"He Wears Black and Has a Beard"

Chromebooks:The Obvious Problem

Toby Roworth

Oct 14, 2013


Don't get me wrong - I think Chromebooks are a great idea. Just marginally ahead of their time, which makes them pretty useless.
This may all represent the bleeding obvious, but I feel I'm in a pretty good place to comment - I want to move as much to the cloud as possible, but am being held back.
Chromebooks are laptops running Chrome (the browser you're probably using to read this, according to my stats) and nothing else. The apps live in the cloud, more or less, on the assumption that you spend most of your time in the browser anyway, so don't really need the rest of an operating system. This is mostly true - I spend at least 90% of my time in the browser: However, the other 10% tends to be the really important stuff - design work. And this requires a set of programs that haven't quite made it into the cloud properly yet: I could conceivably run two computers: a Chromebook for general day-to-day use and my proper laptop for design work - the laptop would get all my Chromebook date through magic anyway. And with the anouncement of the £220 HP Chromebook 11, it became very tempting. But then comes the problem with Chromebooks:
The web's getting pretty resource-intensive these days - with at least 5 or 6 pinned tabs, averaging a hundred or so MB of RAM each and a load of other tabs open ("research" sessions often end up with a dozen or two tabs open) spare RAM becomes like gold dust, and the processor's starting to have a hard time keeping up with the whims of the web pages coders.
But the HP's specs are pretty close to my Nexus 4 - I struggle to see how it's going to keep up with my browser usage. The Chromebooks are cool because they're cheap, so it doesn't matter that they only run (*are) a browser, but to make them cheap they have to have the specs of a cheap computer. And I don't want to buy a computer with rubbish specs.
So maybe I should bite the bullet and buy a more upmarket Chromebook Pixel - essentially Google's answer to the Macbook. It's pretty sexy, but at £1049, cheap doesn't even factor into it. For that price, it's almost got a good spec, any gaps in it being supposedly taken up by how nice the screen is. And then comes the big problem.
If I'm spending that much on a laptop, with a touchscreen that's that nice, I expect it to run creative suite. And it can't.
So there's the problem - a low end Chromebook isn't good enough for the level of browser use I need, and the high end is too good for the web.
Give it a couple of years, when the native application is as good as dead, and I'd buy one in a flash, but right now there just isn't a suitable price/performance/usefulness tradeoff.
Whilst writing this, however, there was a problem.
The there I was, writing this post, when I notices I'd missed something about the HP Chromebook 11. It comes in black! £220 for a little black laptop and I'm much closer to being sold.
Thankfully I need to buy food. Damn you Sainsburys...