One and half year after purchasing my Samsung Chromebook model 303C12, the advantages I once saw faded away in front of growing frustration, ending the honeymoon.
Let’s be fair, my Chromebook did overall well for what I asked it for. I wanted it mainly for convenient writing, long battery life and low weight.
I purchased it 300 Euros in July 2013, at a time no laptop PC I remember could meet this price. The limits of the Chromebook and applications became soon apparent as I tested it, but sticking to my prime requirements, still found it was a nice piece of technology.
Over time though, the limitations grew annoying.
From the beginning it was clear I could not ask my chromebook to be an assistant to view high quality pictures taken with my DSLR, the processor was not fit enough to handle smoothly typical 7Mb photos without making you wait an eternity.
Watching videos in streaming also quickly faces the limits, which is a pity as I found convenient to use the Chromebook as a wifi receiver for TV shows replay on the Web and connect it to a TV set via HDMI.
Knowing the challenge such a thing is for the Chromebook, I did it over and over again, sometimes with fair results, but mostly with frozen screens while it was buffering up. When this happens every twenty seconds, you’ll quit watching.
Great when I discovered it, Google docs in conjunction with Google drive allowed me to share files and write on any device in the most different locations and situations. But over time, docs begun to suck, especially when magnifying a bit the display, the cursor did not match the actual cursor position and drove me crazy as soon as I typed something after the left half of the doc’s page.
Due to this erratic cursor behavior I lost precious time to correct all my typos and my temper altogether.
Another great feature I use and abuse is the right-click search or define function. Alas, for some reason the first attempt in any session causes the search to freeze all the page and after a quite long moment to return a kind of “service not available” message.
This is even more frustrating as after regaining control and retry, the search or define works usually well.
What also increased over time is the freezing of the page (probably while Google docs tries to save onto Google drive, what it does permanently). It happens more and more often, which reduces greatly the interest of what I once felt as convenient writing tool.
Google sheets and slides
Sheets and Slides are simplified versions of Excel and PowerPoint. Ok for small modifications or quick work on small files, but not serious when trying to work and share files for professional use. I was once in a situation I had only the Chromebook at client’s premises and I understood it was to remain the only time.
I was happy to discover I could use my iPhone to keep writing on docs while commuting by bus, but here also, over time, the crashes multiplied, letting me write few sentences before Google docs suddenly closed. By chance, the last sentences were generally still there, but every restart caused a long waiting time while the phone tried to connect to Google drive.
Alternately to crashes, Google docs suddenly denied any typing because it lost the connection to drive. The latest surprising change with Google Drive was the impossibility to edit a file without installing Google docs, which was not necessary previously.
This has nothing to do with the Chromebook you may say. That’s right, but docs, drive and the terminal used are a system and the Chromebook heavily depends on the other components.
The Chromebook and apps work best where PCs do as well: in environment with good WiFi and gets quickly disappointing elsewhere.
Only advantage left is longer battery life, but what’s the use if no meaningful work can be done?
Given the PCs price drop, they regained advantage especially because serious software can be installed.
For me that’s the end of honeymoon. I bought myself an Asus F200M with touch screen, barely heavier than 1 kg.
I will keep going with the Chromebook as a commodity.