have a decently-powerful HP laptop with a hinge that’s so badly damaged, I can’t close it, and can’t take it out of the house. It has such a large crack in the bottom left side of the case, it’s only a matter of time before the dust gets to it and kills it. It’s also showing symptoms of the network card going bad. I live in fear of it dying and leaving me cut off from the blogs and the Twitter accounts.

I almost low-balled a computer last month, but decided not to do that. If I buy a really cheap PC, I’ll still need a new computer and I’ll be out several hundred dollars in the meantime. Since I don’t play video games any more, I don’t need a super-powerful computer. Here’s what I need my next computer to be capable of:

  1. Fast page-loading. This is essential because I do so much browsing and use social media so extensively. I load hundreds of pages per day. Slow page-loading could easily cost me an hour or more every day.
  2. Sufficient sound and video quality to evaluate photos and music videos. This is the main reason I didn’t just get a cheap laptop. I can’t do the sort of blogging I do with a monitor that gives me washed-out color or a sound card/speakers that are too poor to allow me to turn up the volume on videos.
  3. It must be portable, and that means a laptop. As soon as I get the laptop, though, I’m saving for a desktop.
  4. It must be able to handle the wide-screen HD monitor that I already own, so that when I’m working at home, I can plug in the external monitor and use it as a dual monitor setup. Having two monitors would save me a LOT of editing time. It would also allow me to have my Twitter feeds open where I could see them while I’m doing other things.
  5. It needs to be powerful enough for me to open Tweetdeck and monitor 10 or 12 Twitter feeds without a lot of lag.

If I had the money to invest, I’d go with a Mac. I looked at their latest laptops not long ago, and I like them a lot. But I don’t have that kind of money, which means another HP PC or a Chromebook.

I’m ok picking my own HP if I go that route, but I need help deciding whether a Chromebook is worth looking at, so I wonder if anyone’s used one enough to give me an opinion.

The attractions are that they’re light, about $100 less expensive than PCs with equivalent hardware, and don’t run Windows. Instead, their operating system is a Chrome-based interface that runs on a Linux platform. And I hate Windows 8.

The downside is that it doesn’t have a real hard drive. Instead, it has just enough storage to load apps, and Chromebooks come with 200GB of Google Drive storage for two years. I’m a little iffy about having all my data stored only in the cloud. But I have 1 Terabyte external hard drive that I paid about $60 for. It’s a little bigger than a cigarette pack. At the moment, I have the contents of 5 computers backed up on it, and it still has almost 300 GB of free memory.

So, I’m thinking about getting a Chromebook and using the external hard drive for storage, but not sure about the sound/video quality, nor about things like page-loading and handling a large number of fast-moving Twitter feeds. If anyone has an informed opinion about this, I’d appreciate your input.

 

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16 thoughts on “Computer Woes: Is a Chromebook Worth Buying?

  1. I don’t have any personal experience with chromebook, but I know a few people who have purchased netbooks and had trouble getting their external HDs to run because the netbooks didn’t have enough memory or power. That’s all the advice I’ve got; if you’re looking at using an external drive for your main storage option, make sure the chromebook will recognize and fetch your files quickly, otherwise you’ll be sacrificing a lot of computing power and that means less speed for page loading and other Internet activities.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I don’t know anyone who uses one, and was wondering about whether or not they have trouble recognizing peripherals. I’ll also have to think very carefully about photo editing options if I go that route. Can’t get stuck with a machine that won’t run a decent editor.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I have a Mac…and LOVE it. In fact, love isn’t strong enough. If I can help it, I’ll never buy a PC again. Not a lot of help with your dilemma but I just thought I’d weigh in. Let me know how it goes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t used a Mac since the 90s, and didn’t care for them then, but I went an spent an hour looking at the latest ones last month, and I nearly fell in love. They’re just so expensive. If I had 5K to just drop on some technology, I’d get an airbook and a Mac desktop with a 19′ dual monitor setup.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know that much about Chromebooks, but one of the reasons we didn’t look harder at them is that I’m terribly uncomfortable having my storage all in the cloud (so we’d need to buy an external hard drive), and Sam needs a good bit of computing power for his screenwriting and film work. I suspected what Rose mentioned about the power sacrifice, though I do wish a less expensive, non-Windows 8 computer had fit my needs.

