Seriously, it is great for my recliner, but it's not the sort of thing you are going to take to the library or sit on a park bench and write. Being retired, I've gotten in the habit of just staying in my house and I'm thinking I need to get out more. So, I needed a cheap, portable computer I could throw in my purse to use on the go.
I ended up getting a Samsung Chromebook for $250 at Best Buy. That's cheap enough that if it gets lost or broken, I haven't lost much.
So, for those of you who are not quite as up on tech issues as some of the more nerdish among you, a Chromebook is a relatively new concept in computing from Google, the people who brought you the search engine, Android phones, Chrome browser and some sort of data glasses in the future.
Basically, all the apps run in the chrome browser installed on the computer. About 2/3 of these run in the cloud (online). However, some of the basics like wordprocessing and spreadsheet can run offline, then when reconnected, the resulting documents are stored on Google Drive in the cloud.
Overall, I'm finding the computer to be pretty much what I wanted. It exists in usefulness somewhere between a tablet and a full laptop.
So, let's look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of this device. First, cost. I paid $250 for my device which has an 11 inch screen and nearly a full sized keyboard. I could have gotten a similar machine for $199, but it didn't have the glare resistant screen or the six hour battery life that mine does.
My machine also has two USB ports, an SD card port and an HDMI connector. There is no DVD/CD slot. The laptop has a video camera, microphone, headphone jack and stereo speakers.
The other big cost saving is software. Just about everything running on the ChromeOS is free. Google Docs and Zoho Docs are both free programs that also have an offline version. Although, I have to say that Zobo Writer keeps getting stuck when trying to load a large file. If you are online, you can also use Microsoft Office tools including Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Publisher for free. Incidentally, you can subscribe and download the entire suite for $9.95 a month and install it legally on five windows machines. But that's just an aside.
The MS-Office web apps are somewhat scaled down versions of the desktop programs, but they are good enough for most on the go editing and writing.
Having used all three (Zoho, Google and Word), I would say that I personally like Google docs a bit better, however, Word was good as well. Since they are all free, I suggest you try them all, if you get a Chromebook. As far as that goes, you can try them all if you don't have a Chromebook just by finding the programs on the web.
There is a product for free very similar to Scrivener called Scriptito which includes a social component where you can share your writing and get feedback from the Scriptito community.
Another cool thing about the Chromebook is it's weight. It's about 2.4 pounds and .7 inches thin. My sister saw it sitting next to my iPad and said, "You could easily get those mixed up." She's right it's just a couple of inches bigger than my iPad, but is much roomier to type on.
As for speed, there is no comparison. It goes from powered down to fully booted in less than 10 seconds. It is, after all, a single function computer. It loads a special version of the Chrome browser that all the apps run under. Also, launching an app takes just a few seconds. The response time within the apps is also impressive.
Currently, it is fairly safe from viruses, but if it becomes a popular operating system, someone will decide to attack it. However, at this point, it is safe.
However, on the flip side, don't expect to replace your laptop or desktop with this device. Just about all the apps are scaled down versions of what you can run on a desktop or a good quality laptop. You can write your story and edit it, using MS-Office share point, you can do some collaboration with your editor or co author, but if you are doing publishing, photo editing, video or audio production, this is not going to be adequate.
Also, there is a learning curve. The keyboard is slightly different. You don't have a caps lock and there is a control key function you need to use. It doesn't have a right mouse button and you tap with two fingers to access right click functions. The lack of a delete button makes editing interesting because you have to put the cursor behind what you want to remove and use the backspace key.
The Chromebook, though, is a good second computer. Like that second car, which is nothing special just basic transportation, the Chromebook is just basic computing. It's inexpensive, fast, makes good use of the cloud services and has a long battery life. For something to take to the library, make video calls, watch movies or listen to music. To sit someplace quiet and just write, it's well worth the money at this price. I wouldn't say the higher priced ones are worth it, though.