What is a Chromebook and why you should buy one

I just got a new Chromebook — this last weekend. It was as impromptu a buy as anything can be. While it was not an absolute necessity as much as personal requirement was concerned, it’s a buy that I knew I will not regret about. Add to it the cost factor — this specific store in the city was giving it out on a flat 50% rebate (which led me to ask them the reason, being surprised) — their stock clearance sale, seemingly. And no doubt they got a satisfied customer.

Why Chromebook? Why did I even think of getting one?

Earlier when this friend asked about a Chromebook, I readily dismissed the idea — saying it’s not worthy enough. To my mistake, I had this preconceived notion that the Chromebook was still a 2012 / 2013 system, where the number of points against it triumphs the number of positive points for it. I was not enough updated and hence, the dismissal — I admit.

On last Saturday afternoon, during a casual browsing session, the Amazon.in home page was showing an offer on a Chromebook — a Nexian Chromebook that they were selling in 12k INR. The price caught my eye, and led me to think — what’s special about a notebook / laptop that comes in such a low price? What’s so special about it that Google has not stopped updating its series of chromebooks? And why would the hardware companies build and try to sell one in this price range? The inquisitiveness was an eye opener.

Later that evening, after a sudden urge to receive some good, old retail therapy — we visited the store at around 9PM IST. Our plan was to buy a different model that comes in the price range we looked about. Seldom did we know about the sale in the store. The deal was so good that we were confused why they would be giving it out. Some further deliberation with the store managers divulged that it was a stock clearance sale from their side because they won’t be keeping any Chromebook in the future.

If you ask me the reasons,

1. Very few people are comfortable enough to come out of the cocoon of the Windows OS or the Mac OSX. Macbook users anyway won’t be thinking of switching to a Chromebook — exceptional cases being with overt fanboy / fangirl of Google.

2. The lack of exposure about how Chromebook is not about 100% online usage. Given no network access, your Chromebook can still run like a normal laptop with more and more offline access to Chrome apps. You just need to know how to set that up.

3. A Chromebook has lesser RAM and harddisk space just because it’s not meant to have it that way. Talking of RAM, the target user is supposed to use online services using Google Chrome browser most of the times and a good Chromebook shall be able to manage it well even if there are few or more tabs open.

I shall recommend you get a Chromebook for yourself ONLY if,

1. You don’t have to worry about how much data you are going to lose if your current laptop dies out tomorrow. Or maybe tonight.

Because you have all your data backed up in one or few of the cloud services out there, most prominently in Google Drive. Since the Chromebook is a Google product, no wonder Google Drive is their preferred way to go.

2. You don’t have to worry about how you had so many important bookmarks in your now-passe old laptop, and how you will be super unproductive for the next few days or months in your workplace just because you lost them all and have to create them from scratch.

Because you have all your bookmarks synced with your Google account. Whenever and wherever you sign in to a new Chrome browser, those sync automatically.

3. You have your own online business or run one or multiple websites, need to write new posts, update old ones — that is, be online most of the times of the day.

You might not be ready for a jump to a Chromebook right at this moment, but here are few pointers that might come handy if you plan to do so in the next few months to a year.

To be ready to start using a Chromebook,

1. Go Google. Go cloud. If you are a serious internet user and don’t only use it to watch Youtube videos or download movies from Torrent or shop from Amazon or Flipkart, you should be aware of this and you should know how important it is right at this time to ‘go cloud‘.

2. What do I mean when I say ‘Go cloud’?
When I say ‘Go cloud’, I simply mean how you can have all or most of your data backed up in the various cloud data services and access them from anywhere and from any type of system you want to. This is what I meant when I mentioned above that you should not be worried about the amount of data that you might have to lose if your laptop dies on you tonight.

An important aspect of going cloud is the perfect sync between all your devices. I understand you don’t want to lose all your important documents, all the images and videos you received or sent or shot on your phone. Losing them all in one go sounds like losing few days or months from your life. And you definitely don’t want that. Your strategy to ‘go cloud’ should also include setting up this perfect sync between all your devices.

3. So, how to go cloud?
We, as service receivers, are spoilt these days. So much so that we take everything for granted and jump on to judge without even using a service. That does sound like talking about the mankind in general but it applies to people’s approach towards new technology also. We dismiss cloud services as something that won’t be secure enough for us.

And saying that, we click on the link on Facebook that promises to share the latest Hollywood or Bollywood gossip or the cheapest deal in a shopping portal. Novice move? You bet!

Currently, the most used / trusted cloud services are,

1. Google Drive (Google’s own)
2. Dropbox
3. Box
4. One Drive (Microsoft’s)
5. iCloud (Apple’s)

Among these, Google Drive and Dropbox are the most used, most secure and most trusted services, whereas Box comes a close third. iCloud is costly and using it makes sense if only you have all Apple devices.

Among the top two, Google Drive is the one most important service here. Since it’s Google’s own, that becomes the repository for your data when you start using a Chromebook.

For starters, download and install the Google Drive application and create folders like — Music, Movies, Photos, Personal documents, etc. And similar to how you store your data in your Windows system, store your data in the folders. Once you sync the data, head over to drive.google.com and login with the same Gmail id and see all of your data there.

And that’s how you have your corner set up in the cloud!

Yes, I just got a new Chromebook for myself. And I suggest you get one too.

Cross-posted on bastabchakraborty.com