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Put Chromebooks in proper context: This is not a joke

Paul Thurrott called Chromebooks a joke. Andy Wolber begs to differ and suggests there's a broader context to consider.

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Paul Thurrott posted a piece recently titled "Assessing the Chromebook Threat to Windows". His subtitle conveys the attitude of the article, "Chromebooks are a joke, but they benefit from good timing".

And, from a certain perspective, I can see his point.

In a world of installed software, a Chromebook is a joke. You can't install (many) programs on it. The vast library of Windows and Mac software doesn't work on a Chromebook. No Microsoft Office. No Skype. No Photoshop.

But you could view the Chromebook from an entirely different perspective: that of someone whose applications and data exist entirely in the cloud.

Thin for the win

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Chromebook can be thought of as a "thin client". You authenticate to Google's servers and access everything from there. Except that "everything" actually means anything online.

In a world of software-as-a-service, a Chromebook provides a great value. Turn it on, login, and you're online. The time-to-task is minimal.

A Chromebook represent a "web-first" perspective on computing. A Chromebook presumes that the network really is the computer, as the old Sun Microsystems phrase suggested.

Chromebook users do lose some things, of course.

Chromebooks burden the user with as few system administrator-type tasks as possible. Connect to WiFi. Reboot every now and then to ensure you have the latest updates. That's it. Time spent updating apps, devices, and drivers is gone. For people who would rather not fiddle with system maintenance tasks, that's a good thing to lose.

More significantly, Chromebooks, unlike Windows or Mac devices, aren't intended to be general purpose computing devices, in the classic sense of a computer that may be adapted by the user for any purpose. Chromebooks aren't designed to allow users to write and compile code that then runs on the device. In that sense, Chromebooks are similar to iPads and Android tablets: they're systems designed for users, not computer hobbyists. For most people, that's also a good thing.

(Tech tinkerers persist, though. There are plenty of folks that dual-boot Linux and Chrome OS on Chromebooks. And there are cloud-based development environments, such as Cloud9.)

Bridging the gap

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Dragonbridge
 Finally, you might even think of the Chromebook as a gap-bridging device. A Chromebook bridges the gap not from desktop to mobile, but the other way 'round. It's a great device for someone who is "mobile first" that would benefit from using a keyboard and larger screen.

As users and organizations move applications and data to the web, Chromebooks become more attractive. The user just needs a Chromebook and Internet access: processing power and storage exist elsewhere.

I agree with Thurrott. It would be a joke to replace a Windows system with a Chromebook. If a user needs installed Windows apps, a Chromebook is the wrong tool.

But Windows devices and Chromebooks solve different problems.

The issue isn't the device. The issue, instead, is whether a user's needs can be met with web applications and services. If so, then it also would be a joke to replace a Chromebook with a Windows system.

Google and Chromebook manufacturers are betting that the web will be enough for many users. That's not a joke. That's a market. And I think many people believe that's where the world is heading.


Also read:

About

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

63 comments
andyawalsh
andyawalsh

I personally just run my chromebook like i would any other computer. i just run it in devoleper mode and use a 500gb external hard drive and i can download torrents, write code, do basic hacking, create documents, and browse the web. anyone relatively tech savvy can use a chromebook just like anything else, idiots should quit putting it down. The chromebook is a beast and should be treated and respected like one.

bboyes
bboyes

What do you do if the only browser available on Chrome OS is broken? Say, oh, for example, sliders were broken. That would be a pain, wouldn't it? This is the situation for at least the last several weeks with the Chrome browser. Why it has not yet been fixed I don't know. But it makes navigating many common sites hard. Also instructure Canvas no longer renders properly in Chrome, which means I can't see or grade assignments from some of my students. These are both widely-reported bugs. On a PC, I can switch to Firefox. On a Chromebook, I am stuck in a way that makes the otherwise-nice hardware useless. I was ready to jump into a Chromebook as my teaching computer but not anymore. 


If Google is going to hold ChromeOS users hostage they have to treat us really well! They must have really high standards for their sole-supplier software, especially the browser. If it is broken, the best cloud services in the world are useless.

indianinworld
indianinworld

This is all proper bull shits.


Life was much better without these stuffs (be it windows or mac or google).


