Last night, I happened to catch this Microsoft commercial, where they attempt to trash the Google Chromebook with the help of folks from Pawn Stars. As regular readers here know, I love my Google Chromebook. I’ve been using it happily since may, have done the vast majority of my fiction-writing on it, and have yet to have a single problem with it. The commercial irked me, and so I decided to debunk several of the claims made in the video based on my personal experience with my Chromebook.
“Since Chromebook applications are web-based, when you’re not connected, it’s pretty much a brick.”
I guess all of the offline writing I did on the flight to Denver was in my imagination. Also on the flight back from Denver. And don’t forget the flight to San Antonio. And the flight back from San Antonio.
Of course, the Chromebook has an offline mode for Google Docs, and on the infrequent times that I’ve used it in a place where I didn’t have a network connection (like a 35,000 feet on a United flight) I was still able to access all of my documents and make edits. The next time the Chromebook had a connection, it synced my edits with Google Drive.
“You see this thingy [points to Chrome icon]? That means it’s not a real laptop. It doesn’t have Windows or Office.”
My immediate, snarky response, is thank goodness! I was a Windows user from the Windows 3.1 days, right up through the present, if you count my day job. Based on my experience, my Chromebook is far easier to use and substantially more reliable than any Windows machine I’ve used.
At home, I switched from Windows to Apple back in 2004, mainly because I didn’t want to feel like I was constantly “at work” in the Window environment. I love my iMac and my iPad, but even on my iMac, all but the submission drafts of my manuscripts are written in Google Docs. The submissions drafts are put together with Scrivener. I use Word only when I have no other alternative–which means I use it only very rarely these days.
“Without WiFi, it doesn’t do much at all.”
I know that hyperbole often plays a role in advertising, but it seems to me that the sentence, “Without WiFi, it doesn’t do much at all” implies that the device doesn’t have WiFi. Of course, it does, and I’ve never had a problem with the WiFi connection. Perhaps what they were really meant was that if you don’t have a WiFi connection, the laptop isn’t very useful. I’d agree with that. But then again, what laptop is useful without a WiFi connection these days? How is the Chromebook any different?
Also, as I pointed out earlier, I am rarely in a location where I don’t have access to WiFi. Even free WiFi. Since May, I have been “out of WiFi” range with my Chromebook for a total of maybe 12 hours, all of these consisting of flights somewhere.
“And when you are online, Google tracks what you do so they can sell adds.”
If you allow it. Of course, you can also adjust your privacy settings.
The important takeaway, aside from how misleading the Microsoft commercial is, is that you need to pick the tools that are best suited to the job. For some people that’s a Dell laptop with Windows. For a while, I tried going with just an iPad, but eventually, I landed on the Chromebook for most of what I need.
What the ad doesn’t say, of course, are some of the many advantages of the Google Chromebook:
- Price. Mine was $249. I think there is a $199 model out now.
- Price. Microsoft Office can run in excess of $300. Google Docs is free.
- Access your data anywhere. If I leave my Chromebook at home, I all I have to do is open a browser on another computer to access all of my documents. I can edit them, comment on them, and when I get back to my Chromebook, all of my changes are there.
- Efficiency. I can do that without having to copy files to Dropbox, or copy files to a flash drive, or remember which version is the current version.
- Chrome Remote Desktop. On those rare instances when I need to do something I simply can’t do on the Chromebook, I still can do–thanks to Chrome remote desktop. I open CRD on my Chromebook and I can access my iMac screen at home, and use any application on my iMac. Most often this is Mathematica or Scrivener.
- Peace of mind. If my disk dies, or I lose my Chromebook, I don’t lose any data. It’s all safely in the cloud.
- No blue screen of death. Self-explanatory.
Maybe this commercial is funny, but if you’ve ever actually used a Chromebook, it comes across as seriously misleading and makes Microsoft look like disingenuous. But maybe that’s nothing new. If anyone is doing the “scroogling” here, it’s Microsoft.