Tag: Chromebook

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I Buried My PixelBook Ambitions at Google Store

I would like to thank Google for saving me thousands of dollars in needless spending. Near the end of today’s gangbuster hardware event, I was ready to order two new Chromebooks and smartphones, one each for me and my wife. But “error 500” pages on the company’s store website and long-lead new product availability dates prompted me to cancel the one order successfully made and to delete the others in process from my shopping cart.

For a company whose product managers droned on this morning about all the reasons why artificial intelligence is so right, Big G got the store selling experience all wrong. I have waited through most of 2017 for a new Google-branded Chrome OS laptop. While hardly a fresh hardware design concept, PixelBook is nevertheless tempting enough to bring me back to the AI and voice-assistant contextual future from the Apple rotting on the overly-obsessed touch-UI tree. I was willing and ready but instead walked away angry. 

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Living with Apple’s Mistakes

I lied, but not deliberately. One year ago today, I wrote: “Apple Lost My Heart to Google in 2015“, explaining that “my mainstays at the start of 2016: Chromebook Pixel LSPixel CNexus 6P, and Huawei Watch. I abandoned Apple and there are no plans to return..I will write more about Google in 2016 than previous years, because of the benefits I see. As for Apple, the company had my heart for the longest time. I challenge CEO Tim Cook to win back my adoration; skeptical I may be”.

By March, however, Apple won back my business with little effort, and I gave up the Google lifestyle. Transition back to the Orchard started with a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro: 3.1GHz Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, purchased from DC Computers. Three reasons: 1) I believed Mr. Cook’s privacy promises, all while my concerns about Big G information collection increased. 2) I found the visual acuity of Apple fonts and user interfaces to be far superior to Google’s, which helped compensate for diminishing reading vision (later recovered through eye surgery). 3) Google’s platforms proved inadequate for easily recording, producing, and publishing the Frak That! podcast, which is available on SoundCloud

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iPhone for Education

Many educators won’t agree, but perhaps students will: The PC, whether desktop or notebook, is obsolete in the classroom. This reality, if accepted for what it is, presents Apple opportunity to retake the K-12 market from Alphabet-subsidiary Google’s incursion and sudden success with Chromebook among U.S. schools. If the fruit-logo company doesn’t seize the moment, a competitor will—and almost certainly selling devices running Android.

Chromebook’s educational appeal is three-fold: low cost, manageability, and easy access to Google informational services. For buy-in price, and TCO, no Apple laptop or tablet running macOS or iOS, respectively, can compete. Think differently! Providing students any kind of computer is shortsighted, by narrowly presuming that schools, or their parents, must buy something. I suggest, in this time of budgetary constraints, that educators instead use what the kids already possess (or want to) and what they use easily and quickly: The smartphone. 

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Epitaph to Chromebook

A few days ago, one of my Google+ followers, Steve Kluver, commented on an August 2014 share: “I am shopping for some more Chromebooks this Holiday Season, and found this post via G+ hashtag #chromebook search. How current is your ebook now?” He refers to Chromebook Reviews, which is available from Amazon for sale or for free reading with Kindle Unlimited. I apologized that the tome, published more than two years ago, is “way out of date”. If I’m not going to revise, I really should remove the title.

I offered to give him buying advice, which got me to thinking about Chromebook as a concept and computing edifice. While a big fan, and owner of both generations of Google-made Chromebook Pixel, my primary laptop was a MacBook Pro for most of 2016. Measure of commitment: I bought the new 15.4-inch Touch Bar model just a few weeks ago. I’ve moved on, and got to thinking about why in crafting my response. 

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Psst — Here’s What Google Wants from Android Apps on Chromebook

Your kids. Chromebook leads laptop and desktop sales through U.S. commercial channels to schools, according to NPD. Education is overwhelmingly the primary market for the computers. The institutions can’t buy enough of the thangs, for their utility and low-cost compared to notebooks running either OS X or Windows. That cost is as much about extended webapps and services from Google (or its developer partners), available for free or comparatively next-to-nothing, set against software for the other platforms.

Wrinkle in the Google firmament: iPhone and Chromebook are like water and dirt. The sediment settles unless shaken up. Sure youngsters can do all their Googly things—Docs, Gmail, Maps, Photos, YouTube, etc.—on iOS but the experience is smoother and more homogenous when mixed Android and Chrome OS. What the kiddies lack, and their educators, is a swath of useful apps like the Apple kids get. 

