Best Chromebook

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bdwoolman

For travel I still use my upgraded EEEpc 900 with Linux (It is actually quite useable since I installed a new much faster ssd). Why for travel? Small form factor, solid-state storage durability, and low monetary value. I actually just pack it in my checked luggage to avoid the slight security hassle caused by a having computer. My phone and a real paper magazine or two is more than enough to entertain me on board.

When my netbook dies I will buy a Chromebook for the same reasons I bought the netbook in the first place -- small form factor chief among them. As long as it is functional for report writing and a few other low intensity activities I do not care very much about performance. Reliability? Damn straight I want that.

Frankly, I am not surprised by the popularity of Chromebooks. To my mind they are ideally suited for productive mobility. A Smartphone or tablet are each okay for a lot of stuff, but for protracted communications or any kind of production a small robust pc with a near full-size keyboard really fills the bill.

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AFDozerman

Well, this article got me interested, and here I am typing this from an old Atom-powered netbook running ChromiumOS. It's actually not all that bad.

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vrmlbasic

That the Chromebook's local processing power factors into an assessmen of them is a stunning failure IMO. Client-side processing is cheap, but it stands counter to the purpose of the Chromebook. Google has, and should devote, the resources to doing all computation and formatting in The Cloud. I'd like to see AMD get some Chromebook love but, honestly, if we're talking about putting it in for its gpucompute abilities then we're openly admitting that Google has failed.

Until the Atom processor from my 2010 netbook can provide an identical usage "experience" to a modern Haswell processor then Google has not accomplished its mission.

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AFDozerman

The web is becoming increasingly more saturated with processing-heavy Flash, HTML5, and Javascript; just look at the ads in this page (assuming you don't have adblock). They're everywhere and using CPU and GPU cycles more and more as they progress.

The dynamic content that is the norm in websites is becoming increasingly functional, too, to the point that one day in the future, I could see us using the web for 90% of our computing (yes, even the MaxPC power users). It's not like there isn't a good platform to build on. JS is a Bone Fide compiled language in most browsers and can be used to build almost anything that C can. Just look at this:

http://bellard.org/jslinux/

Yes, that is actually Linux ported to Javascript in all of its command-line glory, running full-featured in a browser. There are also some serious APIs for the web, too. WebCL, WebGL, Google's APIs, Yahoo's APIs, countless other third-party APIs, filesystem APIs, and a ton of other crap that I don't feel like typing right now all make JS an extremely capable language to code with.

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Cregan89

You couldn't be more wrong. The purpose of the Chromebook is not to be a "thin-client". The purpose of the Chromebook is to run a pure HTML5 software environment. HTML5's API is still in the early stages, but besides a steadily shrinking list of specific limitations, HTML5 is just as capable as any other native application platform, with the added benefit that it is a royalty-free open standard that is also probably the most cross-platform compatible virtual machine in history. That HTML5 is the progression of a markup language used for linked documents across the web only lends to HTML5's suitability to seamlessly connect with services in the cloud, making it the ideal platform of mankinds "always-connected" future.

Chromebooks may be "ahead of their time", but HTML5 provides all of the API's necessary for developers to create completely offline applications, GPU accelerated 3D environments, powerful audio layer control, device programming and control, file and individual byte/bit manipulation, store and access files from the hard drive, network sockets, the list goes on...

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gordonung

Well, Chromebooks are thinner clients, but not true thin clients. But this also reenforces the reason we exist. That fantasy where all of your video encoding is done in the cloud, the game rendered on a GPU and then streamed to you so all you have to do is buy a thin client VT100 terminal once and never again is just a fantasy. I think there's a reason the PC rebellion happened over main frames and mini's of the time -- local control and power.

 

In the Chromebook's case, people are unhappy with their ARM Chromebooks for performance reasons (I think it's passable for medium to light duties). Will we ever get to the point where even a company such as Google will really throw around the compute resources you would demand to do everything on their side of the pipe? Or will the future usage models meter the compute performance you have  consumed? Old timers may remember the mini/main frames that would give you summary of how much compute your screwing around on the teletype terminal used. Even worse, you're running too many browser windows doing too many compute intense chores--legacy Flash game detected!--throttle.