They just keep on lobbying with their contacts to promote stuffs that are nothing less than junk. Just curious, why do schools and colleges need a chromebook ?


Are they not paying fees to get a degree ? Or in schools if this is offered (as touted as zero maintenance for chromebook), we all know what the kids and teenagers will do with it. And i dont have to say about the western way of school going kids and their way of growth especially if they are going to free school.


It is all complete bullocks and this world is like this because of 3 things - 


Contracts - Agents - Lobbies. If we abolish these 3, iam sure none of these products or markets will thrive even if google does a branding investing billions into it, it will all be into garbage.

Cmd_Line_Dino
Cmd_Line_Dino

Chromebooks are to Windows computers

as

Windows computers are to all variants of Unix computers.

For both the arguments are/were "this  'newer'  will never succeed because the  'older'  can just do soo much more"

In each case, for the beginning user, the 'newer' choice does everything they want, costs less and is easier to setup and maintain.

Are there things that a Chromebook can't do now?   Sure there are.

Will good solutions be found?  Of course they will.

Will Chromebooks become preeminent?  Perhaps, seems possible,

and yet something else may happen.

What if Windows became completely self-maintaining and self-recovering from failure/malware etc?

Gisabun
Gisabun

Hmmm. Compare a Chromebook versus an Android tablet.

Price range - very close.

Size - Advantage tablet.

Usability - Android has hundreds of thousands of applications some don't require the Internet. Chromebook? Errrr.

Requirements - Android tablets will work with "offline" applications. Chromebook requires the Internet for 99% of applications that are available.

Chromebooks failed in the previous incarnation as Chromeboxes. So what is the difference? Nothing.

Red_One
Red_One

I am an IT director at a k-12 school district. We rolled out 160 chromebooks to our high school in August. It's been an eye opener. They are just wonderful for this purpose. We have been on the GAFE (Google Apps For Education) since last school year so that helped.
 We tried a 1:1 initiative in one grade level with Windows PCs. Took a day out of my week for ONE grade level.
In comparison I have not touched the Chromebooks. They just work!

We have Citrix for the people that need Windows apps.

Becca Alice
Becca Alice

One set of people to benefit are our students.  College costs have been soaring and part of that has been the infrastructure needed to build and maintain support for an immense network backbone not only for administrative use but for student use as well.  I've got a ton of students who would be happy not to have to buy a vastly more expensive machine when all they intend to do is write papers, surf the web (research!), and maybe do an occasional graph.  It also directs the burden of support for those applications to the companies making money off the devices and applications.  I know some desktop guys who would be relieved if certain faculty could only use their work computer for work.  People who tend to use systems for a wide array of software and for network administration tend to forget that there are a ton of people out there who would be happy with a browser, music player, and email client which also lets them type notes.  Storage of credentials online is definitely an issue, even more dangerous because the average user tends to trust the average large company to keep their data safe, despite recent news events to the contrary.  Users will regard that trust as part of the purchase price.

ottowj
ottowj

As an IT professional I have access to every device from the iPad to Windows8 and the Chromebook has become my device of choice.  In most ways Chromebooks are much less than a laptop but in other ways they are a whole lot more.  When you unhinge your mind from the Microsoft way of doing things you can see the light.  

In my world (education) the management console is an added bonus creating a virtual desktop-like experience.  There is good reason that schools are buying these by the thousands.

M Wagner
M Wagner

I agree with much of what the author is saying - especially about "bridging the gap" between tablet and laptop.  The problem is that, while it can do everything a tablet can do, but with a larger screen and a keyboard, it cannot leverage the wealth of existing software available from other sources.  In short, the ChromeBook implements a "walled garden" far beyond even Apple's ecosystem. 

