Articles like this annoy me.
The author has gone into the Chromebook environment thinking that he:
- Lives in an entirely online environment.
- Expects the Chromebook to perform as a complete laptop replacement.
Both these assumptions are wrong – the first because he uses Dropbox and thinks that makes him “in the cloud” and secondly that a Chromebook is a direct replacement for a Macbook – in my instance it was, but I actually did some research before getting one on what I was getting into and took a week of messing on and off with the ones in my local PC World.
In defence of the Chromebook, I thought I’d address some of the points he raises. After all, the Chromebook is a decent bit of technology if you don’t go in expecting it to work as you’re used to.
The author states that it’s hard to find items within the Chrome Store – I’ll give him that. For a search giant, the store is fairly poorly laid out and results are often sorted by popularity, rather than by relevance.
However, some investigation reveals decent apps in a range of different areas. Maybe if the author shared what he was after, people could offer some advice. For example, it took me a while to find, but I found the excellent Text for editing simple text (Markdown, LaTeX and other similar files) that I needed to.
Alternatively, use a web app. Point 1 of the authors article states that he’s always online and has all of his data online. Why then couldn’t he use a service such as Neutron Drive, Writebox or similar service? Both plug into cloud services (Google Drive and Dropbox respectively). Neutron Drive integrates nicely into ChromeOS as well and lets you open files directly in the browser.
Most people are using Dropbox to at least sync data across different devices and he goes in expecting that he can do the same on the Chromebook. No. Not possible. Never has been and never likely. You want to edit files online in Dropbox? Petition Dropbox to add file editing (like Google Drive…) or switch to a service that does allow editing of files on the server (like Google Drive).
The author states:
I wasn’t able to unpack zipped folders, view images, or edit/view documents downloaded from Dropbox.
Now, owning a Chromebook and using Dropbox, I’ve not come across this issue. Zip files are downloaded (and open able) in Chrome OS, as are JPEG’s. I’m not entirely sure how the author was struggling to open these but the default programs (or apps…) worked fine.
He also goes on to moan about the file browser not comparing to Google Drive options. Thats because you’re being pushed to use Google Drive and therefore should use the browser. The local storage isn’t really there to be used as the main file browser (it seems to me). However, it’s passable and does what you need to if you use local files or USB drives like I go. And if he doesn’t think
he’s being pushed to Google Drive, why didn’t he question that fact that Google give two years of 100GB storage when you buy a device? (Or 1TB in his case as he bought a Pixel…) That to me indicates a massive incentive to move from Dropbox… And yes, of course Google are trying to get you to move – why else do you think that Google integrated Drive and Documents together (and Google Documents take up none of your space in your drive). To not think that Google are trying to draw you in, you’re missing the point.
Besides, Google Drive is a decent replacement for Dropbox – the sync program for Windows and Mac replicates the functions of Dropbox perfectly. It’s make sense to move to GDrive when you have a Chromebook.
Extensions and Apps
I think the author has seemed to have missed the point (and the difference) between extensions and apps. Chrome offers both through it’s webstore (admittedly, they don’t make it clear on the differences between the two). However, from what I can tell – extensions plug into the browser and will not appear in the Chromebook “start menu” as they’re extensions to the browser itself. Apps, on the other hand, will show up in the “start menu” as they’re separate extensions that run separately to the browser.
It’s true that the Chromebook wont edit MS Office documents at the minute. This is a pain but is partly due to the closed nature of the device. If you need to edit Office documents, then a Chromebook isn’t likely to be for you.
Overall, I can’t help but feel the author missed the point completely in regards to the Chromebook.
I question the need to go for the Pixel if you were testing ChromeOS. I’m not entirely sure at the poor performance, especially considering my ARM based Chromebook performs fine?
For someone that does almost all his writing in plain text, a Chromebook offers no significant disadvantages over a normal laptop. For someone treating it as a laptop replacement for a Windows or Mac is going to find a lot to be disappointed in.
Simple rule – Chromebook != Windows laptop.
Maybe some prior research to buying the laptop would have saved him some issues…