Feeds

back to article Review: The ultimate Chromebook challenge

Too slow, too expensive, too limited. That was the verdict of most hacks and punters on the early Google Chromebook laptops. Google has kept its shoulder to the wheel, though, and recently announced that 2000 schools are now using Chromebooks. Lenovo and HP have both recently jumped on the Chromebook bandwagon too, joining …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Linux

A couple of things

Pretty sure it's not a series 3 Chromebook, the Samsung Series 3 was an older x86 line. It is an xe303 though.

Also on the SD slot, if you get one of these -

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-3-1-USB-Multi-functional-Adapter-Card-Micro-SD-Card-SDHC-USB-UK-/181076395412

And stick in a microsd card, then cut the USB side off the adaptor with nail scissors (it still works fine) you have a flush-fitting SD slot. I agree it's a bad design. Also you can then install Chrubuntu on the SD and you have a fully-featured little laptop with awesome battery life :)

1
0
Alert

Re: A couple of things

Re. Series 3

Well, that's what Samsung is calling the thing...

http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/pc-peripherals/chrome-devices/chrome-devices/XE303C12-A01UK

0
1
Coat

Re: A couple of things

Weird, coulda sworn that was the case, the 3 series was a precursor to the 5s.... Oh well, been wrong before, I'll be wrong again!

0
0
Linux

Re: A couple of things

Reading that back, I'm not sure how the fella had such a tough time installing an alternate OS on the Samsung. There's a guide here - http://chromeos-cr48.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/so-you-want-chrubuntu-on-external-drive.html

It's got some, err, hiccups at the moment (battery indicator in Xfce is a bit unpredictable in terms of whether it even runs or not) but combined with a half-length microsd adaptor it really is good. Beats the pants off my old eee901 with debian.

0
0

People who buy Chromebooks for Linux are doing it wrong

I don't get buying a Chromebook and installing another Linux distro on it.

Instead of getting a Chromebook, in particular, Acer's, simply get the Acer equivalent Acer Aspire One. I got an Acer Aspire One 725-0687 for under 200 US dollars at Walmart for a holiday sale as opposed to the roughly 200 British pounds price being quoted for the Acer Chromebook. I don't have to worry about having to install only a hacked Ubuntu 12.04: I can install ANY Linux distribution I want, in my case, Debian unstable. Everything from wireless to suspend just works in Debian.

1
0
Linux

Re: People who buy Chromebooks for Linux are doing it wrong

I wanted it.to hack. I have something of an ARM fetish going on at the moment, so a chromebook with an exynoz SoC was exactly right.

AFAICT there is no equivalent to that. It runs ubuntu at the moment but I'm sure I'll be able to debootstrap wheezy onto it sooner or later.

1
0

"but the Acer has Caps Lock"

THAT'S THE WINNING FEATURE FOR ME.

20
1
Bronze badge
Thumb Up

Re: "but the Acer has Caps Lock"

As I understand it, you can change the keymap behaviour so that it acts like a caps-lock key. But yes, I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE. Have an upvote.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: "but the Acer has Caps Lock"

PRESS CTRL-SHIFT on the samsung and you get capslock, but it cancels when you press a none-letter key

0
0

Why not a tablet?

If the chrome books are only good for web browsing and light media consumption then I don't see the point of them compared to a tablet. The Nexus 7 and 10 being very good tablets.

I have a laptop and a tablet. The laptop is used for real work on the go, the tablet for web browsing and media consumptions. The laptop is really at its best sitting on a desk when you need to type. The tablet is best in all other locations where you don't need to type much.

2
2
JDX
Gold badge

Re: Why not a tablet?

Has anyone heard of any plans to make a ChromeOS tablet out of interest?

0
1
Silver badge

Re: Why not a tablet?

>If the chrome books are only good for web browsing and light media consumption then I don't see the point of them compared to a tablet. The Nexus 7 and 10 being very good tablets.

In a word- a keyboard. I didn't read anything that said they weren't good for just entering some text, be it an email or a novel. You don't always need fancy formatting and DTP tools.

3
0
Holmes

Re: Why not a tablet?

I don't see the need for a Netbook and I certainly don't see the need for a keyboard when you are using the device (as the original poster said) for " for web browsing and media consumptions"

So, let's say it again. A laptop for serious content creation and a tablet for media/Internet consumption (including the odd email/El Reg Post/Tweet). I'm writing this on my iPad now and I do 99% of my posts to El Reg on the iPad.

Personally, being a geek, I have 5 servers, a desktop, 3 laptops (two Linux & one MS) and an iPad. My partner has a laptop & a Nexus. My 70-odd year old parents use iPads - which does them for 90% of their needs - and an ageing laptop for occasional letters/printing.