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    • Windows 8 is murderous to the productivity. Even after two years of using it, I still hate it. The interface structure is intuitive enough, but it’s not natural. I’m wondering how much extra it would cost to get one customized and go with Win7.

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      • When we looked, HP was selling a few models with Win 7 still.

        I like the Windows 8.1 better, as it doesn’t start on the apps screen and has something more like a start button, but it’s still not as intuitive as I’d like.

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  4. Pure cloud storage means if your internet goes down you can’t get to your stuff, which disqualifies Chromebooks all on their own for me. My understanding is that they’re meant to be mobile web stations and possibly capable of light document editing and not much more; it sounds like you’re looking for something more robust even if you don’t want to game on it. I’m typing this on my Macbook, so you probably know which way I’d land on this. 🙂

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    • LOL, yes. I’m hearing exactly what I suspected about the Chromebooks. I’m thinking they’re not sufficient. Loading the Tweetdeck with 12 or more lists and having it run smoothly is very important for me, long-term, and I’m afraid that would be a real stress-test for one of those. And pure cloud storage is not an option. In addition to the access problem, it sets you up to either have to upgrade every two years to renew your storage plan, or pay for the storage like a utility bill once the original contract runs out.

      and even though I don’t do a lot of real graphic arts, being able to run a real photo editor is important. Photoblogging is a big part of my game, and one of the reasons my photos are so popular is that I know how to crop them and optimize them so they don’t slow down my page loading.

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  5. I suggest a mac as I’m using one from the past 7 years,recently bought a desktop too.Apple has amazing quality and features that androids don’t have and plus it’s virus free:)you can go in for the 1 terabyte desktop or even iPad mini 64gb is too good.Do keep us informed when you make your choice.

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    • Thanks! I can’t really do a pad, at least not for this purchase. Large display, good keyboard, and mouse are absolutely essential to the work I do. I’d love to have an iPad, though. And I think you’re right about the desktop. I looked at some not long ago,and absolutely loved them.

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      • I bought a 19 inch apple desktop with a trackpad in feb this year and I’m really happy with the result.Its for 99000 indian money and if you can give them any student ID card they wave off 6% and plus some offers keep going on.Its a great pleasure to work on apple,I would strongly advice you to stretch a lil and go for it.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I am just going to tag along here and listen to everything everyone says. I have just decided there is no way I will survive the summer (with trips to the Midwest and West Coast, as well as the usual running all over town with my kids) without a laptop of some sort. I can’t possibly continue to keep up with everything on a pad of paper and a smart phone for much longer (though I love to write 1st drafts on paper!) Thinking that whatever I get will need to support Scrivener as well as Excel (I cannot live without my spreadsheets) and a lot of social media. Research time!

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  7. I hate to echo the Mac chorus, but Holly and I love ours. We have the whole Mac ecosystem at this point, though. iPhones, iPads, Apple TV, iMac for her and MacBook Pro for me. They all work really well together. We do most of our blogging on our iPads, on Pages, and it syncs right up to our main computer for posting. iPhone for Social Media. Apple TV for consuming all of our media… But we built this up over years, because as you said, they’re so expensive.

    Also, I HATE Windows 8.

    (HATE)

    Anyway, if you are currently working with mostly Windows, I would say keeping in that vein has its advantages these days. So thinking about a Surface for a tablet, rather than an iPad. And I do still see places selling Windows 7 machines, so that’s a way better option than 8…

    And then Google has its own ecosystem as well. And their software (Google Docs, etc.) is online, so they built their machines for the Internet alone. Makes sense, but yeah, hard sell.

    Read an article about Library use for the Chromebox/Chromebook: those catalog-only sorts of computers, with limited access to a few library websites and nothing else. Cheap, easy. Sounded like a great use for them. Tied into the whole Chromebooks for Education, as well – limited stuff a student can do with them, cheap, replaceable.

    If your eventual plan is to sink some good money into a good machine (iMac 27 inch?) then picking up a cheaper machine for now might be a great bet. So a Chromebook looks good for that. Or maybe, set up your current, ailing laptop as a desktop of sorts – and get a tablet! Good display, good with music, video, and photos. Good for writing (with a keyboard), and for Social Media. Though, tougher on multitasking.

    I feel like I was officially no help, but having written this much, I’m going to click post!

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