Originally posted on: November 23, 2012
I know that this isn’t my normal running related post, but I am also a bit geeky and many of us runners are on our computers a LOT. So I thought you might be interested in how I decided to get and what I think about my new Samsung Series 5 55o Chromebook (WiFi).
In part 1 I will go through my buying decision process and part 2 will be my initial thoughts about my new Chromebook.
Over the past couple of weeks you haven’t seen much of me on Twitter, Facebook or even Google+. Yes I have been doing my daily running updates and keeping up with other things, but I have invested a lot of time into figuring out which computer would be my next one.
A few weeks ago when I started using my almost 4 year-old MacBookPro full-time again, even though I had it repaired, it was still running like crap. This had been a big issue back in March/April, when the hard drive died and was the primary reason why I bought the Dell, instead of getting another Mac, that and the costs of buying one.
On top of everything I was getting extremely frustrated by my MacBookPro’s inability to run more than one program or have more than a couple of tabs open in Chrome, without vapor locking and having that damn spinning wheel of death go on for several minutes, while the computer was trying to get back to what I was doing.
This was happening several times an hour and was really putting a crimp in my computing style - it was also the big reason why I wasn’t participating in Twitter chats or contributing to other social media as usual - I was just too frustrated with the MBP’s inability to keep working properly, without the spinning beach ball being in my face.
At first I really thought that I was going to either go with a high-end Lenovo Convertible Laptop or an Apple iPad setup as I discussed in my I Need Your Help With A Technology Question.
However, when I sat down and discussed buying a new computer with TheWife (who has more common sense than I do). She made a couple of key observations that I needed to really think about.
What do I actually do with a computer?
Why Apple, when I haven’t had that great luck with their equipment and don’t agree with the direction they appear to be heading?
Another consideration was that either one of those two options was going to be rather expensive to have a setup the way I needed/wanted between the hardware and software/application costs. Plus when I looked back honestly, I was attempting to make the iPad into a laptop, instead of a tablet.
Those questions made me think about what I really did with a computer:
- Create blog posts
- Participate in social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and a few others)
- Play NeverWinter Nights
- Keep track of my running via Google Spreadsheet and websites
- Create short videos or vlogs
- Listen to Pandora
- Video Chat occasionally
- Photo Management
- Use it to manage my iPhone
- Watch videos
- Read eBooks
- Read/send email
When I stopped and looked at it, I don’t really use the computer for all that many higher-end functions, even though I seem to be on one all the time.
The next question I needed to answer was what software or applications do I use when I am on the computer?
- Chrome Browser - Yes I use Safari and Firefox once in a while, but I mostly do everything in Chrome
- iTunes - to manage my iPhone and music
- Evernote - my other memory
- Picasa - Photo Management & upload to Google+
- Janetta/TweetDeck - Twitter
- Google Docs/Page - Word Processing
- Preview or Adobe Acrobat Reader - PDF
- VLC/Quicktime - to view videos
- iMovie - Video Editing
- Kindle - to read eBooks
- NeverWinter Nights - Game
- DropBox/GoogleDrive - File syncing to the cloud
I don’t use the Mac’s Mail, Contacts or Calendar software, since I use the Google equivalents.
Looking at the Chromebook
When I sat down and really looked at what I use the computer for and the software/applications I use. The idea of using a Chromebook seemed more realistic and appealing. I decided that I needed to take another look at the Chromebooks, especially with the newest one that came out for $249 and was the number 1 selling laptop on Amazon.com.
Over a 3 day period, I did a LOT of research on the Chromebook computers and decided that they would do about 90% of what I wanted right now, at a much lower price. Yes I could have gone with a another cheap PC and been pretty satisfied, but I wanted something that was light and portable and all the cheaper PC’s seem to be 15 inch, which while portable, I got tired of them being in my lap and they get pretty warm too.
I wasn’t too keen on having to learn Windows 8 and still have the issues that Windows computers are notorious for, slow boot-ups/shut-down, viruses/malware, back-end management - well you get the picture. Also I really haven't been all that impressed with Apple's stuff, except for the iPhone (I know blasphemy, but...) their computers look great and work fine, but are not really all that differently than a PC.
The more I read about the Chromebook, the more they seemed like a solution to the way that I actually use a computer. I use Google products for a lot of what I do and am very happy with them. So even though I might have to figure out some work-arounds and change my mind set when it came to how I use my computer or managing my iPhone, photo/video management and a few other things, I decided that I wanted to go with a Chromebook.
Ordering a Chromebook
After making the decision, Sunday night I ordered the Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi, 11.6 Inch) Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi, 11.6-Inch) for $249.00. The hardest thing was finding someplace that actually had the new Samsung Chromebook in stock, it seems that they were selling out as fast as they got them in.
Unfortunately, I ran into a few glitches with where I ordered it from. So I cancelled the order Tuesday afternoon. After cancelling the order, I saw that Amazon had them in stock again, but by the time I ordered them, they were no longer in stock and the Chromebook I had ordered was now on backorder.
I took all this trouble with ordering/getting the new Samsung Chromebook as a sign that maybe it wasn’t the computer I needed. But I still wanted to have a Chromebook.
Because of this delay I really looked closely at the difference in the specs and reviews between the Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi, 11.6 ) and the Samsung Series 5 55o Chromebook (WiFi) which had come out earlier this spring.
When I did that I noticed several things that I really needed to look at more closely, especially the lack of an ethernet cable connection, 4GB of RAM, slightly larger screen size, etc. Also some benchmark tests that I had seen, indicated that the 550 seem to be a slightly better computer for the way I needed it to work, than the newer Chromebook and the differences were enough to make me re-think my choice.
Plus I have had good luck with Intel processors over the years.
The biggest question was whether or not these differences and having to wait on backorder for the new Chromebook were enough to justify the almost $200 extra, it would cost to get the 550.
My gut instinct told me that I would be happier with the 550 (and I have learned to trust my gut) and I ordered it early Tuesday evening. However that extra $200 was still very tough to swallow because the differences while they were there, they were not that large.
Ordering through Amazon was painless! (Disclosure - I do have an inactive affiliate program with Amazon).
I also signed up for their 30 day trial of Amazon Prime, added in $3.99 for shipping and had it overnight shipped. The only issue I had was when I went to Amazon’s order tracking site Wednesday morning and it said that my order was “out for delivery” at 9:06 A.M. I didn't know this and had taken Bennie for a walk and when we got back, a big truck’s tire tracks were in the driveway.
Seeing these tracks made me worry that I had been away, when UPS attempted to deliver my computer! I fretted over that most of the day and kept double-checking the tracking site, to see if I would have to go to Waterville to get it.
It turned out that I got all worried over nothing - Kevin (our UPS driver) delivered my new new computer at 6:30 P.M. the day after I ordered it. Very impressive!!!!
The box was pretty damn big for a 12” computer.
But I had my Chromebook 550 and couldn't wait to open up the box and see how it worked.
Part 2 will be about my first impressions of the Samsung Series 5 55o Chromebook (WiFi).