Don't see any requirement for netbooks. They have been overtaken by other (better) tech.

However, for those of you who like being contrarians, I'm sure you will continue to insist that they are a most vital niche.

2
6
Silver badge

Re: Why not a tablet?

If I'm watching media, a laptop sits on my lap or a desk, angled perfectly. A tablet either lies flat, or you have to hold it the entire time. Or you spend extra on a stand, basically trying to turn it into a laptop, except one that only works on desks and not laps.

If I'm web browsing, that means typing too, which a touchscreen is a right pain for anything except trivial short Twitter-like material. You can spend extra on a keyboard, basically trying to turn it into a laptop, except one that only works on desks and not laps.

What advantage does a tablet have? Touchscreens have their uses, though most of the time on a 10" device or larger, I'd rather a touchpad (the thing about phones/smaller tablets is that your hand is the same size as the device, and a touchpad would be no point, as it'd be the same size as the display - on a large screen, you're having to move your hand the entire distance as a display, which is more time and effort than moving a finger across a small touchpad). A laptop with a touchscreen would be the best of both worlds, but with a choice of only one or the other, I'd rather a laptop, even when I'm just using the web or watching videos.

"I have a laptop and a tablet."

So if you're going somewhere, you have to decide if you're going to work or do web/media, or lug both around? If you're web browsing, and decide to type something, do you then have to get your laptop out?

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Why not a tablet?

Well I don't see any need for an ipad, I can do posting on my Samsung N220. They've been overtaken by (better) tech. If I just want a touchscreen device, I have one that fits in my pocket.

(What make of laptops and servers do you have? I mean, it's so important to mention iPad by name...)

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: Why not a tablet?

Just like a notebook gets carries around in a notebook bag many tablets are used in a book-case. And those have the stand (if needed) included. Some others like the Surface have the stand in the unit itself. I.e the Note 10.1 and it's soon to come replacement Lenovo TPT2 have such a case (add on) as did the EP121 (part of the package)

If I am browsing on any of the above I write mail with the WACOM stylus and let Windows (1) translate it. No need for a keyboard for what I do without a table. Works fine in the lap or the cradle of the arm. Telling the unit what to write also works for the EP121 (Nuance Dragon Natural) and likely will for the TPT(2). Windows internal speach recognition is also nice. Granted speech is not a tablet-only feature.

Tablet PC are smaller/lighter than a similar powered netbook/ultrabook if I do not need the keyboard. And 90+ percent of the time I do not. I do keep a BT keyboard in the attache case (or the notebook bag in case of the EP121 since that needs a charger to get over the day - TPT2 won't). And for most browsing/media consume stuff I do not need the keyboard.

Add in that Windows has software (as part of the OS in MS Journal, Part of office in OneNote) that can translate handwriting into text in a "batch mode" so I can even write lengthy concepts in handwriting and tell Windows "translate the stuff" when I am done. Depending on your handwriting and what the stuff is needed for simply mailing the draft around often is enough(3)

Same for check-reading documents in Word, Powerpoint or PDF format. The software supports hand written notes and handwriting->text. Where once before one would print out stuff and use colored markers you can now use a tablet pc.

10-13'' tablet pc are similar sized to a sturdy legal/A4 pad or writing board and can replace it if you have good, mature software for it. Windows does tablets since XP and the software is extremly mature, stabel and capabel.

About the only thing I do NOT use - is touch. One of the "not good enough" criterias on the Note 10.1 was that touch could not be completely switched off. Palm recognition on Wacom is good but not perfect (and eats cycles).

(1) Or Android but HWR there is Win-XP level currently

(2) The S10-3 could run Dragon at high CPU load

(3) Everyone uses Windows around here anyway

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Why not a tablet?

Well yes I have nothing against hybrids - you get the best of both worlds with a device that has a stand and keyboard, but can also be a pure tablet too. Though as I say in my original comment, a lot of the tablet stand/keyboard add ons don't work very well at all on a lap, as far as I can tell. There are hybrids that do work better (ASUS Transformer style ones), but then those are as much laptops as they are tablets.

Even with those hybrids, there do seem to be compromises - whilst the tablet-only part is lighter than an ultra-portable laptop, the combination of tablet and keyboard is usually slightly heavier (I think because being a tablet makes it top heavy, so you need the extra weight in the keyboard to make it work right in laptop mode).

And yes, fair point about handwriting recognition with a stylus - I've yet to try this, so if it works well, it's good to hear (though, even if it's perfect, I can still type much faster than I write...)

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Why not a tablet?

