Chromebooks have been out for a while now, and I finally found myself purchasing one last week at Best Buy since my (not-so-trusty) macbook pro retina is, once again, in the shop.
Enter the Samsung Chromebook 2. Limited by choice (we only have Best Buy and WalMart in Honolulu), and finances (broke college student), I found myself in need of a backup laptop that was: affordable, portable, and reliable. Best Buy had a display table with 6 chromebooks on it. After putting my grubby little hands on all of them, and comparing the specs across them, I felt like the only one that wouldn't drive me insane was the 11.6" Samsung Chromebook 2. ($199). The rest of the Chromebooks felt really cheaply/shoddily constructed. Yes, my display kind of sucks, but it's good for what I need, which is note-taking and Internet browsing. Thankfully, I have a Best Buy credit card from the old days (when I worked full time) so I could easily purchase it with the option to pay it interest-free in 6 months. (As a note they do price-matching with Amazon.com if the product is sold by Amazon and not a third-party seller.)
The Chrome OS--and even the keyboard and trackpad--might take some getting used to. One major thing to note: since it is Chrome, everything opens in a chrome browser window and your login is tied to your Google account (which is where the bulk of your data sits). Having Google docs and an active Microsoft Office 360 subscription means I can still remain productive on my Chromebook with ease. Applications are downloaded from the Chrome Webstore.
Issues with the OS
There are many applications that do not support the Chrome OS. For instance, I wanted to install R, after learning about it in a free workshop offered through the library, but of course it's OS X or Windows only. My solution was to install the Chrome Remote Desktop application on both my iMac desktop computer at home, and on my chromebook. By authorizing my iMac to be a host computer, I am able to remote in and use any applications I already have installed. However, to be safe I also made sure to have my iMac desktop connected via ethernet instead of wi-fi for network stability. I also have to leave the chrome remote desktop application running in the background on my desktop so I can connect to it.
Differences with the keyboard
The keyboard lacks a [caps lock] and [delete] key. Mac users are used to the lack of delete key, but the [caps lock] threw me off. Where the [caps lock] key usually sits, I have a search key with a magnifying glass icon on it. I found it somewhat redundant since I can click the same icon on my shelf to launch a search. You can enable it to function as a [caps lock] key through this support link. On the chromebook, I have a large [ctrl] and [alt] key but no third windows/apple command key. I don't know how that will affect me if something crashes and becomes non-responsive while I'm connected to my iMac.
Overall, if you are hard-up on funds and find yourself using your laptop mainly to take notes and search the Internet, I think a chromebook could definitely work for you. However, if you need to use your portable computing device for more robust functions I don't think I could recommend it; even with Chrome remote desktop.
Dropping Mad Library Science!
Here is where I write about everything library and archives related going on.