The Battle for Data - Why Chromebook is still Winning
|The Battle for Data - Why Chromebook is still Winning|
|What You're Getting|
Last fall I made the jump to a Chromebook from Google. At the time, the cheap Windows laptops were about $399 and when comparing to a $219 machine, there was really no comparison. I picked up a Samsung built unit that featured their entry-level dual-core Samsung Exynos processor that powered the 1366x768 screen for quite a few hours. I easily got 8 hours of battery life and it handled single tasks quite well. As time went on, I realized that this unit simply could not multi-task and if I was in a Google Hangouts call and tried to do anything else, I might as well give up and try again.
The CPU was too weak to handle what I hoped - but for ~$200, I couldn't really complain. The results I'd get for a sub $400 Windows machine wouldn't be that much better - at the time. The saving grace of the Samsung Chromebook was the free in-flight WiFi and the 100GB of extra Google Drive space. Both came in super handy when I flew to Florida for my cousins wedding and then to CES 2014 where it was invaluable for basic writing.
Fast forward about 9 months to the fall of 2014 and Microsoft and Intel got really aggressive with their entry-level notebooks. These little machines dropped in price, maintained decent specifications - really very similar to many Chromebooks and offered a full Windows 8.1 experience - for $50 to $100 more than the Chromebook I bought a year earlier. This made decisions hard for people looking to spend little on a machine they could take anywhere. On one hand, you have the convenience of the Google ecosystem on machines that are fast and just plain work. On the other hand you've got a full-on Windows machine that works with everything - albeit a lot slower.
Google took some time here and really did a horrible thing. About the time that Microsoft was really competing, Google decided to up the specifications of their new Chromebook machines and their partners started released machines that had similar specifications (Celeron, Atom, BayTrail, etc) processors that were priced more than their Windows counterparts. At this point, it made no sense at all to buy a Chromebook if you were looking for a basic machine and were on a tight budget. People flocked to Microsoft and their partners (and rightly so) as Microsoft started to sweeten the deal by including a full year of Office 365 which gave users an additional $50 - $75 value. Score one for Microsoft.
Google really had to start competing and they ended up encouraging their partners to drop the price of the new generation of Chromebooks to be a bit more competitive. Their partners responded and prices dropped to be about equal across the board. At this point, both basic machines with 2GB of DDR3, 16GB of storage, 1366x768 11-12-inch screens would set you back about $249 - $299. This still made the decision pretty hard for tech savvy users. Mainstream consumers had no issues picking their poison though and they'd still flock to Microsoft-powered machines as they are familiar.
Reason to Evolve:
We now fast forward another few months to October/November 2014. At this time, Microsoft has promised a full year of Office 365 as well as "unlimited" OneDrive storage and that makes a very compelling sale. For the $249 price tag, you can get a Quad-Core Atom/BayTrail machines with 2GB of RAM that is basically a large online netbook. Not a bad choice for a user that needs their files on the go and doesn't want to spend a ton on a machine. At this price, one of these machines are infinitely more useful than ANY pure tablet and really should be considered by anyone that does a lot of traveling.
Google, on the other hand really had to step up their game as well and in this updated Chromebook release, they have partnered with Intel (as usual) and NVIDiA to offer Tegra K1 Chromebooks. If you shop around, you can buy a Tegra K1 Chromebook with 2GB of DDR3, a full 1080p screen, 16GB of internal storage as well as the upgraded 1TB of Drive storage - for two years. Google is doing a great job of marketing this updated service as "Buy extra Google Drive storage, get a free Chromebook". This isn't their slogan specifically, but they've priced themselves right into this scenario - and it works.
Looking at the specifications of a new machine to take to CES this coming January, and looking at my current Google Drive usage, made me start to hunt for a new Chromebook. I use a lot of Google Drive space for photo backup, file sharing and collaborations at BCCHardware.com and I was sitting on the fence and about to buy extra Drive space. Instead, I picked up the Acer (model #) Chromebook and I am impressed. This machine is much more powerful, smoother, better built and features a way better screen than any affordable Chromebook I've used - and it is priced to sell.
This is a 13.3-inch unit that has the aforementioned 1920x1080 resolution and allows you to do everything that the ChromeOS will let you do - without slowdowns, issues, chugging, lagging or hunting for a plug-in. The battery life remains excellent and the overall experience is very good.