Don't get me wrong, I know people who are barely computer literate which could benefit greatly from a device with a keyboard and screen larger than 11 inches.  Unfortunately, with a ChromeBook, they are very much tied to one vendor - Google.

boucaria
boucaria

Chrome books are not, at least for some time, going to make it into the business world. The so-called BYOD trend would not allow it into the enterprise. However the biggest issue is the chrome book as a browser; the majority of users who at least have a passing acquaintance with security use an ID and password to login to sites to get  access, so you either use the cloud to store your logon details (eminently hackable) or use a USB drive in certain configurations that could store encrypted info with such programs as KEYPASS but the biggest drawback is that you need an Internet connection. In the south, with very spotty Internet services, and power availability that at best is awful, you can see your local Internet connection either brownout, or black out for extensive periods. It seems far better to get a laptop with a portable power supply that has a large hard drive, both for work as well as entertainment, rather than the thin client fiasco that was so trendy in the late 90s; Windows CE indeed, and I used admin large data centres in another country at the time. The US needs to build (not just rebuild) the digital infrastructure to cope with computers all sorts. 

bc3tech
bc3tech

Everybody calls out netbooks as having been a fad, they were a joke, they failed, etc. I fail to see anything that a Chromebook does better/differently than Netbooks did. In fact most Netbooks at the time *could* install software locally... So I really don't get the fascination for Google's version of a netbook vs the netbooks we had 4 years ago.

cquirke
cquirke

At best, perhaps Chromebooks are to Tablets what Netbooks were to Laptops; sort-of as-good but cheaper - until the price gap closes them down.

Without pervasive and affordable Internet access, they are useless. 

Also, you may still not yet want to "live in the cloud", which is the disbelief you have to suspend in order to buy into the Chromebook concept.

parthur169
parthur169

I happily replaced my tablets with my Chromebook. No more smearing, poking, and trying to type on glass or lugging a keyboard. 

parthur169
parthur169

As a 35 year I/T veteran, I replaced my Windows, Apple, and Android devices with my Chromebook - best I/T solution in over 10 years. No more antivirus hogging up the entire machine. Windows is dying from malware protection software, and that trend is accelerating. I have a windows server for running Sibelious software, which I access from my Chromebook. I expect Sibelious to offer a cloud based solution, which will allow me junk my Windows server. Bye, bye Microsoft. 

minstrelmike
minstrelmike

Chromebooks just look like a laptop (a real computer) but they are essentially a tablet with a keyboard, a smartphone with a large screen. Tablets and smart phones have a huge market and no one can install Word on those either.

I try to push them onto people who really don't need the Office suite. But I've changed my mind about Windows 8 --the dual-op/sys because many folks want a tablet but need (mostly want) to have a laptop with Office and a few other installed programs.

The Surface, at $450, is both a tablet and laptop with keyboard and Office suite installed. If you really can't get by with just a tablet or just the Chromebook, that's the next best option.

But imo there is definitely a Chromebook market out there.

More interestingly, Microsoft might be in a position to steal it.

gcoates
gcoates

Paul Thurrott is a man with no imagination.  There are countless uses for a Chromebook.  Especially, having a system for users who only want to browse the web.  I've seen library systems use computers for their Internet access devices when they could use a device like this and save themselves countless dollars in hardware and administrative costs.  There are users who use the Chromebook to connect to their office desktops and run their Windows applications there.  Why do I need Windows app on my telework device when I connect to my beefy desktop and run the applications there.

rcameron1 and zazizou stated it best.  There are lots of niche uses for the device now and they will only grow, especially with users placing more and more applications in the cloud for you to access and use via browser or an app.

andrew
andrew

To be honest, I stopped listening to Paul Thurrott a long time ago.

zazizou
zazizou

Chromebooks are actually the way to go - with RDP, virtual desktops etc you can have Windows installed in the cloud/vdi and access them... it's as good as running them locally, if not better. It's also diskless, this means no need for any encryption on any drives (which slows down your laptop a lot if u run Windows or Mac). The only downside is if you travel to less connected countries without 4G or 3G. I would say it's great for most people living or travelling in urbanized areas, but probably not so great for some (e.g environmental scientist working in the deep jungles of Borneo - lol ). 

timwessels
timwessels

Well, I've used an Acer AC700 Chromebook for over two years as my sofa and out-the-door go-to computer.  It works fine...although the keyboard could be better.  It is secure.  It updates itself without annoying me.  It shuts down and boots in 10 seconds or less.  If you like using Google Apps and related services it is a no-brainer for the price and I'm not talking about the Google Pixel Chromebook.  The next generation Chromebooks will be based on the Intel Haswell chipset, so look for more CPU power and longer batter life.  All of the major laptop manufacturers are building Chromebooks, including Acer, Samsung, HP, Lenovo, Asus and Toshiba.  The so-called experts who trashed the Chromebook concept two years ago should be prepared to to eat their own words this Thanksgiving.

