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  1. #1
    JohannBessler
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    What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    My OH wants it for Christmas, but after looking at the specs, I have my doubts.

    I feel more or less comfortable with the hardware, i.e. the memory, the processor speed, etc. Google hasn't told us how it boot, however. Can a user boot up under a USB stick or a USB external drive? Is there a BIOS?

    I see that they have based it on LInux, and that it has a Portage tree. I have some experience with Gentoo, so I could figure it out. But some say that the Shell will not allow but a few commands, making downloading through the Portage tree a challenge if not outright impossible.

    So what do you think?

    Could a user find a workaround, and put Gentoo Linux on it? Or would the firmware prevent this?

    Would it be smarter to just buy a Netbook?

  2. #2
    JUB Addict maxpowr9's Avatar
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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    If your other half has a android-based smartphone, a chromebook is a complete waste of money. In fact, one of my coworkers and I today were figuratively ejaculating all over our Galaxy s3's today. I wouldn't even blow my money on a netbook and you are better off just getting a tablet at that point.

  3. #3
    JohannBessler
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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    ^We'd had a bad experience with an iPhone, so he no longer has an interest in any kind of a smartphone.

    Due to his illness, we don't have a whole lot of money to spend, so the ChromeBook would have met our financial needs. I am typing right now on a rescued Dell Inspiron, but it has some electrical problems. The time has come to buy a new one.

    I don't think a tablet would meet our needs, Max. Tablets work best when the user consumes content, but fall short when they create content.

  4. #4
    GiancarloC
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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    What is your budget exactly?

    I would suggest a laptop... as it can provide a better experience with better components... but that's just me. Lenovo has some nice laptops out right now...

  5. #5
    JohannBessler
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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    ^I don't really want to spend over $300, GC.

    I'll take a look at the Lenovos. Thank you.

  6. #6
    GiancarloC
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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    Some Lenovo laptops may be under $300-350 right now...

    I did manage to get my Lenovo G570 for $268 a while ago (and it wasn't black friday)... which was a complete steal... considering it is now priced at $420... should be more sales though on other ones. I'm sure even after all this black friday nonsense they will have sales on them.

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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    A good summary of the Chromebook:

    So-so hardware running an OS that's a mediocre web-browser at its core.

    Unless you spend all your time online and using Google services, its a waste of money. Its also very poorly built, and certainly not worth the money.

  8. #8
    Grumpy Old Man jft245's Avatar
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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    I have not read very many good reviews about the ChromeBook. Check on line and at your local stores, you can sometimes find better deals on full feature computers.

    My local Wal Mart recently had a table full of marked down laptops and desktops. They were all un-opened, original box products. When I asked why they were so cheap the clerk told me that they were just models that had not sold and were being cleared out to make room for new stock. A new laptop (forget what brand) with 4 gig ram, 15 inch screen, 500 gig hard drive and Windows 7 was priced at $249, marked down from $349. I had neither the cash or my credit card with me, when I went back later in the day, it was gone.

    Sorry for rambling but I guess my point is check your local stores, you never know when you can get a hot deal.

  9. #9
    JUB Addict T-Rexx's Avatar
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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    Don't necessariily be put off by the lack of Windows. Chromebooks are a different idea. They do not do some things as well as Windows or Mac, but they do others a lot better. Engadget describes the latest Chromebook as "80% of the MacBook Air experience for 25% of the price." Engadget also praises the build quality of the new Samsung Chromebook as "fantastic."

    As you know, Chromebooks emphasize storage of data in the "cloud" and execution of applications on a remote internet server, rather than locally on the Chromebook. By off-loading services to the internet, Chromebooks do not require much local storage or processing power. That gives them long battery lives and relatively cheap prices, which are their chief advantages. The real keyboards are good for productivity applications, as you have noted. Boot times are fast. A Chromebook is safer for surfing the internet than is Windows.

    The primary disadvantage is that they require a fast and always-available internet connection. Because the idea is that the apps to be run will be online, there are only a few apps available to install locally on the Chromebook.


    Quote Originally Posted by JohannBessler View Post
    My OH wants it for Christmas, but after looking at the specs, I have my doubts.
    Why does he want one? What use does he intend to put it to?

    For me, hacking away at a machine, installing alternative OSs, and making it do things the manufacturers never intended is half the fun.

    But, for most people, if it isn't Windows or Mac, it's worthless and they don't want it (as you can see from the posts above).


    Quote Originally Posted by JohannBessler View Post
    I feel more or less comfortable with the hardware, i.e. the memory, the processor speed, etc. Google hasn't told us how it boot, however. Can a user boot up under a USB stick or a USB external drive? Is there a BIOS?
    Yes, you can boot from a USB stick or external drive.

