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News NetworkTop Five Reasons NOT to buy a 'Chromebook'

Top Five Reasons NOT to buy a 'Chromebook'

By Billy Moffat (14/05/2011)1101 words
Tagged: editoria, technology

After nearly two years of development since it was first announced by Google, the Chromebook running Chrome OS is finally official. To celebrate, here are a list of reasons to avoid it, at least for now.

5. ZOMG GOOGLEZ GOING TO ST33L MY STUFF AND ST4LK M333!!!!

Satire of egotistical people who actually think a multinational corporation gives two *expletives* about their favourite porn site aside, privacy is a concern - but not from Google. You are not only encouraged, but almost forced to use a cloud storage service for your files. Unfortunately there is no API for the file manager to integrate into a service (may I suggest Dropbox, even if you are using Windows or Mac) - and this could be confronting to the technologically-inept. Even for someone who knows what they're doing, it can be very difficult and cumbersome to try and keep track of where all of your data is. Sure, it's in the "cloud", but the cloud is a much larger place than our local hard drives. You have a near-infinite number of websites that will happily hold your data (many will hold it all for a small fee), and your data is only as secure or as private as the service you are using. While some like Google, Amazon and Dropbox can be trusted, for now Google is forcing consumers to investigate the wild. There needs to be a default manager for the average consumer. Also, for a medium to big business it is very unlikely they would want to store their data on the servers of another company.

4. It's more overpriced than a Mac... almost.

In fact, the netbook I bought roughly 10 months ago is just as powerful as the top-of-the-line Chromebook and I paid $300. Sure it CAME with Windows XP and the webcam is lower quality - but hey, with a Chromebook you can only use your webcam for video calls online. Nobody will get to see your beautiful HD display anyway, because even if your internet were fast enough, I'm fairly sure the processor would make the frame rate as slow as that old woman in front of you at Woolworths. You know the one... every time. But back to the original point, the only things it can do that a regular netbook can't do is 3G radio (which you need to pay on a plan to use anyway) and HD webcam (explained above. Oh, the top row of the keyboard is also more user friendly for internet stuff I suppose. More importantly though, there are a lot of things it can't do. The most obvious is Skype. While most desktop applications have a web-based version you can use (even if they are a bit slow and clunky by comparison), there doesn't seem to be a viable (or at least well-known) video conference call tool that is based in a web-browser. Also, while Chrome OS has a media player, with its tiny built-in hard drive, it would probably make more sense to just get your media fix on YouTube if you don't have a REAL computer handy.

3. It's the worst of both worlds in form.

Chromebooks are quite limited in functionality to basically everything that a tablet can do (web-based). While they still have a keyboard and mouse so you can get work done (unlike a tablet that is mostly either a toy or at most a small supplementary device you carry when you're just going to be reading the PDF rather than writing it) - it's unlikely you'll be buying a tiny laptop that's LIMITED to the "cloud" for productivity. Also, unlike a tablet, it doesn't have a fancy touch-screen. (Note: Google plans to ship Chrome OS on tablets in the next few months, which will be better, but Android can access all of the same things on the internet and you also get over 200,000 applications to work with). Basically, it targets a market that shouldn't theoretically be interested.

2. In any sort of apocalypse that destroys cellular towers or local internet exchanges (any good apocalypse), it will be a shiny paperweight.

This is of course opposed to Apple Macbooks, that are already of course shiny paperweights. While everybody thinks "the apocalypse isn't going to happen to me", it's just like sex-ed when you were 15 in that buying a Chromebook is like having Russian roullette with unprotected sex. But seriously, it is of much concern that at least for now, there is no offline support. Sure, you can use Google Docs offline now, but each application needs to be coded for offline use and that takes the only advantage of web apps away. As long as you have Wi-Fi or at least 3G reception you're good, but there's no fall-back if you have no internet. Everybody probably knows the frustration when the internet stops working for even half an hour and you need to find something else to do (even if it's just solitaire or doodling in paint) - with a Chromebook it will be more or less useless until you get a signal again.

1. It's actually cheaper to get a Windows 7 netbook.

Sure this is kind of the same as #4, but it is definitely worth mentioning again. It makes absolutely no sense that someone would buy a Chromebook that is a stripped down (to the point of crippled) version of Linux running Google Chrome for $400 when they can buy a netbook running Windows 7 for less than $300 with the same specs. It makes no sense that it is more expensive either. Chrome OS is open source and based on Linux, which is also open source. Both of these are free to download and install on your computer. Windows 7 does everything software-wise and limits you only to your hardware - meaning short of running a high-detail 3D game, doing raw video rendering, calculating prime numbers above a billion, or not feeling cramped when you type - you can do everything possible on a full-size laptop. Best of all, you can run the latest version of Chrome within Windows 7 and be able to do absolutely everything a Chromebook can do. Sure, you'll need to wait an extra 15 seconds to turn it on (unless you put it into sleep mode in which case both are near-instant) - but you won't feel like you're trying to swim with your legs and arms tied together behind your back when it's finished booting.

Next... Top 5 500 reasons not to buy an iPad. LOL jk, does it even need saying?

Author - Billy Moffat (thumbnail)
Author - Billy Moffat
Owner and sole developer of Meercat9.com, he attends university full time but has a passionate addiction to the internet, particularly programming. Due to the lack of other developers for the site, he is often forced to write about himself in the third person.