jirving
jirving

A ChromeBook is lightweight, low hassle, low price, and high security. Not surprisingly, it works great with Google Apps. I'm an IT pro who uses Windows systems, but I don't need to carry one around with me; there's a very nice Chrome RDP client, so Windows runs elsewhere for me now -- Windows has become one of the services I only access in the "cloud" (loosely defined to include servers on our company network). Windows will increasingly run only on multi-user or virtual servers where all the ridiculous OS and program updates can be done once for multiple users.

LS650
LS650

I use my Chromebook every day and find it serves the same function as a tablet - but with a keyboard and trackpad instead of a touchscreen.  It's very useful when I need to type more than a couple of sentences.

Maybe it's Paul Thurrott who is the joke..?

adpirtle
adpirtle

When I read Paul Thurrott's article I just had to shake my head. The guy seemed to have no idea what he was writing about. His whole angle seemed to be that Chromebooks are a joke because they aren't going to be able to do everything a Windows PC or Apple Mac can do, and therefore they aren't serious competition for those companies. He's missing two points.

The first point he's missing is that the things chromebooks don't do that PC's do are things many users don't want or need to do. They don't want to install large, specialized, native applications. They just want to get online so they can browse the internet, watch netflix, use social media, email, shop, etc... Many folks also need some word processing and photo editing ability, but they don't need Microsoft Office or Photoshop, and all those programs' special features remain entirely untouched. For people like this, a chromebook is perfect, since it comes with everything they want and need, and absolutely nothing they don't, and is incredibly simple to use and maintain.

The second point that he's missing is that chromebooks aren't really competing with software or hardware companies like Microsoft and Apple. Google is an advertising company. They don't give a flying fig if you're using the internet on a chromebook or a PC or a Mac or an iPad or an android tablet or a smartphone or whatever. They just care that you're using it so they can sell more adverts. 

So they're not trying to corner the laptop market. They're just trying to saturate it. That means getting people who have money to waste, including people who aren't very computer savvy, to pick up a second device that enables them to get online easily and comfortably anywhere, so that they are online more often. It also means getting people who don't have money to waste to buy a laptop for the first time or replace a broken device more quickly. It's all about getting everyone online as often as possible, not taking over the computer market. 

Thurrott's myopic view where cloud computing is concerned aside, he's seeing a threat where there was never intended to be one, and then he's knocking it down like a self-erected straw man.

TonyCl
TonyCl

I live in the UK (that's Britain not the University of Kentucky) which appears from some comments here to be particularly well-served with free wifi compared to the US through BT (British Telecom) hubs (free to BT home broadband subscribers) and banks, supermarkets, coffee shops, libraries, golf clubs, department stores, universities,schools ... 

Maybe this explains why US respondents go on on and on about chromebooks only working when wifi is available. For me it's difficult to go anywhere where there is no access to wifi.

I carry my samsung chromebook 5 with me everywhere and it is just fantastic - extremely portable, no hard disc to cause noise and get clogged with cumbersome windows and security packages, superb access to any website anywhere ( zero security problems accessing open wifi) and everything stored in the google cloud allowing easy data sharing. Together with the low cost ( $200 in US currency) and no ongoing costs it's just an amazing deal. It acts as an excellent PC, tablet , kindle reader, incredibly cheap mobile phone ( using the gmail phone), allows easy video conferencing  , streams perfectly hi-def netflix films - I love Breaking Bad). What's not to like?  I've seen comments about google and government access but governments have access to anything transmitted - not just google, thats life in 2013.


What baffles me is why individuals persist in purchasing expensive devices with substantial ongoing costs when far more  efficient low-cost well made chromebooks are available. Someone here mentioned fools and their money being easily parted. Just who are the fools?


razyb
razyb

It's a nice device but I know someone that recently bought a Chromebook but found out it was incompatible with the Citrix receiver he uses to access his remote desktop.