Agreed, a good 10 finger typist is faster with a good keyboard than he is with a stylus and handwriting-recognition. I am not a 10 finger typist :) But it is on the list of things to learn right after cooking and before scuba diving.

The hybrids are actually not my thing. I prefer an external Bluetooth keyboard. That way I can adjust distance freely and use whatever space is available. And I can keep the tablet unit in a book case/sleeve. With Atom units that is all I need for the workday, with core-i units I currently need a charger

The only "dock" I am currently interested in is the one from Lenovos Helix that allows "tablet plus" mode giving 10h operation time for a core-i tablet at less than 2kg(1) AND has a WACOM system unlike the Duo11 That unit has a detachable tablet part that seems to work and does something a simple BT keyboard can not do like having a second battery (unlike the Ativ 500 dock)

As for hybrid/convertible weigh: It depends on the hybrid. The Sony is actually very light (1.3 / 1.5 kg without/with sheet battery and sleeve) while the Fujitzu units are monsters that go well past 2kg when equipped with two batteries. The Ativ 700 falls in the middle at 1,8kg for the unit. If I had to get a unit today it would be a Sony Duo11 with sheet battery and sleeve (around 1200€ for the i3. And then use it in tablet mode only :)

(1) Given Lenovos track record with battery endurance recently I believe them the 10h

0
0

Re: Why not a tablet?

>>(What make of laptops and servers do you have? I mean, it's so important to mention iPad by name...)

For the same reason I say "Hoover" instead of "vacuum cleaner" of course

;-)

0
0

Re: Why not a tablet?

>> "I have a laptop and a tablet."

>So if you're going somewhere, you have to decide if you're going to work or do web/media, or lug both around? If you're web browsing, and decide to type something, do you then have to get your laptop out?

----->

Sometimes I actually find myself having days where I'm not working: for which I have a leisure-focused, consumer geared tech, that for me is a tablet.

I have an idea while NOT working, I may make a note of it - and even email myself the note. What I won't do is try to (a) work constantly and (b) try to type/create anything of substance on a netbook interface. When working, I have both with me and find that no chore ;-)

0
0
Silver badge

Netbook 2.0?

Really pleased you tested replacing the OS.

Google should be able to stop Microsoft doing to Chromebooks what it did to netbooks. Removing the MS taxes (software license+increased hardware requirements) might bring the cheap netbook market back to life, for those of us prepared to replace the OS.

10
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Netbook 2.0?

So you admit the market for such a device is so tiny that it can only exist by piggybacking on hardware produced for a different market?

is there any (other) reason that Ubuntu, or Red Hat or any other big player in the Linux space hasn't produced a Linux netbook?

0
1
Silver badge

Re: Netbook 2.0?

...perhaps for all the same reasons MS shouldn't have produced a tablet?

Those of us wanting just the hardware without the OS are always going to be a tiny minority. However the general public happy with limited functionality are also getting the same better deal without the MS tax, an overhead that destroyed any price advantage netbooks had.

1
0

Re: Netbook 2.0?

So what's the Acer like with Win7 Home Premium installed on it?

0
1
Anonymous Coward

Hmm...

I'll save Eadon the bother:

Why all these free adverts for Google?

Oh, hang on, it's a fair review of Google's software, rather than of MS' so it's not an advert, it's a fair review.

2
1
JDX
Gold badge

Multiple accounts?

Does anyone know how ChromeOS handles people who, like me, have multiple google accounts? I have my personal gmail account, but my business stuff is also g-apps powered so I have a jdx@mydomain.com login too... I think these days its the same architecture underneath.

0
0

Re: Multiple accounts?

Haven't used this latest version of chromeos, though i doubt it's worse. In the original, when you turn on, or log out, you find yourself at a login screen where you use your google login. So switching is a matter of logging out, then logging into the other. I expect current chromeos would be the same, but don't actually know that.

Which means having both active on the screen at the same time probably isn't going to work.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Multiple accounts?

I currently have three Google accounts on my Samsung.

My main account. A Google Business Apps account and a junk account to let people play around with when I demo it.

All work independently.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Multiple accounts?

It would seem that you options are setting up a multiple user profiles (not great for working between accounts) or launching incognito windows to access the web services of your other accounts (no saving passwords or history).

https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!topic/chromebook-central/nhITKi0YI38

0
0
JDX
Gold badge

Re: Multiple accounts?

On Chrome browser you can indeed login to multiple accounts at once... it's a bit flaky but WAY better than it used to be.

But I was wondering more about the machine login... and how tightly integrated your google login id is to the OS. If you can simply do "login to another account" from the browser/gmail that would be fine.

