So I purchased a Samsung Chromebook. This week has been difficult and I have to say this ‘toy’ provided a great distraction. Most features are extremely easy to use and the learning curve on the rest was minimal.
Things I consider a positive about the Samsung Chromebook and Chrome OS:
1. When connected to the internet, it almost feels like a real computer. Chrome OS is not fully responsible for this statement. There are a lot of great sites and 3rd party apps that boost the functionality. I would argue that is a lot better than an iPad and a keyboard. I would not say that the Chromebook I have is a replacement for a tablet.
2. RDP works – so in a pinch I can connect to my desktop.
3. Extra Free 100 gb of Google Drive space is nice. *only for a year
4. You can actually do some programming on it. A lot of the cloud IDE’s are at a stable point for real development (or at least in what I have seen in the last 5 days).
5. User Accounts are easy.
6. Switching to Chrome OS development mode is easy. This switch gives access to a realish shell, ssh and the ability to boot from USB / load Ubuntu. I have not had the chance to try dual booting to Ubuntu. It also feels fun and dangerous.
7. The battery life and weight is great in comparison to a normal laptop with equal functionality.
1. I cannot get Cisco VPN with a group to connect. This negative is huge for me. I cannot use it as a portable replacement without this functionality. I am still looking for a solution and it appears others have the same complaint so hopefully sometime soon there will be a standard solution.
2. Yeah so no internet is no fun. Yeah, yeah Google docs offline and drive in offline mode. Still no fun.
3. E-mail. This point might be debated but I don’t like my mail going through Gmail. The offline client is great for Gmail but the lack of another secure offline (non-web based) email client is another deal breaker.
4. Privacy. Everything wants my permission to record or access something.
5. Minor – but I want to to be able to add websites (since the web is critical to the functionality) to the launcher without having to make a Chrome package. I don’t like taking up more real estate with the bookmark bar. As a temporary solution (another distraction), I made a quick form to build the files needed to make an unpackaged extension (the icon and the manifest.json). Once it is added, I can pin the website to the launcher.
For the price, the Samsung Chromebook is doable. At this point I would not spend more for a Chrome OS system. There are still too many limitations and not enough advantages to make it a competitive player.