He returned it for a bulkier (but half the price) Windows laptop which worked with no problems.

rcameron1
rcameron1

I still view Chromebooks as a bridge product.  At the moment they still have a good niche (low maintenance, low cost, medium mobile and fully cloud circumstances).  However, I question what a Chromebook can do that a tablet cannot with a good keyboard or dock?  Tablet systems still seem to be evolving and in fact are taking a frustratingly long time to mature.  Yet, with a good tablet you have:

1. Cloud access through WiFi and with some through a cell connection or a smartphone you are probably already carrying.

2. With a good keyboard, the ability to produce content (not just consume content).

3. Install applications locally (unlike a Chromebook but more like a typical PC).

4. Ultra mobile i.e. choose your flavour - just bring the touchscreen for consumption/display reasons or bring the keyboard along if you need to produce content

5. The latest tablets are fast and come with ultra-high display resolutions.

6. Local storage if desirable (and it often is)

7. Fast On-to task times. 

8. Long battery life.

9. RDP and some network access capabilities usually driven through Apps

RobertMoore12
RobertMoore12

This would really be useless to most people at best. It can only be used where there is internet so hence why waste your money.

Another note-what planet is this author on? I can't say anything about Ipads but Android tablets can be used to program apps and do anything a laptop can do. They just take less space and weigh a lot less.

adornoe
adornoe

The Chromebook has a place...

nowhere!!!

It's just a browser dressed in Sunday clothes.  The Sunday clothes cost somewhere between $200 and $250, but within those clothes, you still end up with just a browser, and everybody on the planet already know that browsers are all free.  

A fool and his money are soon parted, and that's such a shame that people are being sold something that just isn't necessary.  Even a 10 year old PC can work with most browsers, and that PC can still do a whole lot more than the empty suit that is the Chromebook. 




Carney3
Carney3

@Gisabun"Chromebooks failed in the previous incarnation as Chromeboxes."  Wrong.  ChromeBoxes came along after ChromeBooks had been around for quite some time.  And ChromeBooks are selling very well, gobbling up a huge portion of PC marketshare, especially the sub-$500 market.


Nobody in the real world is greatly concerned with offline functionality, because the Internet has become so important that ordinary PCs would be frustratingly limited by an outage as well.  Who buys a computer with the intention of being offline and only launching Word and Photoshop for his own use, while not emailing the results to anyone else?  Even the biggest tablets have smaller screens than the smallest ChromeBooks and are not meant for serious content creation, even with a little Bluetooth keyboard.

Mah
Mah

@Red_One 

Chromebooks are Zero Maintenance, Zero Touch Administration devices - your experiences sound about right.

Windows PCs are generally too cumbersome and too maintenance heavy for 1:1 deployments.

TonyCl
TonyCl

@M Wagner I'm puzzled by the word vendor. I bought my chromebook from samsung. The only thing I've ever bought from google directly is £10' s- worth of gmail phone calls. I use mainly Outlook for emails ( although gmail is free) with no problems and much other software which I don't have to download. It's just the downloading bit that is presently the problem but as it becomes apparent that the cloud is the future more and more software will be based there  - hasn't Windows moved in this direction ( I don't use it so I'm not certain)?. Getting the cloud concept of computing and communication going is clearly an ongoing project but its so obviously the way to go.

M Wagner
M Wagner

@boucaria ChromeBooks are not suited for business - for many reasons.  So what?  The model has a great deal of potential - it is too bad that the ChromeBook is not compatible with Android though. 

Mah
Mah

@bc3tech 

Netbooks were slow, Chromebooks are fast. Netbooks didn't reduce the maintenance and troubleshooting burden on the user - underneath they were still the same Windows crud that people are shying away from now with perpetually declining sales, just very cheap, very slow, and extra crappy. Chromebooks on the other hand give you a much better battery life,  build quality, performance, zero maintenance, and ease of use, aimed at the 95% use case market.   


ThePickle
ThePickle

@parthur169 I cringe at the thought of what kind of "I/T veteran" you are.
The fact that you can openly make such an asinine claim that you've replaced Windows, Apple, and Android with a Chromebook - simply speaks volumes as to what a clueless dolt you are (and probably always have been).

