Life with Chromebook ep. 1: first 6 hours

Please ignore the MagSafe charger behind…

A year and a half ago, I wrote an article here on my experience with a Chromebook (kinda), and now, I finally got my hands on an actual Chromebook, and this is my experience in the first 24 hours.

Why I bought it in the first place?

It is super cheap. I got it for €140 on eBay (shipping included)! Honestly I did not exactly thought this through, and I don’t exactly have plans for this laptop and how it will co-exist with my 11" MacBook Air. I desperately need a new laptop (you can also read my experience on buying and returning the new MacBook Pro with TouchBar here), and I guess I was hoping this cheap laptop can help take some workload from the MBA.

Which Chromebook did you get?

It’s the MEDION Akoya S2013. ARM CPU, 2GB RAM, 11.6" screen, it can’t really get worse than this in 2017. The unit I got is not exactly brand new, and the seller calls it B-Ware (not sure if that is a German term or just something that seller made up), and apparently it has been open but it is still new.

Surprisingly decent keyboard

What do I like about the hardware?

The keyboard is definitely the best thing about this device, by just being normal. No fancy switches to make it thin, no special keys that have no reason to exist, etc. It is just a boring keyboard without backlight, and that is fine.

What do I like about the software?

After a year and a half, I can definitely see a bunch of improvements from Google: the UI and UX make a lot more sense in a lot of places, and everything else that makes Chrome OS great are still here, such as simplicity, quick boot up time, regular and seamless update, etc.

Dat viewing angle…

What do I dislike about the hardware?

Both the trackpad and the screen are pretty terrible. I am completely expecting the screen to be not good, and after months of using the company cheap Lenovo laptop with also very crappy screen, I get used to it. But the trackpad is kind of disappointing: I have heard a bunch of great responses from other Chromebook reviews in the past about the trackpad, but I guess it does not work well on this particular Chromebook because it is way too cheap to get those hardware (and possibly software optimizations).

What do I dislike about the software?

Of course the biggest pain point of using Chrome OS is the software limitation, and that is of course the biggest issue. I did not expect to run apps locally (at least not yet according to Chromium team’s schedule), it’s just that I just reminded myself that most alternatives for my work tools are not as good as I hope they could be. That’s why I still have my MBA around.

What’s next?

So now it’s getting late, and I am going to rest. I will probably write ep. 2 after a few days, and by then I can focus more on using it outside (after all this is still a laptop), from battery life to offline capabilities. And in maybe a month or so I might do a more thorough review of the hardware, and see how is it possible to sell a acceptable laptop in €140!

Louis Tsai

Louis Tsai

if someone can give me a lesson of how to adult that’d be great thank you.
Berlin