This article was first published in November 2014 when I shared my 3-month experience of using Chromebooks here. I am writing this again in early 2017 to give you a further flavour after switching from Windows to Chromebooks more than 2.5 years ago.
It was only bought as a second hand and a casual secondary laptop to try.
An 11.6 inch second-generation HP 11 Chromebook in the summer of 2014.
I only paid £129 for it.
And it changed my whole personal computing style.
Before that, I had used the “Windows” operating system for more than 20 years on various machines and I am not saying this with any exaggeration.
I must say that it was the operating system of my choice for a long time (1994 to 2014) and had served me well. I still remember installing a copy of the Windows 3.1 on my x386 desktop with the help of floppy disks.
Fast forward 23 years.
“When I am writing these lines in January 2017, my friendship with Chromebooks is nearly 2.5 years old. I have used 4 different Chromebooks in this time and eventually switched from Windows to Chromebooks completely during this period.”
The purpose of this article is to be brutal and honest about this switch over.
To tell you the highlights of the story.
If you are thinking about moving over from Windows/Mac to a Chromebook, this story will give you some insights and real-life feedback to make your decision. A story from someone who has tried, tested and explored the Chromebooks as his daily driver for years and ready to share his views with you.
How do I feel after this switch from Windows to Chrome OS?
Do I crave to go back to Windows?
Do I see my love for Chromebooks increasing or decreasing?
Stick around and at the end of this article, you will know the answers to each of these questions. I am sure it will give you a plenty of awareness and feedback if you are thinking of joining the Chromebook group.
A decision that has a potential to change the style of your personal computer usage.
Table of Contents for Quick Navigation
Chromebook is Fast, Responsive and Reliable at a Competitive Cost
For me, performance and reliability are two of the most critical features that I look for in my personal computer.
There is just no compromise for me on these requirements.
I don’t want to be in a situation where if I want to carry out a certain task as a part of my daily computing routine, my machine refuses or struggles to handle that.
I was after a machine which was fast, responsive and had enough oomph under the hood to deal with my PC needs.
From my first ARM based 11.6 inch HP machine to my present Core i3/4GB Dell 13 Chromebook, I have never found the Chromebook to be limiting and restricting. I have always found it to be a capable and reliable workhorse which has never let me down.
In fact, faster and more responsive than I was expecting.
You are effectively dealing with a single interface (your Chrome browser window) most of the times. Chrome browser does not let you down. It is well designed and engineered to act as a stand alone browsing platform in a Chromebook.
“I don’t remember when was the last time my Chromebook crashed on me requiring a reboot. I just don’t miss my “Windows” days any more.”
Obviously, selecting your Chromebook based on your hardware requirements is a key decision you need to make. I am not going to go into the details of what Chromebooks can and can’t do. I am assuming that you are aware of the Chromebook computing model and know about its strengths and limitations already.
As far as the cost is concerned, Chromebooks are generally more competitive and cheaper than their Windows and Macs counterparts.
I am not sure what your pocket allows but there is always a Chromebook model available to you which comes with an attractive price tag and more-than-enough hardware specifications to cater for your needs.
Acer 14, HP 13, ASUS Flip C302 (recently announced) and Samsung Chromebook Pro and Plus (recently announced) are some of the relatively newer options that are available to you in 2017. Obviously, there are plenty more that are available as well.
Your budget will decide which one you would like to consider going forward.
In my case, although I am happy with my current Dell 13 (Core i3/4GB), my temptation is to try a 2-in-1 Chromebook as a next step.
Cloud Working Model is a Treat for a Common User Like Me
I was afraid of the word “cloud” until I started using the Chromebook.
Now, I am addicted to it.
I must highlight here that the strength of a Chromebook does not lie in its hardware and specifications.
The real strength is in the user experience which a Chromebook provides to its user through its cloud-based computing model.
In simple words, instead of downloading, installing and then running the software from your local machine, you manage and run your software from remote servers (cloud). This has revolutionised the personal computer use for me. I am sure that the way things are progressing in the internet world, cloud is the future.