TonyCl
TonyCl

@gcoates Your suggestion of the use of Chromebooks in libraries looks to me to be a very good one.  Many kids just sit there playing shooting games on PCs provided at the moment. I'm sure this is very enjoyable and at least attracts them into libraries but, playing the killjoy, I do suspect that they never move away from the PC. Apart from their ease of use and low cost one thing Chromebooks can't have is a range of fantastic realistic war games. Their use in libraries may mean that the games users just walk away. It would mean though that the remaining users wouldn't face so much competition for their use as educational and utility tools - presumably why PCs were installed in libraries in the first place. It would also mean that others who are presently put off by all the instructions they heed to get started with windows machines would benefit from the many advantages of being able to access the web immediately. It'll be interesting to see how our local village librarian reacts to the idea - I suspect she's never heard of chromebooks.

M Wagner
M Wagner

@gcoates Well, not really.  Paul is looking at it from a business perspective - and from there he is correct.  If you are a consumer and all you need is e-mail, a browser, a basic word processor and a spreadsheet - the ChromeBook fits the bill.  As long as you don't mind living in Google's "walled garden".

Mah
Mah

@adpirtle 

Like other Microsofties entrenched in the monopoly mentality, Thurrock sees any competition as a threat. I think in a way he is right though - Chromebooks are a threat to Microsoft's monopoly, and all of us consumers - Windows users or not, stand to benefit from that competition. What remains to be seen is whether Microsoft is able to prosper in a competitive environment.

Mah
Mah

@rcameron1 

Well, you can do anything you can do on a computer with a pencil and a piece of paper, including calculate pi to 50 decimal places, and the pencil and paper is also more flexible. The reason people use computers is because they are quicker and easier, and you do not need to learn the mathematics behind Taylor series approximations in order to calculate pi. 

So it is is for Chromebooks - they are quicker and easier to use than Windows machines, and don't require learning of system maintenance and configuration, updates and troubleshooting of OS, apps, and hardware drivers. They are a little less flexible - you may not be able to run that obscure Christmas card design app that you can run on Windows, or that you can do with a crayon and paper, but still well worthwhile for its ease of use and convenience if it meets your needs. 

adpirtle
adpirtle

rcameron1 Two things. 


First, it has a full browser, not a limited, mobile version. That means using extensions, opening multiple browser windows side-by-side for better multitasking abilities, and simply having the actual web easily available instead of the "mobile" web. 


Second, it's considerably cheaper than a tablet with a similar screen size plus a keyboard and mouse. My chromebook and my Nexus 7 cost about the same amount, and it's my go-to mobile computing device for day to day use, but when I'm home or at a hotel and I'm wanting to watch a video or browse the web, I prefer to do so on a larger screen. The Nexus 10, which has the same processing power as my chromebook (and sitll a slightly smaller screen) starts at $120 more than my chromebook, and that's before purchasing a decent keyboard. My HP chromebook 11 comes with a terrific keyboard attached, which is also nicer than bothering with attaching one to my tablet and trying to use that on my lap. 

rcameron1
rcameron1

The only major drawback with the tablet/keyboard/dock combo is that often the cost is higher than a Chromebook.  Which brings me back to it being a bridge product.  As tablets continue to drive costs down, why not take full advantage of the above benefits compared with a Chromebook.  In theory, Chromebook prices should also go down but I suspect there should be a consumer tipping point somewhere along the line where the spectrum shortens (the line between PC, Chromebook and Tablet or even Smartphone continues to blur).

So for now, I agree, Chromebooks currently fill a niche nicely that is not served by standard PC's or by Tablets.  Yet, I would guess their days are numbered.

Mah
Mah

@RobertMoore12 

But why waste your time AND money with a high maintenance by buying a high cost, high maintenance Windows computer? A lot of us have better things to do with our time than bother with Windows maintenance chores just to keep the system working.

LS650
LS650

" It can only be used where there is internet so hence why waste your money. "

Much the same could be said about a Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android machine: they lose a lot of functionality when there's no Internet connection.  The latest releases of Chrome OS can play videos and music offline, display e-books, edit documents and email, and play a few games.  For most people, that's all they need.

adpirtle
adpirtle

@RobertMoore12 For a large number of people, a PC is useless without an internet connection, since they only use it for email, browsing, netflix, and other online applications. Android tablets are a fine option as well, albeit a more expensive one if you want a decent sized screen and a keyboard, and they are without a full browser.

