Chris Richards

marketing | branding | tech | startups


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Chromecast: A Modern Media Consumer’s Dream

A while back when Google’s Chromecast was announced, I didn’t immediately understand it’s purpose. Fast forward to now, and I couldn’t more highly recommend any gadget for the price. Should you buy one too? Without hesitation.

Chromecast HDMI dongle

In case you haven’t noticed, TV these days is terrible. Even with hundreds of cable channels, there’s rarely anything on worth watching when you want to watch. With Chromecast, I’ve exponentially increased my viewing options, and the reality has only just sunken in. Things like full National Geographic documentaries are now at my fingertips, ready to cast right onto the TV in full HD. With so much content on YouTube, this $35 device literally opened up a new world of watching, and I find myself using it more and more.

It may seem silly and lazy, but the way this little “dongle” immediately turns on – it automatically switches to its  input as soon as you tell it to cast a video – just totally improves the experience of online video watching. And it’s amazing how much more enjoyable watching something on the TV is compared to the confines of a small laptop of phone screen.

Chromecasting National Geographic in HD for Free!

Better yet, it makes the experiencing of finding a video or something to watch a more social experience. The way someone else can grab control and “cast” their own content up onto the screen, makes searching for/finding videos an activity in its own right.

Does the device still have some flaws? Of course, the full-screen tab casting could be greatly improved, but so far the app experience (YouTube and Netflix) has been nearly flawless. But like the Chromebook, I can’t wait to see how this gadget gets updated. With time, it’s bound to become an even more useful component in the modern media consumer’s arsenal.

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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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Representing Android in an Apple World

Working in the marketing and advertising industry, Apple is everywhere. As it should  be. There’s no doubt that Macs are great computers for design and development, and iPhones are perfectly decent phones. But, as a recent hire at my agency, I began looking for a way to represent my unique love for Android, and to stand out in such a Mac-heavy, iPhone-loving office. I think this little Android figurine did just the trick!

Android Robot Figure vs. Mac Computer

Thanks to Marques Brownlee for inspiring me to get this little guy. You can always spot the little ‘Droids like this special Nexus black one in his awesomely-produced video reviews, and I immediately thought of Marques’ videos when shopping around for something to display Android pride. So, I guess this is just really one big shout-out to him – thanks, MKBHD!

Wearing an android robot t-shirt would be another way to show pride, but that might be taking it a bit far.