After a lot of thought and consideration -- I have decided to retire One Foot in Reality and leave it as an Archive. I will still monitor it to keep the trolls at bay, but will not be posting here any longer.

If you are looking for my new posts, please go to www.haroldlshaw.com .

Thank you for all they years of following One Foot In Reality.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Why Back to a Chromebook?

Sometimes, it seems that I am going backwards instead of forward.

What in the world are you talking about Harold?

Well, I went back to work, I have focused my running going back to focusing on enjoyment than always needing to be training for "something", moved back to Pearl Izumi as my primary running shoes, moving back to Google's tech silo and now...

I am moving back to a Chromebook to do most of my daily stuff on a computer at home.


What?  Did your new Windows laptop die already, I knew that you used the damn thing too much and spent too much time on it, but damn that thing is only 6 months old! Did you drop it, break it, what in the hell is going on?

No, nothing like that, it still works fine, well most of the time anyway.

The ASUS Windows 10 laptop works well and does everything that I want from a computer, but at the same time, over the past month, it seems to crash, restart on its own (after updates), at the most inopportune times - like when I want to use the damn thing.

So there is the frustration factor.

Then I just am not all that thrilled with Windows 10, yeah it is nice, works most of the time, but...

I just don't feel completely comfortable with it. I can't put how I am feeling into words, it is more of a feeling that I don't need or want to bother with things that are necessary to keep a PC or even a Mac running smoothly anymore. Windows and the Mac computers both just feel too "busy" to me and I want something that "just works" the way I do - now.

I have moved further and further into the K.I.S.S. principle when it comes to using a computer.

So I have been "sort of" half-heartedly looking around at Chromebooks for the past month or so.


When my old MacBook Pro finally died last week, it left me without a backup computer and I have learned the hard way that it is often necessary to have a back-up computer to get you by when, not if something happens to your primary computer. Especially since it can take some time to get a computer repaired or replaced. Also, if I want to travel or just take it down to the coffee shop (it is better to have a laptop you don't care all that much about than some expensive one that if you break it, you feel like shit).

So I started looking a little more seriously at what I should have for a backup for my ASUS Flip Windows Machine.

I have pretty much moved back to the Google tech silo and honestly my computing needs are different than they were a couple of years ago when I went back to a Windows machine and dabbled with my MacBook Pro.

Nowadays, I don't do a great deal with video and my photo editing needs are pretty minimal, which means that except for an occasional foray into NeverWinter Nights II or Devine Destiny and downloading my Garmin data, that I spend the rest of my time in my browser.

Back in 2012 to 2013, I was pretty happy with my first Chromebook a Samsung Series 5 550 (although I did have to make a few work-arounds to get things done) and would probably still have it if I hadn't face-planted it into the fireplace bricks, when our cat tripped me (thanks, Joey).

Which meant that my previous experiences with the Chromebook, were mostly positive and another Chromebook seemed to be a better fit than an Apple or Android tablet with a keyboard, a cheap Windows ultra portable machine or even a MacBook Air.

Plus I am using Google Apps at work and have an Android Phone, which means that I want everything to work together well.

So a Chromebook seemed like the solution I was looking for, inexpensive, plays well in Google's tech silo and I have had positive experiences with in the past.

Which Chromebook

So I looked a little more seriously at the different Chromebooks that are now available.

The hardware specs haven't seemed to have changed all that much since I had my old Samsung 5-550, except for some the screens being better, a little longer battery life and maybe some slightly more powerful processors. Otherwise, while there are more choices than there were in 2012, not that much in the hardware is all that different than what I had back then.

Looking at all the reviews the Pixel would have been perfect, but it was out of my price range and to be honest anything with a touch screen really isn't what I am looking for...I had it on my ASUS flip and very seldom used it, so it is a feature that I could live without very easily. I prefer a keyboard and a mouse - old fashioned I know, but I do pretty well with them.

Yeah, looking at the different Chromebook reviews, I would have loved to have gotten one of the new Dell or the Toshiba 13" models with a better screen and battery life, but for heavy lifting I still can use my Windows laptop,

To be honest, I couldn't justify another $300-$400 for another laptop that would be used primarily for surfing the web, writing blog posts or reading whatever and was originally supposed to be a only a backup computer.