LS650
LS650

I've never seen a 10-year old PC that weighed 2.3 pounds and could run for 6+ hours on a single battery charge.

cac1031
cac1031

@adornoe  Nowhere?  Tell that to the rapidly growing number of schools that are adopting Chromebooks as their main technology device for students. They are fast, secure, low-maintenance devices that run a vast array of educational software that is now in the cloud.  Most importantly they are much more affordable to school districts than Windows and Apple devices because, not only do they cost much less to begin with, they require very little IT support.  Their central management features are greatly appreciated by school administrators and teachers.

So, no matter how much the Chromebook naysayers go on and on about their uselessness, it does not change the facts that they are best-selling devices on Amazon and bucking the PC market trend with growing sales.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

@adornoe If everything you need access to is on a server somewhere, why do you need more than the Chromebook?  It's ideal for salesmen who need to collaborate on sales documents and run slide shows for the customers, but can't take a laptop on the road without bringing it back totally knackered from viruses because they click OK on every pop-up they see.

The 3G model is grossly overpriced, so buy a base model and a personal hot spot and send them out with both.  Then charge the retail replacement cost if they come back without either. 

gvtooker
gvtooker

@adornoe Couldn't agree more. I pretty much saw the Chromebook as a tablet computer on steroids, but your analogy works.

The fact is that the CB is VERY limited in what it can do, and doesn't even offer the utility of a smartphone or tablet device. Where I do understand where Google is trying to go with it (interface with the cloud) and its philosophy of use, the concept still has a loooong ways to go towards maturity or even consumer acceptance.

As pointed out, even if the end user doesn't need anything more than a web browser, it still begs the question of why should they limit themselves when any PC or Mac made in the last several years will do that job just fine?

Mah
Mah

@ThePickle @parthur169

I think "asinine" and "clueless" are terms that fit you better than the parent poster, and add "obnoxious" to the list. Windows, OSX/iOS and Android are quite easy to replace with Chromebooks, especially in an enterprise IT world in which everything is server based, as is the trend. In fact,  the most secure and easiest maintenance way to run a Windows app is to run it on a Windows terminal server on the local LAN accessed by a Chromebook.


SmartAceW0LF
SmartAceW0LF

@M Wagner Come on man, your continued use of the phrase Google's "walled garden" (especially in comparing the limited applications of the ChromeBook to Apples typical policy of locking its products down) is a prejudicial statement in my honest opinion.  Honestly, my purpose here is not to defend Google, Apple and certainly not Microsoft, so hear me out before jumping off the deep end of the flamewar pit.  Any suite of applications including the OS to be used with said applications "in the cloud" intrinsically necessitates that they be "locked down" or operate within a "walled garden" so to speak.  The suggestion of anything to the contrary would be ludicrous. 

Personally, it is my sincere belief that "applications operating from within the cloud entirely"  is the Holy Grail sought after by all of the major players in this industry.  Truth be known, judging from past behavior, one can fairly well rest assured that the advantages of being able to implement such an environment has not been lost on MS.  Indeed, they seem to be aligning their products to achieve just this scenario.  Soon, there is little doubt in my mind that we will all be paying these entities for the licensing of their products relative to time rather than seats.

Given the above is not extremely off target -I don't believe it is- then its time to use a little different perspective in making judgments of today's IT initiatives.  Could very well be that Google already has a significant jump in this realm on its competitors.  So what else is new?  People should probably stop trying to emulate everything Apple does and pay a little more attention to what Google is doing. Internet users today have very little real knowledge of the tremendous benefits in convenience and choice that exist as a direct result of Google offering it first.  The others all follow suit so as not to be left behind in competition.  Ex. I can vividly recall filling my email account beyond its tolerated usage regularly, therein rendering it null.  And while on the subject of the Enterprise and Google, let's consider the ideal benefits of collaboration and the true cost of its realistic and fluent implementation worldwide. i.e. the ability of dozens of people to work within the same document or spreadsheet without conflicting edits and with each users input materializing instantly on every other collaborators screen.  What would it cost to implement such a scenario?  What are the real world limitations of such a notion?  What would the hardware and the associated personnel to install, implement and maintain such run?  Is it even a realistic expectation?

