I was given the opportunity to get a Chromebook as part of my job at work and I graciously accepted. I’m always into trying out new technology and I do like the Google. However, Chromebooks are bit harder to get use to than I thought they’d be.
Chromebooks are just Chrome. That’s it. Whereas this sounds nice, you quickly realize how many limitations there really are.
For example, I just want a simple code editor so I can SFTP into a site and make some quick tweaks. The code editors I found are just web apps and most come with a subscription fee. I’m sure there are some nice free ones out there, but then I’m trusting some service with my server credentials. I can’t just go download Cyberduck and SublimeText or use what I already have.
Then there are Chrome apps. My main issue here is that Chrome apps are not apps. Chrome apps are just glorified bookmarks. They don’t do anything but take me to a website. Extensions are more like apps than apps are.
Speaking of bookmarks, by default, you can’t put bookmarks in the shelf (bar at the bottom of the screen) or save sites out as single site apps without the Chrome interface. These two features would be very nice to have.
You can change the enable-streamlined-hosted-apps flag to allow bookmarks to be saved in the shelf, but it’s not default. Once that’s enabled, you don’t really need to install Chrome apps.
You can also make apps launch in their own window, but they still include the Chrome interface and extensions.
Google did announce recently that Android apps are coming to Chromebooks. That sounds great as maybe now Chromebooks will get some actual apps. However, there is no word on when that might happen.
Overall, Chromebooks are great at what they are supposed to be; a web centric, cheap laptop. It is great if you just want to sit and focus, and it’s prefect for email, calendar, Google Docs, and surfing the web. If you want more, get a real laptop.
The more I use the Chromebook the more I do like it. My expectations are becoming more inline with what features Chromebook has. The less I think of it as a laptop, and the more I think of it as my browser with a keyboard, the better it becomes.