Chris Richards

marketing | branding | tech | startups


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Is the Google Chromebook Pixel Worth the Price?

As Google continues to step into the hardware space, they’ve introduced us to a “beast” of a device, the Chromebook Pixel. Now that it’s available for the public to buy from Amazon, the question is: “Is the Pixel worth the heft price tag?”

Chromebook Pixel - Verge Review - Worth it?

To me, the value of a Chromebook running Google’s operating system comes from the low price tag. Each original Chromebook was below $300 at launch – The Samsung, Acer, and even HP Chromebooks all provide value because of their reasonable price tags. But, at over $1,500 the Pixel absolutely negates that value. As I said in my post, Why Buy a Samsung Chromebook, the number one reason is price.

Though I am intrigued by the seemingly amazing build quality of the Pixel, I don’t think the price is justified. The 2560 x 1700 pixel resolution is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but when I’ve found the Chrome OS to be most valuable for browsing, blogging, and casually watching video, I don’t think users will be able to fully take advantage of all the pixels at their disposal.

What really intrigues me is the fact that Google is producing high quality hardware. I’d love to see more Google computer options if the Pixel is any sign of what they’re capable of producing. One satisfied reviewer on Amazon even said: “Build quality. Apple has nothing on this machine in terms of build quality. It is solid. In terms of build quality and materials, it is equal to a MacBook Pro and better than my HP Elitebook. Solid quality.”

What do you think? Anyone out there satisfied with the Pixel even with its high price?

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Why Buy a Samsung Chromebook?

I won’t hide it. I love the Samsung Chromebook. But, now that I’ve owned one for a little while now, I want to reiterate why someone (should they be looking) would want to buy the 11.6″ Samsung Chromebook. I’ll make this easy and break it down into a few reasons for you.

Samsung Chromebook - Why You Need to Buy One

1. The Price: Too Good to Be True

When I tell people that my laptop was only $250, their jaws drop. Some iPods are more expensive. In fact, at a price this low, the Samsung Chromebook can almost be considered an “impulse buy” that’s under that expected computer price tag of at least $500.

It amazes me that students these days will spend $1,500 + on a Macbook Pro to take to college to 1.) Write papers 2.) Check email 3.) Check Facebook or 4.) Browse Reddit, when they could easily turn all that money into beer money by investing in the Samsung Chromebook.

2. It’s a Tablet, But Better

Tablets have come and gone. At first there was the iPad, then the slew of Android tablet versions came. I’ve let all of them pass me by; I’ve never been interested. Tablets don’t make sense to me. They have a lot of potential, theoretically, but are ultimately held back by the lack of keyboard in my opinion. When I want to “compute,” I want to type. Most things involve typing – checking email, Facebook, blogging, chatting, searching. Some people don’t mind not having a keyboard, so what else make this Chromebook like a tablet, but better?

  • Battery life: I typically get at least 7 hours of it. I can charge it once at the beginning of the week, and use it a little bit every day at work and be fine. The auto-dimming screen is great for extending the life, and obviously a lack of moving parts keeps battery life going strong.
  • Instant on: Okay, it’s not instant. But from fully off, to up and logged-in, the Chromebook takes less than 10 seconds. I routinely turn it off (unlike my other computers) because it’s not a hassle to open the lid and boot it up. I love it.
  • Portability: There’s no difference between carrying an 11.6″ Chromebook and carrying an iPad or another tablet. Both slip easily into a backpack, purse, or protective case. So, the real question is, would you rather like to carry around a device that can conduct business as usual in a PC-like environment, or would you like to poke around on a glamorized iPhone? (Harsh, I know.)

3. It’s Always Updated, Always Getting Better

Seriously. I just had to restart while typing this because Google released an update to Chrome, and by extension, the Chrome OS that runs Samsung’s Chromebook. Because the OS is managed by Google, you know that innovation is never far. New features are only weeks away, and you never know what improvements will be made.

In the short time that I’ve owned it, Google has added tons of slight improvements, but also some major updates such as Netflix compatibility. For $250, you get a lifetime of Google innovations and updates. Not many other operating systems (especially not Windows) offer such an attractive upgrade plan for free. Just like on Android, Google passes its value on through system updates.

4. Run Windows, Mac OS, or Linux Easily

I was shocked to learn about this functionality, but anyone that “nay-says” the Chromebook’s capability hasn’t been exposed to this feature. With Chrome Remote Desktop, I can easily access any computer I connect to, adding its capabilities directly to my Chromebook. It’s amazing. At work, I can connect to our Macs, run Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, etc. At home, I can connect to my PC and take on any of its software capabilities too. Really, it’s the best of all worlds, as remote desktop adds infinite functionality to this tiny, inexpensive device.

I could go on, but I think I’ll leave it there. The Samsung Chromebook has been a phenomenal purchase. At only $250, I cannot recommend a more full-featured and portable device. I took it around the world, and loved having it all along the way.