The answers to all of the above are 

Cost = around $50.00 per year per user.

Hardware and Personnel cost = $0.00

Can it be done?  Absolutely

How well does it work?  Fabulously

While I realize that this one scenario comes nowhere near matching the complicated gamut of scenarios within the Enterprise, I feel it safe to say that its implementation in any reasonably functional measure has been a major hurdle in every way to accomplish, not the least of which is financially.  So, it's just used as an example here.

Sorry for getting so wordy.  Can't help it.  I call them as I see them.  Still trying to keep my experience from clouding my vision though.

adornoe
adornoe

@cac1031 @adornoeYes, nowhere.

Schools are not representative of the general user out there, and the general public is staying away from those high-priced browsers.

"Google sold 175,000 units in the 10 weeks of June 30- Sept. 7"


http://www.businessinsider.com/22-percent-us-school-districts-use-chromebooks-2013-10#ixzz2k6wGYAP1

That doesn't look or sound like a device that is popular with anybody, except the Google fanatics and schools districts, which probably get those devices for free or with heavy discounts or with subsidies.  


Those devices don't make sense for anybody, including the schools.  It's another sham, just like the iPad debacle in the San Diego schools system (look up that debacle). 


RobertMoore12
RobertMoore12

@cac1031 @adornoe Where are these schools adopting Chromebooks? EVERY school I know uses Apple products, not Google. Matter of a fact they restrict the use of Google on the Apple products. 

adornoe
adornoe

@NickNielsen @adornoe The problem for Chromebooks still remains.  No matter what SERVER the data resides in, to get at it, a BROWSER is needed.  AND!!!, Browsers are FREE, everywhere, and from all software companies who design and develop them, including Google and Microsoft and Apple and Mozilla and all others.  The only thing anybody is purchasing with a Chromebook is a browser encased in a shiny and great looking shell.  The days of paying for browsers are long gone.  People can get to browsers in mobile devices, and still don't have to pay for a glorified and expensive browser.  

cac1031
cac1031

@RobertMoore12 @cac1031 @adornoe  If you followed this trend as I do, you would see all the news stories about indivdual schools and districts adopting Chromebooks and the positive reactions they are getting.  Yes, iPads  (which have been around for several years longer) are used quite a bit, especially among younger grades, but educators are discovering that with older students, a device like the Chromebook makes more sense for the reasons mentioned above.  According to Google's announced statistics, in the summer of 2012, Chromebooks were in use in 1,000 U.S. schools. In February 2013, that number had doublet to 2,000. And just recently, they announced the figure was 5,000.  Now this refers to schools, not districts,  so they include small privates as well as giant high schools and  it encompasses those with one on one technology and those with just a few used in the library, but the point is the same:  It is a trend growing exponentially precisely because those that have adopted them are very happy with the results.

If you need more evidence, just look at why Acer, Lenovo, HP and have just come out with new models with an eye to targeting the education sector.

rcameron1
rcameron1

I would guess that in our school board they represent 1/3 of computing usage:

a) 1/3 laptops

b) 1/3 tablets (mostly iPad Mini)

c) 1/3 Chromebooks

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

Of course the Chromebook is a glorified browser, but the browser is the main reason people buy any kind of computing device these days.  And most of those people will use whatever browser presents itself when they click on 'the internet'. 

So what's the difference between a $249 Chromebook and a $249 Acer Aspire besides screen size and the fact that Billy Blastoff, Salesman Supreme, can't knacker the Chromebook by downloading everything that asks?

TonyCl
TonyCl

@adornoe @NickNielsen Sure what you say is true.However why would anyone buy a ridiculously expensive smartphone with all its associated ongoing 3g or 4g costs or laptop with all the ongoing windows and security costs when you could use a relatively cheap chromebook with full keyboard and access to so many other functions (word processing,..... ) free using wifi broadband?  With your emphasis on FREE I' d have thought you might appreciate this argument. To summarise - people can get to the superb chrome browser in a mobile chromebook without having to pay for glorified and expensive smartphones and laptops.


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