I am fully cloud-dependent for my browsing and surfing, media consumption, storage, journaling and organisation, task management, writing and managing this website (blogging). There is nothing that I can not do from my browser’s window that makes me miss my Windows laptop.
I do not need heavy specifications for my laptop.
I do not need all the bells and whistles which come with their price implications and unnecessary maintenance overhead.
As a common user, the nature of my use just does not require all of that.
Chromebooks are simple and primarily rely on a cloud-based computing mechanism for a common user. Instead of your local machine to take the load, let the remote servers and posh bunch of computers do the tasks and major weight lifting. You enjoy the results in your Chrome browser window.
“If you ask me, cloud computing is the real strength of the Chromebooks – it subtly gets you into the cloud.”
If you are keen to trust and enjoy the cloud, Chromebook will facilitate this for you in a subtle manner. It slipped me into cloud officially and I am not hesitant to say that I am not going back.
Cloud is the future for me.
I normally say this, don’t just shake hand with the cloud, embrace it fully. It is more ingrained in your day to day computing than you think.
Think YouTube, Gmail and Amazon.
They are all cloud-based solutions.
Your browser can easily deal with all of these without the need of any specialist hardware on your local machine.
Lightweight OS and Negligible Maintenance – Keep it Simple
For me, as a common user who is not interested and technical enough in behind-the-scene OS (operating system), Chromebook is ideal.
When it boots for me in 7 to 8 seconds from the scratch, I don’t even feel it. If I am waking up my Chromebook from the “sleep mode”, this time reduces to about 4 seconds. Can’t complain at all.
I never had to do anything special to keep the OS in its tip-top form.
No manual updates and no antiviruses and anti-malware. It all comes as a lightweight Linux based Chrome OS which is loosely speaking “maintenance-free”. If you are connected to internet, it will literally take you seconds to get everything up to date and in-sync with the Google’s official copy of the Chrome OS.
I am not a security expert but I know one thing. I have never installed any firewall, antivirus, anti-fishing, anti-spyware or anything like that. It is all taken care of by the Chromebook with its lightweight but robust and secure OS.
It is this simplicity and practicality which is another key strength of a Chromebook.
I have loved this luxury in the last two and a half years and I am not going anywhere else. As a user with a busy lifestyle, Chromebook is perfect for me. It does not give me any unnecessary hassles.
Simple and to-the-point.
Exactly what I need.
Some Chromebook Niggles That are Worth Mentioning
On a more general level, I have covered this topic in detail in my another article titled as “Chromebook Limitations”.
Have a read and it will give you a full picture of what you should be aware of if you are thinking of getting a Chromebook.
As far as the niggles are concerned, I have only got a couple at this stage.
1I live in the UK and Chromebook availability is not as good as the USA. If you are outside the US, you may find that the Chromebook model you are looking at on internet might not be available in your country for purchase (or at least easily available).
This trend has to change. Chromebooks should be easily and widely available to everyone going forward. If someone from Google is reading these lines, this is a message that needs to go to the hierarchy.
2There is no resident video editor that we get out of the box in Chromebooks. I am not asking for anything too technical or complicated, a basic video editor is enough for common day to day and simple video editing.
I have written about this gripe before but to date there has been no development on this front.
But hey, these niggles are nothing in comparison to the overall package that Chromebooks offer.
Let them not distract you from exploring and enjoying a Chromebook.
Over 2 Years With Chromebooks – A Solid Option for a Common User
So here I am.
Approaching my three years with the Chromebooks.
And I am absolutely loving it.
You have read the reasons above why I am saying that. I invite you to join the club and explore the Chromebook experience from an open mind. You will not be disappointed.
If you are not looking forward to buy a brand new Chromebook just because you don’t know if you will be comfortable with it or not, try a second hand machine if you can. Or perhaps a cheap one (but still decent enough for your use) to start with.
If there are any questions or ambiguities in your mind, ask the question. If I can help, I will.
On the other hand, if you have already used the Chromebook, share your views and feedback with us.
What do you think of these machines?