Many Chromebook Reviews So Short-Sighted

It is disappointing that so many otherwise competent writers on technology are publishing totally dismissive reports about Chromebooks.

I should start by admitting I don’t yet have a Chromebook to test, but I can’t wait to get one and use it productively. This post was triggered by a colleague sending me the post by Galen Gruman with the indicative title ‘Whatever You Do, Never Buy a Chromebook’. Yes, it was a totally negative review, negative piled on negative. The only ones I agree with are the lack of Bluetooth, Skype and convenient printing. Personally I see the ’primitive’ hardware and OS as huge positives. I have a great deal of my files already in the cloud and look forward to having more of them there.  Better a Chromebook that a PC/Mac laptop costing up to 5 times as much.

I already have constant Wi-Fi/3G Internet connection on my iPhone/iPad devices where perhaps less than 10% of my work/recreation/socializing can be done without the Internet. I stream everything where I can such as podcasts, music and video, and only ebook reading and game playing are done offline. Chromebooks have instant on from sleep just like iPhone/iPad and boot from cold in a quarter of the time. Laptop boot times are left in the dust.

A much more balanced and believable article is by Audrey Watters entitled ‘A Day Without Native Apps: My Chromebook Experiment’. She actually used her Chromebook for a day’s real work, and mentions the sometimes unexpected pros and predictable cons. After a day her conclusion ‘ at the end of the day, despite a lot of reservations, I think the Chromebook is very much doable for most folks’, grudging admission of some capability.

I think both authors missed out in considering the significant long-term benefits. Chromebooks automate or eliminate many common, time-intensive tasks like application distribution, deployment and installation, patching, and upgrades. No upgrading ever is huge, judging by the constant complaining of my friends and neighbours and their parents and kids. Even their iPhones/iPads languish with tiny numbers of apps and old versions of iOS. The constant need for upgrading is a killer. Although not an Android user my guess is the same applies to those smartphones. What use an app for everything if few know how to use native apps.

The tiny attack surface and lack of local storage are other major pluses for Chromebooks. There is no need to purchase licences for anti-virus, data encryption and data back-up software, all major problems for my not-so-tech-literate friends.

For those who think that Chromebooks are just an experiment that will eventually be swallowed by Android take a look at the post by Alex Chitu with the title ‘Google Makes Money from Chromebooks’. It would seem that many commentators on technology are selling Google short.

When I have a Chromebook in my hands I may be proved wrong but currently my confidence is high that everyday users, not computer-savvy tech writers, will see Chromebooks as an answer to their prayers. Here’s a mother-in-law who has even loves a CR-48!


About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

2 Responses to Many Chromebook Reviews So Short-Sighted

  1. Eddie says:

    Just stumbled upon your post (while using my Chromebook!) and I have been thinking much the same thing as you. Yes there are obvious limitations to Chromebooks and their approach, but the lack of needing to do OS maintenance, rabbit-fast startup/shutdown, and other benefits make them very enjoyable to use if your particular needs are “cloud friendly”.

    I’m really happy with mine so far, and if/when you do finally get one I hope you have as much fun with it too!


  2. Michael Rees says:

    Good to hear of your positive reaction to your Chromebook. I can’t wait for them to be available in Australia. I am probably 75% converted to cloud apps in my daily work schedule with my range of desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone devices.

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