Sunday, May 19, 2013

Living on a Chromebook - Day 3

19 May, 2013
Living on a Chromebook - Day 3

Welcome back.  I hope you enjoyed the first entry, if you haven’t read it you can find it here.  IN the last entry I covered the basics of what a Chromebook is, the specifics of the model I am using, and went in to my initial impressions.

This time I will update you on some the issues I was having, begin to expand upon the capabilities of the computer, and provide some comment on how the transition is going on to the Chromebook from a “traditional” laptop, my Android tablet and my desktop Windows PC.

The Last 48 hrs

I have to say, overall I am still quite happy with this laptop and I am not having any “buyer’s remorse.” I am becoming quickly familiar with the keyboard and really like the feel of the keys. The small issue I was having with the left shift is really no longer a problem, and I rarely miss this key now; I can’t quite say the same thing regarding the backspace key, but it is getting better.

I absolutely love the small form factor of the Acer C7 laptop.  The 11.5” screen, combined with the light weight of only 3 lbs, makes this a delight for me to use, and use anywhere I like.  I am comfortably lounging in a chair with it on my lap while I type this, and I am completely comfortable.  I have used it in bed to read, surf and write - again without any issues - and I can just grab this computer and move it around anywhere with ease.  I foreseen no issues chucking it in a bag and taking it on the road.

With everyday life occasionally getting in the way of dedicated 24/7 use of my new toy, I also appreciate how quickly this machine boots/reboots, but especially the 2 second wakeup from sleep.  That is as fast as my tablet, and allows me to immediately pick-up from where I last left off. When I may only have a minute or two to work/play, saving 30 seconds everytime I boot makes a, who likes to wait!

I still remain concerned with the limited battery, but this product makes not attempt to hide that it comes with a relatively light battery, which as mentioned previously is only 4 hrs.  So far that estimate has held true whenever I have gone unplugged, which I do most of the time until it starts to get low, or I anticipate wanting to remain unplugged, in which case I top it up.  For now, the battery life is more than sufficient.  That being said, when I compare how I just finished using my TF201 tablet for my last business trip, I am not sure this machine would have lasted the trip, but I will test that definitively next time I travel.


HDMI video out - so it has a port, but does this apparently diminutive machine have the chops to drive a 55” LED TV?  I am happy to say it had no problems, even on battery, using any monitor or TV that can take a HDMI input.  I was able to use it as a mirrored image, as an extended desktop, or as the primary display. Each performed smoothly and without any difficulty.  Initially the image did not fit the TV perfectly, the edges of the desktop were a little wider than the image rendered on the TV.  This was easily corrected by selecting the TV from the settings pop-up and using the arrow keys to resize.  What I haven’t tried yet, is if the Chromebook will remember those adjustments the next time I plug it in.

Video Playback - So, you have you Chromebook hooked-up to you massive TV, now what?  Well you can play back most video formats, and of course stream video from wherever you normal watch video online.  I have successfully played mkv, avi video files and they all played flawlessly on the native video app.  Video_TS and .iso files will not play natively, but you may be able to find an app at the Chrome Web Store that will allow you to play them - I have not checked for one yet. Streaming video, and this is over a WiFi connection as well, was equally smooth and of the same quality as any other platform.

Audio Playback - Unfortunately I only have mp3 files to test, but I have been able to play all my music with the organic applications, either from files save on the HDD, from an external drive, or from the cloud perfectly and without any lag.  The sound quality is excellent when using headphones, but it is a little underwhelming when listening (to anything) on the Acer C7 Chromebook speakers.  The problem with the speakers is that they face down on the laptop, and as they are understandably small speakers, what little sound is generated gets lost especially if the computer is on you lap.  I did find somewhat better sound performance when I had the computer on a hard surface, such as a desk, where the sound can bounce off it.  But still an area of weakness for this particular model.  While I am mentioning the audio jack, it is a standard 3.5 mm jack that can take a headphone-only plug, or a combined headphone and mic plug. If you want to use a headset when using Handouts you need this type of combined plug; there is not a separate audio and mic jack as you will find on most laptops and desktops.


I said I was going to start mentioning how I am transitioning to only (less gaming) using the Chromebook, but is is getting late and I will save it for the next entry.  Suffice to say it is going smoothly and have only reached for my tablet to check if I was forgetting to use something (and then find a corresponding application on Chrome) or to upload files to Drive.  Until next time, and don’t forget to +1, share this around, and leave feedback.

created - on an Acer C7 Chromebook, using Google Docs

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