Especially, with a fairly new Windows laptop sitting right there waiting to be used.

However, I didn't want a machine with 2GB of RAM, it wouldn't have worked well for me. I have too many tabs open all the time and wanted something that was light to carry, but fairly rugged for travelling with. You know something like I had when I got the 5-550 in 2012.

So I looked around to see if there were any available. When I saw a refurbished Samsung Series 5-550 for sale on Amazon for a good price and had an $80 gift certificate, I had to pull the trigger and get it.

I knew what I would be getting and was happy with how Samsung 5 550 worked for me last time, plus I still had the adapters for hooking it up to a larger screen.

Got it

My refurbished Samsung 5-550 arrived last night and I spent a couple of hours getting it setup the way I wanted.

Yes, you still have to tweak things to the way you want them, even on a Chromebook.

Things like moving to the Beta channel, whether to open shelf short-cuts in their own window or a tab, refamiliarizing myself with the Chrome OS idiosyncrasies, installing some stuff from the Web store, setting up a recovery stick and just playing around with things.

The reality is

That I felt like I was returning to an old friend.

I quickly re-adapted (in less than a few hours) to the Chromebook way of doing things - it just felt comfortable, natural, intuitive or whatever to hell you want to call it when something "feels right".

Instead of the feeling of seeming to struggle with my PC or MBP to get them to do what I wanted the way that I wanted. This was in spite of knowing how to do a "little" bit on either a PC or Mac. With the upgrades to the OS's that have come out, it seems as though things are becoming less intuitive for me with Microsoft's and Apple's offerings and that it doesn't all "just work for me" as well or easily as the Chrome OS does.

Sometimes simpler is better and I don't want to always have to be "doing" something to my computer anymore, I just want to pick it up, have it turn on quickly, do what I want without interruptions from software, apps or the "system". I don't want to have to wait while the computer analyzes why it crashed, then wait for the restart, so I can get back to what I want to be doing.

I will say that after only a few hours on the Chromebook, I do feel pretty damn comfortable with it. Oh, I know it has its limitations, the screen ain't that great, that I still have a lot of things to "remember" how to do and that over the past couple of years that there have been some changes.

However, even though I am working comfortably on the Chromebook, I know it ain't perfect and that if I do start using it as my primary laptop, that I will have to do a few work-arounds (especially the lack of support for uploading my Garmin data) and a few minor changes to how I do things.

Still for some reason it just feels right for me now and it is good to have an old friend back.

Will I get rid of my Windows 10 laptop...probably not. However, I can see it quickly becoming my backup computer and me doing most everything on the Chromebook again. Also, I have a feeling that the wife will take it off my hands if I start using the Chromebook too much, which is fine.

This post originally appeared on One Foot In Reality if you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission, please go to my site to see the original post.


  1. I love the concept of the Chromebook, and after our Samsung died I considered replacing it, but had enough other laptops around that I didn't need to (yes, I have an issue :) ). I reformatted my wife's Sony (from 2008) for her and a HP Elitebook from 2012 I had that was underused for my younger son ... and eventually reformatted my 10" Lenovo S10 'netbook' as a Chromebook and it sits for general use - and gets used. They are just so easy and approachable!

    For me, I tend to go for the tablets, so I am loving the iPad Pro :)

    But I also think the value the Chromebook offers is great ... but seems to top out around $200.

  2. Tech is an addiction, like running, you always seem to have to get the next best thing and in your position as a reviewer, you need to stay current and still have fun. The best thing about a Chromebook for me at this point is that it just works and I feel comfortable in how they work.

    Tablets just haven't done it for me, I like my keyboard and mouse even though I was tempted to pick up a higher end Android Table and keyboard set, but the prices scared me off.

    For me the value is a little higher, it tops out at the $400 price point, I paid $450 for my first 5-550 and if I like this one nearly as well as it is starting out again, I have a feeling that I would go for a better screen and maybe one with more than 4GB of RAM, with a quad core intel processor and even then it would be a lot cheaper than what I would want in a PC or even a Mac. Depends on how you use it :-)


I moderate all comments and I apologize for using word verification, but the spam levels are ridiculous if I do not.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.