Chromebooks – working in the Clouds

Starting to write this article felt like I was part of an intervention or about to "come out of a closet" but it's time to stand up and make a declaration. My name is Richard Morrell and I am a Chromebook user. There. Said it, now you can all ponder why this is even news worthy but I can safely say that I've just rolled over to month eight of using Chromebooks having totally pooh pooh'd the concept for a very long time and having even had a Samsung model and sent it back in 2012 as a "novelty niche product that wouldn't catch on".

In November I bought an Acer C720 to try as a spare lightweight laptop in the house, purely for browsing and watching Netflix as I presumed, wrongly, that was all they were good for. I had used Google Docs before on a Linux laptop in Chrome but I'd never used it as anything other than a convenient shareable text editor. The onset of having 100GB of storage on Drive free with the Acer meant that I had plenty of space to share documents and quickly I replaced using my personally owned Linux laptops and both of my MacBook Pro for this new plastic lightweight upstart.  I actually stopped using Linux in anger for the first time in over a decade for mainstream computer usage. Very soon I was hooked. I was working faster than I'd ever worked before, my document creation was massively up, I was able to multitask and do more than I'd ever done before - in a browser.

Even podcast creation and video editing, image creation and manipulation, all of these tasks normally software driven I was able to produce on a Linux laptop. Using Soundation, Pixlr and WeVideo within a browser I was able to work faster, quicker and actually more in a more stable fashion than using Audacity (which crashes so damn much on Linux), Gimp (processor hungry) and the unstable 1.4 release of OpenShot for video manipulation on the Linux box.

Now bare in mind my main personal Linux laptop has 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and an i7 chip, and I'm replacing it with a $199 Acer C720 that has lower build quality but weighs nothing and boots in a heartbeat. My own machine having a three hour battery life (with TPM running) the Acer hits nine hours without missing a beat.

In fact I was so impressed I bought a caseload of the Acer machines and gave them away to friends and family who have taken to them with ease and enthusiasm. In fact some of those folk are less than tech savvy and if you asked them now would they move back to Windows over their Chromebook and I think the language would be somewhat blue.

Then HP released their 14" Chromebooks globally. Being HP they couldn't market it very well, not sure if that wasn't to annoy Microsoft or just because they're HP. In a range of gaudy colours I plumbed for the MacBook lookalike silver with the 4GB of RAM and the SSD. That machine since Christmas has become my daily slave. I regularly get 10 hours of battery life out of it, it's the goto machine of choice for almost every Red Hat task. I cannot now imagine a day when I don't simply open my screen and login to my life.

ChromeOS and Chromebooks have had their share of criticism but I'm one power user with two AirPrint / ePrint capable lasers in the office that is a convert to the life they allow you to have as a writer or a parent.

Now I truly work in the cloud.