0
0
Bronze badge

To sum up the benefits: They are cheap

On all other parts of the system the guys at Samsung must have been working really hard to build a ARM based unit that has less duration then their Atom-powered ATIV500 (That adds a battery-eating WACOM digitizer) and weights more than that unit + a BT keyboard and can do less if I loose the net

What's the benefit of using this instead of the ATIV500 and the Google apps in a browser?

0
1
Silver badge

Re: To sum up the benefits: They are cheap

>Samsung must have been working really hard to build a ARM based unit that has less duration then their Atom-powered ATIV500

The power consumption advantages of ARM over x86 are most evident when the system is sat doing nothing - so is suitable for smartphones. When the CPU actually has a job to, Intel's new Atoms have some tricks up their sleeve- not least a more advanced fab process and a more efficient memory controller. Note that the test in this article was looping a 720p video. The battery benchmarks for using it as a word processor (i.e write something, stare into space for ten minutes, write a few more lines, get bored, check emails, wander off for a coffee) might give different results.

Actually having the same system on both ARM and x86 allows power consumption per task comparisons, something that has been done before between Win RT machines on ARM and x86

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: To sum up the benefits: They are cheap

The ugly thing is - Intels new Atoms (Baytrail) are not yet out while the Chromebook uses the A15 ARM (the most current version). The Ativ 500 and all other Atom based tablets currently for sale use an aging Cedartrail Atom with known problems in step up/step down and GPU throtteling. I have chossen the ATIV as a low end (endurance and price-wise) unit that is also Samsung AND has an extra battery eater in the inductive stylus. Pay a bit more and you get even more endurance (TPT2 is 10.5h)

Wake/Sleep times for Win8 units with SSD are fast enough to map a softkey to "sleep" and press it when you go for a coffee and the tasks you described will actually get the CPU/GPU combo to throttle down nicely. For a real battery eater with CedarTrail switch between "low GPU" and "high GPU" loads or use stuff that produces peak loads on the CPU (voice recognition does fine)

0
0
Silver badge

Re: To sum up the benefits: They are cheap

Nitpick: The Ativ 500 (and all current x86 Atom tablets) use Clover Trail (which isn't that old, it's the current generation). Cedar Trial was the older one.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: To sum up the benefits: They are cheap

Thanks, juggle them around the wrong way about 50 percent

0
0
Silver badge

12s... enough difference to negate a feature

"The C7 takes 22 seconds to start, the S3 just ten. I’d argue the 12 seconds difference is near irrelevant in the real world"

Except my Win7 desktop can boot in under 25s so the Acer has lost that supposed Chromebook feature. That's with an HDD, if I fitted an SSD to my desktop it would be faster.

I still don't see the point of these things. They aren't a capable laptop/desktop replacement and a smartphone/tablet can do everything they can. Why do Google produce ChromeOS as well as Android?

0
1
JDX
Gold badge

Re: 12s... enough difference to negate a feature

I still thought Google had designed/stipulated ChromeOS to only run with SSD.

0
0

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Bronze badge

Re: Netbook market

Iwas looking at these a few weeks ago after a comment on the reg article about the demise of netbooks

The OpenSuse site has instructions fo rinstalling it on these, but there are some issues like trackpads not working, no sound etc, which is a shame

0
0

Re: Netbook market

You can get one of these to run linux but it's not pretty and not very practical. The thing with these chromebooks is you aren't the target market. The market is the people who bought netbooks because all they wanted to do is browse the web and check their emails and play the odd game here and there.

Google will never ship them with a Linux OS or make reference to Linux because they know it confuses and scares people which is why they've been smart and played the long game,

People laughed at the first wave of these machines calling them nothing more than a 'dumb terminal' and useless without the Internet, but thanks to eroding the market share of Firefox and Internet explorer (via good marketing campaigns and some shady tactics bundling the browser with other software) your average punter is starting to associate Chrome with the internet which will help these sell.

I know a few older people who bought netbooks to browse the web and check emails and they just didn't like the slow performance and the constant need to fight with XP just to be able to use the machine. They ended up putting the netbooks in a cupboard and buying iPads because they just worked and were hassle free.

Chromebooks are hassle free and there will still be a large number of people who just want a machine with a keyboard that lets them browse the web and check emails. Some of the apps in the store including Gmail work offline so Google are slowly but surely turning this into a dark horse

5
0
Silver badge

Re: Netbook market

>Remember netbooks, MS killed that market

Eh? Okay... are you sure it wasn't the originally low specs and shoddy Linux distro on the first EEE PCs that put people off? The netbook was small and cheap, suitable for quickly checking emails and browsing the web if you could find a Wi-fi hotspot. Since then, smartphones can do the same but in more places, due to a 3G data connection, and tablets can do the same but do it better- because the screens can be rotated through 90º and often boast better resolutions. I used a netbook for as a data logger for a temperature probe, but guess what OS the supplied drivers and software were for? Oh yeah, that's right...

