Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Chrome OS and Chromebook Pixel

I have been a Chromebook fan since day one. When I'm at home, the Chromebook gets most of my computing time.  I happened to receive one of the beta CR-48 devices, as far as Chromebooks go, it has minimal specs. Even with minimal specs it handles most things well enough. When the first Chromebooks came out with a price tags of $500 to $600 I was a little torn over the pricing. I found it hard to recommend paying full computer pricing for a computer that wasn't a full computer.  Pricing wasn't enough for me not to be a fan of the Chromebook.  Time has passed and the list of things you can't do with a Chromebook is shorter, and a second generation of cheaper Chromebooks hit the market.  The combination of these two factors meant to me that I would strongly consider buying a Chromebook at some point to replace my beloved CR-48.

Chrome OS has greatly improved in look, feel, and usability over the last two years. One of the great things about having a Chromebook is how Chrome OS is silently improving in the background.  I don't have to worry about service packs or going out to buy the next version of an OS.  Chrome OS does it's best to make you forget its there, and let you focus on using your device for what you want to do. Chrome OS is basically zero maintenance, from a systems administration standpoint, this is a big win. Chrome OS is inherently designed to be secure and by design it's not as prone to the typical virus attacks that Windows machines are.  Chrome OS also doesn't have Java so that also removes one big attack vector that has been causing problems lately.

I like my CR-48, I still use it almost daily, and odds are if I didn't use it, it was because I didn't use a computer while I was at home that day. Hardware wise there are three things about the CR-48 that I would have really liked.  I wanted a faster CPU, more RAM, and a back lit keyboard.  I tend to have a lot of tabs open, and the limited CPU and RAM doesn't leave a lot of resources extra tabs. Any other Chromebook that can be bought have a faster CPU so I don't have to worry about that a lot.  In the RAM department, 2GB is rather standard, with one model having 4GB.  The only down side was the one for 4GB of RAM was also $200 more than the models with 2GB of RAM.

Getting past RAM and CPU, I tend to use my Chromebook in lots of different areas, and many times I wish I had a backlit keyboard.  None of the Chromebooks offered a backlight on the keyboard so no matter how much I wanted it, I wasn't getting it.

A couple weeks ago now, Google announced a premium Chromebook called the Chromebook Pixel. The Pixel is clearly a high end power user Chromebook.  The moment I saw the pictures and specs, I wanted one.  I was ready to buy and figure out how to pay for it later, but then I got to the price tag and had a little bit of sticker shock.  I was hoping for less than $700 and it turns out to be $1300.  For me I can't justify $1300 on an impulse buy, but the Pixel does have everything I want in a Chromebook plus a few more things.  I would be perfectly willing give up the high resolution touchscreen in favor of a much more average panel without touch if they could take $700 off the price.

This really does leave my torn between envy and budget. It seems like new Chromebooks are hitting the market on a regular basis so for now I'm just going to wait and see how long I can make the CR-48 last.  Hopefully the perfect Chromebook for me will hit the market before my CR-48 dies. If my CR-48 dies, I'm defiantly going to replace it with a newer Chromebook, at this point I just have to wait and see if it will be a device currently on the market or some new device that meets my demands with a price tag I can justify.

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