    Chromebooks use a UEFI BIOS, similar to the new Windows 8 computers. They also implement secure boot like Windows 8. Normally, that would mean that you could not boot anything other than a Google-signed version of ChromeOS. However, unlike Win 8, Chromebooks have a hardware switch to turn off secure boot, enabling you to boot alternative OSs. That's important, because they run some alternative OSs quite well.

    Ubuntu 12.04 runs particularly well on the new Chromebook, and is particularly fast. There is even a special version of Ubuntu ("ChrUbuntu") specifically tailored to the Chromebook. Here are instructions for installing Ubuntu (ChrUbuntu) on the new Samsung Chromebook. You may install other OSs as well, of course, but they must be compiled for the ARM processor, which is what the new Samsung Chromebook uses.


    Quote Originally Posted by JohannBessler View Post
    I see that they have based it on LInux, and that it has a Portage tree. I have some experience with Gentoo, so I could figure it out. But some say that the Shell will not allow but a few commands, making downloading through the Portage tree a challenge if not outright impossible.
    Yes, ChromeOS is (yet another) implementation of Linux. I cannot speak to the flexibility of the ChromeOS shell, but it is easy to install alternative OSs on the latest Samsung Chromebook, as discussed above.


    Quote Originally Posted by JohannBessler View Post
    So what do you think?

    Could a user find a workaround, and put Gentoo Linux on it? Or would the firmware prevent this?
    As discussed above, there is a hardware switch that must be flipped to turn off secure boot. Except for that, there is no impediment to installing other OSs on the Chromebook. For the latest Samsung Chromebook, however, you must make sure to use an OS compiled for ARM processors. Previous Chromebooks used Intel Atom processors, but the latest Samsung Chromebook is ARM.

    There is a version of Gentoo for ARM, and it has indeed been ported to the Samsung Chromebook.


    Quote Originally Posted by JohannBessler View Post
    Would it be smarter to just buy a Netbook?
    A netbook would make more sense if you need Windows (e.g., for games). A netbook would also make more sense if you wanted to run local apps (like office applications) and you were uncomfortble installing operating systems on a PC. A netbook would also make sense if you need a huge hard drive. The Chromebook has only a 16 GB SSD, plus whatever you can save to a full-sized SD card.

    But, the Chromebook offers a much bigger screen than a netbook, as well as a full-sized keyboard, for the same price. It also offers a longer battery life and more secure surfing of the internet. It is faster both at boot-up and in routine operations. The Chromebook does not ship with many local apps installed, nor are many available for ChromeOS. A full suite of such local apps are available, but only if you are comfortable installing and using an alternative OS.

    The Chromebook may be a great choice for you if you don't mind learning new things and experimenting. If you are like most people, however, you should search around for a cheap Windows laptop. I saw a Dell Inspiron Win 7 laptop at Big Lots just a couple days ago for $250. I don't know the specs - it's probably not particularly fast or impressive at that price. But, it's a perfectly usable machine and it's what everyone else is using.

  10. #10
    GiancarloC
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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    Where did I say if it isn't Windows it's a waste of money and useless?

    I'm one who has a desktop with 4 hard-drives, one of which operates Linux. I'm just saying a regular laptop offers far more bang for the buck.

  11. #11
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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    Quote Originally Posted by T-Rexx View Post
    Don't necessariily be put off by the lack of Windows. Chromebooks are a different idea. They do not do some things as well as Windows or Mac, but they do others a lot better. Engadget describes the latest Chromebook as "80% of the MacBook Air experience for 25% of the price." Engadget also praises the build quality of the new Samsung Chromebook as "fantastic."
    I would not say that a notebook whose body flexes when you press the trackpad has 'fantastic' build quality. It is mediocre at best and offensively bad at worst. Think the materials Samsung uses in some of their cheaper phones, and you'll get the idea.

  12. #12
    JohannBessler
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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    @T-Rexx:

    I want to thank you for all the hard work you did in order to give me all the information. I see your post as unusually thorough.

    I feel quite certain that I can do the ChruBuntu installation. Since I use Ubuntu on a daily basis, I have a good amount of experience with it, although I certainly don't consider myself an expert.The original ChomeOS will not meet my needs, due to the fact that the user can't install printer drivers, but ChruBuntu certainly will.

    I feel a little bit concerned about the processor speed, but the RAM (at 4 gigs) seems to make up for it. My OH wants something new, so I think I'll go to Best Buy, play around with it a while, and make a final decision. At this point, it looks like a "yes".

    Thank you again for your help. You rock!