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I Couldn’t Break the Surface Tension

Today, Microsoft started selling Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, and I strongly considered buying either. During the past 10 days, I visited the company’s Fashion Valley store four different times specifically to play with the devices. The hardware dazzles, but I couldn’t get beyond Windows 10 when compared to benefits I receive using Chromebook Pixel LS. SB’s price, which starts at $1,499, is another impediment.

There is something to be said for straightforward, simple, and efficient computing, which Google gets right. Contextual sync is among Chrome OS’s biggest benefits. Little things, like popping my camera’s SD card into Pixel’s slot and the laptop backing up photos to Google Drive, which is accessible from the file manager as if local storage. Granted, there are application gaps, but the overall user experience fills them in.

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Origin Story

Sometimes the Internet community surprises me. My last post, “Apple, How Did It Come to This?” is why. Everyone creating content everywhere wants to know the magic formula for generating reader response. The pageview-obsessed seek the golden ticket that consistently means clicks. Me? I write obsessively. It’s like breathing—a necessary and unavoidable act.

The “Come to This” post garnered quite a bit more attention than I expected, in part because of its origin. Some of the activity is Twitter, but more of it occurred on Google+ overnight. The post is an adapted Plus response to a comment to a shared BetaNews story that I wrote based on something else I posted first on Google+. Confusing, isn’t it? I’ll explain in linear fashion. 

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Acer Chromebook 15 Review

I am not a fan of overly-large laptops, but if I were to buy one, Acer’s 15.6-inch monster would be among my top choices. The Chromebook packs in lots of value, which first and foremost is 1080p resolution to match the large screen, a benefit that is atypical for the price and size class. Screen brightness is no match for the Toshiba Chromebook 2, but the matte finish compensates for dimness by dramatically reducing glare. Meanwhile, the IPS display gives great viewing angles.

The point: Acer doesn’t just offer bigger, but better, among the overall Chromebook category, where  dim TN screens are standard fare. That also can be said of competing Windows laptops, where with same size screen in the price range, or even more costly, resolution typically tops out at 1366 x 768. Chromebook 15 is 1920 x 1080. By more than size, the display is a big benefit. 

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Discussing Chromebook’s Success

One of the problems with bad news reporting: Those of us who strive to be responsible and accurate are lumped in with the lumps of coal, and the black powder rubs off on us. Illustrative: The excellent exchange I had over at BetaNews to the version of my Dell Chromebook 13 story posted there.

Commenter Joe HTH bristled about bloggers overstating NPD data and making Chromebook’s success much larger than it really is. I agree that this occurred about 18 months ago. But he levels his accusations at my reporting , which I assert correctly stats and interprets newer data that the analyst firm released just a few days ago. What follows is his comment and my response, in red and blue rather than block-quoted. I put story titles to my links, which are presented differently in the commenting system. 

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Dell Chromebook 13 means Business

The strangest, and largely overlooked news, coming out of the tech sector this past week was Dell’s Microsoft betrayal. This isn’t the first time that the PC maker strayed. Linux joined the product stable long ago, and last year an educational Chromebook debuted. But this newer and larger model, which will be available September 17, raises question: WTF?

Dell’s core PC market is business—small, large, and everything between. Windows, and that smattering of Linux, is core, and longstanding loyalty to Microsoft’s application stack. But the Chromebook 13 announcement, as positioned by the OEM and Google, is all about the competing cloud app stack. Interestingly, selling prices rival Windows laptops, which is another head scratcher: $399 to $899, depending on configuration. 

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Acer Chromebook 15 Display is More Than Just Big

As if my Pixel LS review isn’t enough, another Chromebook demands attention. Last week, Acer offered its maxi-model for review. FedEx delivered yesterday but I only cracked open the box this afternoon. The screen is motherfraking huge. Everything is humongous, actually.

The other big thing about the display—maybe that should be plural: IPS and 1080p. It’s the first Chromebook that my aging eyes can handle at full, native resolution. I keep the Pixel jacked down to 1440 x 956, like Toshiba Chromebook 2. Acer smartly chose a matte rather than glossy screen, which works surprisingly well. Viewing angles aren’t exceptional, but they are surprisingly good. Very, very good. Colors and contrast please, too.

Chromebook 15 isn’t the first Acer to user a matte display, but the others tend to be dim TNs. I like the company’s approach of going back to move ahead. Matte should make the IPS screen viewable just about anywhere—even outdoors in the sunlight. Reflective screens arguably give greater contrast but are overrated and way overdone.