 

I guess that's when you bust out that old FX-8350 you had hidden in your garage and plug in a power hungry '13 GPU at 1,000 watt PSU. All you have to is put a Pursuit sticker on the back of the case and, wait, this is starting to seem too much like Mad Max. 

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Gikero

I think the idea of a Chromebook is really interesting. I wouldn't buy one though. I don't have a need. Was considering putting Chromium OS on a few old laptops for light usage. The school district here has hundreds of them. I've asked my younger siblings and a few high school students what they thought of them. Everything has been negative. I was legitimately surprised. But, I haven't used one myself as of yet.

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lifeboat

"top four spots"

Should be "four of the top five spots"

"four of the top four spots"

Should be "four of the top five spots"

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jimmthang

We're not mathmeticians, dang it! :P

JK, and thanks for the catch!

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Richardbs

I've been considering getting a chromebook as a light work laptop. I have this large 17.3 inch laptop that I can actually play games on, but I'd like to leave at home since my job is "on call" so-to-speak. Can't be in the middle of a raid in WoW if an issue pops up. I pretty much just browse the internet at work or do simple word/spreadsheet documents, so I wouldn't mind a decent little laptop with a great battery life. And for most of them running well under $300? That's just downright sexy lol. Sounds like a good personal christmas gift

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legionera

Not trying to change your opinion, but for the same price you would get an atom with W7 starter that is more capable than this.

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gordonung

Chromebooks are truly today's thin clients though. I honestly don't think they go head-to-head for traditional 'thick full featured clients' such as a Bay Trail hybrid device Windows device or even an Android/iOS tablet.

They are certainly an aquired taste but they do have their ups. You can buy the new 2GB version of the C720 for $199 and use it to knock around with. Get robbed or lost and you don't care. Like thin clients of the olden days, nothing is stored locally. 

It's also handy for going to a high security risk country where there is a chance you could be targeted for corporate espionage. You definately don't want to bring your company notebook with all of its secrets even if it's encrypted to those countries.

 

But yeah, I have to admit, forpure capability, a Bay Trail powered Windows 8 (hate all you want, it runs better on thinner hardware than Win7) is prefered. 

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Baer

As I said, if it is cheap enough it will find a market but there are those that are buying them on price that have no idea how limited they are.

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gordonung

True, but I haven't seen any reports talking about excessively high returns on Chromebooks from OEMs. If Chromebooks are selling as well as it seems (top spot on Amazon means they're moving) then you'd expect really high returns if people were really unhappy with them. That makes me think people are keeping them. Honestly, they are pretty low maintenance -- even lower than iOS and Android since the functionality is so limited.

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jason2393

For $200 I got a Chromebook that lightened my load for traveling to school. It lets me take notes in all my classes, browse the web in an experience that's 99% identical to that on my laptop, check my e-mail, side-load Ubuntu for some gaming and apps, and dial in to my computer at home for Windows applications. Is it limited? Sure, but it was only $200. If I want to keep taking my laptop to school, I'd need a new screen, new battery (or two), and a new back to hold the additional weight.

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Baer

As I have said previously, Chromebooks MEH, even at $10 they are so "who cares" The best thing in this article is the great description "Browser in a box"
I actually know someone who bought one because they thought is was a great deal on a notebook and then the wondered why they could not install their programs.... Make the price low enough on anything, even if it is useless and some people will buy it.
MEH!

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PCWolf

I don't know anybody who owns a Chromebook.

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AFDozerman

As many as have been selling, I have yet to see one in the wild out here in Vegas. Are they selling in one region more than others?

As a sidenote, I was wondering if there are any AMD Chromebooks in the works? Flash and HTML5 are both GPU accelerated in Chrome IIRC, so a Kaveri or Puma based implementation would make sense in the long run.