  13. #13
    JUB Addict T-Rexx's Avatar
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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    Through December 21, Google is offering the Samsung Chromebook to students for just $99.

    http://news.efytimes.com/e1/96362/Go...ks-To-Students

    That is an incredible deal, to those of you who may benefit from this offer. The usual price is $249.

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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    Quote Originally Posted by T-Rexx View Post
    Through December 21, Google is offering the Samsung Chromebook to students for just $99.

    http://news.efytimes.com/e1/96362/Go...ks-To-Students

    That is an incredible deal, to those of you who may benefit from this offer. The usual price is $249.
    That's not quite how it works. The deal is only for schools, and as a teacher you had to submit your credentials and school information to get them. It doesn't matter much, though, because they have none left.

  15. #15
    JUB Addict T-Rexx's Avatar
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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    ^ You need to be a public school teacher (or a student who can convince his teacher to apply) to get the Chromebooks at this price. So, eligibility is very limited. Nevertheless, the available supply sold out within a day. That's probably not surprising for such an incredible deal.

    However, there is a waiting list in case Google makes more $99 Chromebooks available. The offer was so phenomenally popular that many people think Google will probably extend it.

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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    Quote Originally Posted by T-Rexx View Post
    ^ You need to be a public school teacher (or a student who can convince his teacher to apply) to get the Chromebooks at this price. So, eligibility is very limited. Nevertheless, the available supply sold out within a day. That's probably not surprising for such an incredible deal.

    However, there is a waiting list in case Google makes more $99 Chromebooks available. The offer was so phenomenally popular that many people think Google will probably extend it.
    Again, they will ask for your credentials, so the only way to get one is if you're actually a teacher and are affiliated with a school. It is not for students, it is for schools and teachers to request. No one here would likely be able to use the offer.

  17. #17
    JUB Addict T-Rexx's Avatar
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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    Quote Originally Posted by JB3 View Post
    No one here would likely be able to use the offer.
    I happen to know some JUBbers who are public school teachers.

    Sorry this offer upsets you so much.

  18. #18
    JUB Addict T-Rexx's Avatar
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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    I don't know what you bought your hubby for the holidays, Johann, but a fascinating statistic has arisen in the last few days.

    The Samsung Chromebook was the #1 selling laptop at Amazon over the holidays.

    Two other Chromebooks made the top 20 sellers at Amazon. Three Chromebooks all made the top 20 sellers at Amazon, including the #1 selling laptop!

    And that's with almost no promotion whatsoever by Google or Amazon. That is amazing!

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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    Quote Originally Posted by T-Rexx View Post
    I happen to know some JUBbers who are public school teachers.

    Sorry this offer upsets you so much.
    It doesn't upset me at all. What bothers me is that you are posting it here as if anyone could sign up for it. It is more complicated than that. (and just being a teacher doesn't qualify you to get it)

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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    Quote Originally Posted by T-Rexx View Post
    I don't know what you bought your hubby for the holidays, Johann, but a fascinating statistic has arisen in the last few days.

    The Samsung Chromebook was the #1 selling laptop at Amazon over the holidays.

    Two other Chromebooks made the top 20 sellers at Amazon. Three Chromebooks all made the top 20 sellers at Amazon, including the #1 selling laptop!

    And that's with almost no promotion whatsoever by Google or Amazon. That is amazing!
    Google has been advertising it non stop since the beginning of November. You couldn't watch primetime TV without seeing an ad for it.

  21. #21
    JUB Addict T-Rexx's Avatar
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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    Quote Originally Posted by JB3 View Post
    It doesn't upset me at all. What bothers me is that you are posting it here as if anyone could sign up for it. It is more complicated than that. (and just being a teacher doesn't qualify you to get it)
    Quote Originally Posted by T-Rexx View Post
    Through December 21, Google is offering the Samsung Chromebook to students for just $99.

    http://news.efytimes.com/e1/96362/Go...ks-To-Students

    That is an incredible deal, to those of you who may benefit from this offer. The usual price is $249.
    Quote Originally Posted by T-Rexx View Post
    ^ You need to be a public school teacher (or a student who can convince his teacher to apply) to get the Chromebooks at this price. So, eligibility is very limited.
    Ummmm... ...why do you say I am "posting it here as if anyone could sign up for it?"

    Not sure I could have been more clear about this.

    Sorry this offer upsets you so much.

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    Re: What Do you think about the ChromeBook?

    Quote Originally Posted by T-Rexx View Post
    Ummmm... ...why do you say I am "posting it here as if anyone could sign up for it?"

    Not sure I could have been more clear about this.

    Sorry this offer upsets you so much.
    'Anyone' as in the school teachers you mentioned in the post I was responding to.

    No one, not even me (I'm a music teacher), on this board would be able to just sign up and get the deal, even if they're a teacher. That isn't how it works.

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