In continuing with my experience report, regarding Chrome OS, I’m making an update with a general impression 2 weeks later.
It’s actually been a bit longer than two weeks since I first booted up my Chromebook. To be perfectly honest, in that time I have had no occasion to boot up my Windows Desktop, and my iPad usage and dropped significantly as well. I find my Android Phone and Chromebook to be my two most used tools, at present.
I have been relying primarily on Google Hangouts and Gmail, as I always have, so this part is easy. I get my SMS messages through Hangouts as well, so everything is quite centralized for me.
I have done video Hangouts with several people, including multiple Hangouts on Air sessions and have not experienced any lag on the $260 ASUS Chromebook. At this pricepoint, such performance in live video is fairly impressive, as my Mother’s All-in-One Windows HP demonstrated a worse experience, with (of course), much more generous computing power available to it.
I do frequently find myself on Facebook for Messaging as well, which has proven lag free on the Chromebook. Overall, my communication habits have been unaffected, and if anything, slightly more pleasant.
Note: The state of Skype on Chromebook is still pending proper resolution. There are options, but I assume this will take care of itself in time. I don’t care much for Skype, so it’s not impacting me much.
This can be a tricky one, as some folks rely particularly strongly, on specific apps for Office, Collaboration, and Task Management. As long as you are willing to modify your habits, this is not a problem on a Chromebook, but don’t expect to be able to do things the way you’ve always done, on a Chrome OS device, if you were not accustomed to doing everything in the Chrome browser in the first place.
Personally, I rely on a combination of Google Calendar, Keep, Now, Trello, and Drive. I find that this approach suits my lifestyle and does not slow me down in any way. It is consistent across my 3 primary devices (Android Phone, Chromebook, and iPad), so it is very holistic and accessible.
Other productivity apps like Workflowy, Evernote, Wunderlist, and more provide a wide variety of options for your lifestyle. Essentially, this is one of the strongest aspects of the mobile experience right now, across all devices.
For me, work entails Graphic Design, Programming, file management, training videos, and occasionally creating videos.
On the Graphic Design front, things are workable, but not really up to snuff. This will change when Streaming Photoshop becomes available for public consumption, but for the time being I am limited to a few apps. Pixlr, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to work on my Chromebook, which is my preferred web photo editor. Gimp runs, via rollApp, and performs reasonably. It’s good in a pinch, but lackluster for heavy use as it can be a bit laggy and interferes with the Chromebook’s normal keyboard shortcuts. DeviantArt’s Muro, and PicMonkey are also fairly decent tools.
Programming is quickly coming to speed, at least for Web Development, thanks to the ever increasing functionality of Web-IDE solutions like Nitrous.io, Codenvy.com, c9.io, and more. Nitrous.io is my favorite of the bunch at present, providing me with configurable VPS options (including free boxes for sandbox coding), a working and quick terminal (that isn’t very limited), and easy configuration for collaboration and instant environment setups (Ruby on Rails, good to go!) It’s difficult to say whether or not these solutions are ready for the professional web developer at large, but I think they are certainly contender worthy at this point, and eventually, I agree with Codenvy’s founder, that they will surpass Desktop solutions in pretty much every regard.
File Management is the easy one. Of course efficiency of moving large files is based largely on your internet speed, but the easy of sharing and organizing through Google Drive and Dropbox is just a joy at this point. Having well over a terabyte of space at my disposal, I have no worries when it comes to storing data or sharing it with others. Drive allows me to link people to files, collaborate with them, or attach massive files to emails far more quickly than I could do any of these things on a Desktop machine (presuming Drive is not being used there).
Video Editing and Training Videos. This is a mixed bag that is mostly rough. When it comes to video recording and editing, Youtube is really the best thing happening, but it is minimally effective in regards to video professionalism. You can get basic recording, editing, and screencasting happening here, but don’t expect the out of programs like Camtasia. Chromebook just isn’t there. And due to limited space, when working with video, you are streaming that data constantly, so the process isn’t very fluid (yet). Honestly, for the time being, I am still recording and editing my videos on my iPad, which as far as a mobile device is concerned, performs quite well for my purposes.
That’s it for this round of Chromebook impressions. So far I’m quite happy with my low-power, high-battery-life solution. I feel more mobile, less cluttered, and generally enjoy using it. And I still don’t regret selling my Windows laptop!