True, MS would rather sell you a more expensive version (as would Intel and their chips), but first they get flack for selling XP at low cost to netbook OEMs, then they get flack for not offering a cheap 'Starter Edition' of Win 8....

> I just wish this hardware came with Linux

Why? Just download it and install it yourself- if it did come with Linux, the chances are it wouldn't be the flavour you want anyway. Google commissioned and marketed these machines for their own reasons- there is nothing to stop penguins doing the same for their reasons, through Kickstarter perhaps. If you believe the demand is there, why don't you do it?

3
2
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Netbook market

Everyone I have shown my Chromebook to has gone "oh wow, this is sooo cool!"

Several of my tech buddies have said "this is the solution for my parents!"

Several in my small business network are interested in it too.

All Google has to do is really start pushing it. I think they also need to smarten up and simply the whole Google Apps/Docs thing. It's a bit fuzzy at the moment.

Oh and it runs linux. Just...(adopts ObiWan Kenobi voice and arm gesture)...not the Linux you are looking for!

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Netbook market

I always thought single core atoms, 4200rpm HDDs and 600 pixel depth screens killed Netbooks.

They always felt like parts bin specials to me. I see a lot of customers with them and not one has ever said "oh I adore my netbook!"

Usually it's "bloody thing, only good for taking on holiday and then it packed up half way through...."

0
2
Bronze badge

Re: Netbook market

Did MS really kill the netbook market? Or did the emergence of tablets kill off the netbook market?

I am fairly sure that MS didnt really have any sway over manufacturers when it came to putting Windows on them, if it did then I would bargain they would have preferred Windows 7 go on these devices as opposed to Windows XP.

I guess the netbook market allowed manufacturers to get rid of their existing Windows XP stockpiles - thats just an assumption on my part, not a fact.

Another side of the argument would be why would manufacturers prefer to install XP on these devices instead of a Linux? Again, would MS really be that interested in expanding the XP user base when they were trying quite hard to get people to move on?

0
3
Silver badge

Re: Netbook market

Exactly - these aren't notebook replacements, they are tablets with a keyboard

They are also (at least in the USA) 1/4 the price of Microsoft's surface and seem to do pretty much the same.

The Samsung is also 1/5 the price of a mac book air if you just want to hang around in starbucks looking cool - you an always buy an Apple logo sticker for it

1
1
Silver badge

Re: Netbook market

I had a couple of those Apple logo stickers that you used to get with iPods (dunno if you still get them).

I stuck one on my toilet seat.

Can often hear a chuckle from the toilet when guests come round.*

I call it the iPlop!

*Its a small flat so don't imagine I sit there with my ear to the door.

3
0
Bronze badge

Re: Netbook market

Actually the last generation of Netbooks like Lenovos S10-3 came with Win7 and overlapped the 1st gen Android tablets with Android 3. So the "stockpile of XP" was likely not the cause companies build them.

Nor was MS what killed them. The pre-installed Linux where exotic distributions and often not all that good ones. A netbook with Suse or xBuntu preInstalled MIGHT have sold decently IF it had enough memory, harddisk and screen resolution and supported hardware. 1024x600 resolution isn't all that great for doing anything more complex in landscape mode. The hardware in many of them had no driver support outside the distributions they where delivered with (WLAN was extremly problematic and with Netbooks that's a big problem)

And when the units had matured the triple slam came and killed them:

iPads and 1st gen Android tablets with A3 that could do the surfing/reading/short writing better (lighter, better screen-resolution, lighter, longer runtime)

Smartphones that could do the mail/news stuff better

Used notebooks for decend prices and good spare (batteries) supplies like the X60/X61 series from IBM and a general drop in prices for low end notebooks (Better screen resolution etc)

Few netbooks survived, mostly AMD based units that had better capabilities to start with.

0
0
Bronze badge
Windows

Re: Netbook market

To comment on this line:

"...I might take a look at a Chromebook myself. I just wish this hardware came with Linux...."

If I were to be pedantic, ChromeOS is a Linux.

But then again, Eadon is rarely a pedant...

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: Netbook market

Exactly - these aren't notebook replacements, they are tablets with a keyboard

Not really. Not without touch-based UIs, which Chromebooks don't have.

0
0
Bronze badge

@jason 7

iThrone?

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.