May 3, 2014

First look - Chromebook Acer C720

I finally made the plunge! Got myself Acer C720 chrome book which is based on Intel Haswell CPU and 11.6" screen. It cost me little over S$200 BNIB since there are many sets that come bundled with broadband deals available for sale in the market.

Just who is it for? Well, it appears I am the kind of user it is really made for. Why?

Content consumer or generator?

This is the key question. If you are just a consumer, that is, browse web sites, watch movies and dabble with Twitter and Facebook, play games, perhaps any tablet would do. But if you type a lot of stuff - blogs, email messages, forum posts, documents and sheets in the cloud and so on, then a keyboard based system becomes practically necessary. A tablet would not do.

Of course, you can get yourself a tablet with one of those bluetooth keyboards, but then they cost a bomb. For instance, a mid range Samsung tablet with a keyboard would set you back about $600. That's three times the price I paid for this!

Ready to live in the cloud?

The point is, I have been doing precisely that for years now, long before Google even thought of Chromebooks, long before there was even Chrome.

All my mails, contacts and documents have been on the cloud with mails going back to year 2000! I switched to Yahoo from laptop based Outlook back in 05 and uploaded all my mails to the cloud. When GMAIL came along, I switched again, this time transferring my mails over.  Along with that calendar, contacts, documents etc. Recently I surprised my customer showing him the first mail he ever sent, over 10 years ago! Very few that used traditional mail on hard disks can do so, having lost a few along the way to disk crashes and other disasters.

So I can switch laptops in a few minutes, not leave anything behind in the old one and ready to do so with the new one anytime as well.

So when I switched to Chromebook, I practically lost nothing. I don't use Excel for anything other than customer work where it is compulsory because of certain add-ins that don't work with Google Docs. I stopped using Word except for very big user document prepared again, at customer request.

That only leaves a few programs that I do use on my regular laptop (which I have not thrown away yet) - Skype (again used only when overseas), IE (again used only for work), Remote Desktop and VPN stuff (I am told some work on Chromebooks, have not tried them out yet).

Microsoft is helping Chrome!

Since M$ makes a lot of money on Office and wants to keep doing that, it is forced to offer its solution on the web, hoping users would stay in Office and not switch to Google Docs. This means the Office suite is available on the web, and you can use it with Chromebook!

What now?

I think this is a revolution and is here to stay. A few developments can force the pace and make it even better.

  1. Corporate apps like the ones by Oracle, SAP etc., need to be Chrome and HTML 5 compatible, not require IE
  2. Simple spreadsheet add-ins that are increasingly used by practically every business software should support cloud based systems like Office, Google Docs
  3. Ability to integrate with Corporate in house cloud based storage, facilities for backup etc. to take care of security concerns

If these are taken care of you will find most companies can take away 99% of their staff's costly laptops and give them $300 chromebooks that will do a far better job, with lot more security


BTW this blog post was done on my Chromebook, would have been impossible to do on a tablet! Actually I have sold / given away my tablets and am not going to buy one again unless Google stops selling Chromebooks!

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