 


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Flying Around the World with Google

After waiting for a delayed flight in Philadelphia for over 5 hours, I was really loving my new Samsung Google Chromebook (oh, and the free airport wifi) as a travel companion. Having just gotten the computer during the holidays, I saw my trip to Tasmania, Australia as a way to test-run the new little machine’s capabilities and put it through the paces of international travel, airports, and hot-spots. In the end, I was not disappointed at all with how well the device worked for travel, and how well Google’s products complimented my journey.

The first perk of traveling with the Chromebook I experienced was the free in-fllight wifi offered by GoGo. With 12 free passes to use on domestic flights, my plane to LA was the perfect chance to try logging in from 27,000 feet up. It worked perfectly. As the first time using wifi on a plane, it was all very novel to me, but very natural too. Up in the air, you seem closer to the “internet gods” or something…either way, I was checking email and Facebook with no problem, and would not have experienced that had it not been for the free passes packaged with the Chromebook.

Chromebook free inflight wifi gogo

The free wifi pass worked perfectly on my flight.

Then, most obviously, the small form factor of Google’s device was a blessing while navigating airports. While making connections and waiting for flights, it was easy to whip out the computer and log in for a minute. Oh yeah, and while sending it through security scanners, the workers had to send it through a couple times just because they didn’t believe it was a laptop: “That doesn’t look like a laptop’s insides to me!” one said.

The battery life was another major plus. Even after many hours in airport cafes, the thing still had a charge. I’ve never had a laptop that could last more than 3 or 4 hours, so this felt pretty good.

The combination of the Chromebook and my Galaxy Nexus phone felt like Google heaven while traveling. I’ve never felt so in sync with technology, and they just worked well together. During a day-long layover in LA, Google Now kindly prompted me about my upcoming flight time, the traffic in LA, and the local weather.

Better yet, while in Australia, Google recognized my new location and prompted me with awesomely useful Google Now cards. As you’ll see above, it showed me the currency conversion rate between the US and AUD, the time at home, and the current weather in Australia.

There’s not really much else to say other than that my two Google devices worked together seamlessly during my trip. They were portable, powerful, and just what I needed to stay in touch back home.


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Samsung vs. Acer: Chromebooks

So, I did end up getting a Chromebook. Well, technically, I didn’t get it right away. But I did receive an “IOU” from my father as a great Christmas present this year. Though I’ve already mentioned that the Samsung model was higher on my priority list, both it and the Acer are very similar in terms of specs.

So, my willpower was tested today as I browsed Best Buy’s selection only to find the Acer in stock. I was tempted to snatch one up and take it home, instead of waiting for the Samsung to be restocked, but I resisted for a few reasons.

Chromebooks: Samsung vs AcerWhen it comes down to it, the Samsung Chromebook provides far better value than the Acer. Engadget breaks down the differences quite nicely, but I’ll summarize my thoughts here:

  • Most noticeably, the Acer looks cheap. It looks like a $200 device, whereas the Samsung looks like a high quality Macintosh-esque product. (+1 Samsung)
  • The Acer feels cheap. Touching it, the Acer feels like something out of the early 2000s or like an early Netbook. It has a dull gray, steel color that’s rough to the touch and feels chunky/bulky even if it is only a couple pounds. (+1 Samsung)
  • The Acer’s screen is glossy. The demo unit was covered in greasy finger prints and the gloss was not attractive at all. Again, the Samsung wins in the screen department with its soft matte finish and 1366 x 768 resolution. (+1 Samsung)
  • The Samsung has Bluetooth. Even though I don’t use it often, it seems like a good “future-proof” feature to include. (+1 Samsung)
  • The Acer has a 300+ gig hard drive, while the Samsung only has 15 gigs. (+1 Acer)
  • The Samsung has a solid state hard drive that makes it super speedy and attractive, even if it is a tad small. (+1 Samsung)
  • The Acer has a big vent down the left side which houses a traditional cooling fan. What is so cool about the Samsung is that it doesn’t have any moving parts. No fans, no moving parts. (+1 Samsung)

Maybe I’m a bit harsh on the Acer, but for $50 more (and a waitlist) to get the Samsung, the styling and functional benefits are clearly worth it. If this is my first  foray into the “cloud world” of Chromebooks, I want to do it well. I choose Samsung.

EDIT (1.15.2013): After using the Samsung Chromebook for over a week now, I noticed one thing right away. It scratches very easily! I carried it to in my regular backpack and took it out only to find some dark spots that seemed to be rubbed in from moving around in the bag slightly. My recommendation: Buy a small Caselogic protective cover if you want to be carrying this thing around.

EDIT (3.11.13): Great news for Chromebook owners – Netflix has been made officially compatible with the Samsung. Download the Netflix Chromebook App here and get watching! This was the only thing holding me back from recommending this device hands-down to everyone.