Friday, March 27, 2015

HP Chromebook 14 Review, First Impressions.

I'm 44 years old and got a late start in computers. While I'm familiar with the TRS-80 and the Apple 2 machines, as well as the Tandy 1000, it wasn't until 2000 when we got our first Windows machine, an HP with Windows Me (Millennium Edition) that my wife and I started to use the computer. The machine was so slow it was practically nonfunctional. I ended up relegating this paperweight to the dumpster and purchasing one with Windows xp, a much better operating system that we used for years. Vista came along, and this one was a bit taxing on low end computers. When Windows Seven replaced this, it was as functional as xp with some of the taxing features turned off. For those who can still get it on a computer, it's a helluva system. My wife and son now use Windows 8, which is better suited for tablets, but is also used for desktops and laptops alike. Both have no issue with it, but I found it very counter-intuitive and complicated to use. Trying to do something that would have taken me a few minutes on xp or Seven would take me ten or fifteen minutes on 8. Thus printing my work schedule, tax forms, trying to maintain the software or fix a problem became an ordeal. 

My old HP Windows Seven machine began having battery problems, as well as overheating to the point that my cords were hot to the touch. The system would start to freeze up and seemed to update constantly, rendering the computer useless at the most inopportune times. A replacement battery cured the problem for a week, but then the system would heat up and the battery would fail to charge. Even with the battery removed, the computer would overheat with the fan going full force. I tried cleaning, software updating and removing and re-installing, recovery and more cleaning. The computer overheated until I finally had to shut it down. Windows 8 was looking like a possibility as macs were out of the question due to their astronomical price. Yes, spending two weeks pay on a computer is astronomical. 

I looked at HP's, Dells, Toshibas and an Asus with Windows 8 with the cheapest being about $250. all were going to have battery issues within a year, were going to be the same frustrating Windows 8 home basic that was going to switch from charms to desktop to blue screen in a second with the a swipe of a finger. The same swipe that was trying to start a movie or write a blog post. 

For quite a while, I've eyed Chromebooks, but the idea of not having a hard drive was anathema to me. There was also the angst over having everything web based and in a cloud. However, I've used Gmail since its inception in 2004, and have used Blogger since 2009 and Youtube longer than Google has had it. In addition, I've also used Chrome since 2008 and it has been the best browser bar none. While Internet Explorer could barely cough and sputter even in its native operating system, Chrome worked with nary a hiccup. After taking with some people at Office Max, I decided to try this system and have not even plugged it in since I got it home four hours ago. As this was a display model, the battery was fully charged. This was a huge problem with the Windows machines. 

The screen is smaller compared to these, but adjusting the zoom a bit has compensated for this. The resolution is very sharp and rivals even my iPhone. Sound from the built in speakers is pretty tame, but unless you need them at concert hall pitch should be more than adequate. The keyboard is reminiscent of my old Macbook in both form and function. It's more than big enough for average sized mitts, and the mouse pad is nothing in appearance to the Windows laptops. The truth is that it is works BETTER. You can swipe, click, right click and scroll with simple hand gestures. With a simple tutorial, you are up and running in minutes, not hours. I literally typed in my network key and signed in, and everything populated from my Google account. All my favorites, web pages, and accounts were there. 

As for storage this computer (more accurately called a thin client) is 100 Gigabytes in the cloud. There are plenty of USB ports to hoop up accessories and hopefully a hard drive. Allegedly, it also works with my printer and this is something to test out at a later time. Thus far, it's worth what I paid for it and it's really simple to use. So much the better. Maranatha!   


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