My regular readers (all two or three of you 😉 ) know that I really like Chromebooks and Chrome OS. I think it fits a niche and is the perfect platform to take you toward a cloud-based computing strategy. I’ve just read about the new Chromebook Pixel, and I’m confused by Google’s strategy. I don’t doubt that it’s beautiful (super hi-res display) and well-built (with fast components), and I’ve completely drunk the metaphorical Jim Jones kool-aid about the ease of use and maintenance of the Chrome OS. However, even though it comes with a terabyte of Google’s cloud storage for 3 years, they have priced this at $1300. I just don’t see it. I’m typing this on my $249 Samsung ARM Chromebook and am perfectly happy. What’s up, Google?
I am one of those that indulged in the super-deluxe Chromebook Pixel.
Well, I bothered to look at a Pixel in the PC World showroom. Expecting an Apple-esque queue of people wanting to get a glimpse of it, I was pleased to find I was the only one that saw it for what it was. I tried a few of the sites I have been working on and then I did some leisure surfing. After twenty minutes or so I had a go on the Samsung Chromebook next to it. I continued to prod the screen, expecting things to happen. They didn’t on the Samsung due to some careless omission of a touch screen. It was at that moment that I realised this ‘touch’ thing might be worth bothering with. I was sold.
I managed to sell my existing Acer Chromebook (that I only bought because the power cord was on the side rather than the back, a wrongful decision as the Samsung doesn’t need to be perpetually plugged in like a laptop does). This sale made the price that bit more bearable, even though I have still forked out the £££.
I also thought that a Pixel just might last me for three years, in which case I will be forking out £1 a day (plus electricity + wifi) for my computing needs. I know half the world live on that and I should have just given the money to charity, but I didn’t think £1 a day was a lot of money.
The last bits of hardware I found to be intellectually satisfying were the Silicon Graphics workstations of the 1990’s. Since then there has been nothing with the wow factor. I have never wanted to be in the cult of Mapple and those machines haven’t done it for me, unlike most/many developer types.
I also wanted to get away from the ‘desktop metaphor’. ChromeOS isn’t an imaginary desktop, unlike all other OS GUI arrangements.
Files were another matter. I am a developer and I don’t do it on localhost. I prefer to work on dev or live sites, depending on what the customer wants – small tweaks are fine on live, things that need testing need to be done on dev. Localhost just does not do it for me – it is not the same and I don’t like working that way. So a LAMP stack on the PC wasn’t a requirement.
As for an ‘IDE’ I find Linux, especially ‘vi’, ‘grep’ and things like ‘sort’ make up what you need for an ‘IDE’. So no need for ‘programs’.
Files are also a bit beyond me. I actually have nothing of any value whatsoever on my PC. Sure there is loads of stuff in the downloads folder and spreadsheets, images and such like in the ‘documents/pictures/desktop’ folders, but those are just intermediate old files that just clutter up my disk. So I have no need for files, except for on the servers I use for clients projects. I also saved no files whatsoever on the Acer Chromebook so I don’t really need that ‘filing cabinet’ stuff.
Some have said that they cannot run ‘applications’. Sure. But we had this problem moving away from DOS – journalists and other narrow minded folk complained they wouldn’t be able to run those really important DOS programs any more (e.g. games). Big deal.
Although applications are being written for specialist gigs like ’embedded’, there are no known must-have applications bursting to come out on 3 1/2 inch floppies, CD’s or any other form. Newer versions of Photoshop, CAD programs and so on, but I am not using a great deal of those nowadays.
Going ChromeOS sort of forces you to use non-application alternatives, and I expect these to be a lot more collaborative than the applications of yesteryear. This is the future I want to be part of.
I am not a show-off type, however, when it comes to that valuable time spent with clients, I want them to ‘drive’, and, when they get stuck, just to be able to poke the screen and for it to do something. I also want what I show to be in super HD mega res. with 178 degrees of viewing angle. If sound comes into play then I want room filling awesomeness, not tin.
I have yet to get everything I have ever worked on automatically rsync’d to the Tb of Google Drive, but it will happen. Few people actually bother to back up properly, I do, so I place value on being able to do so whereas, as evidenced, most people just don’t see the value.
So, for £1 a day? I think most people pay that for their Mapple MyPhone, on contract, even before they phone their Mum. Obviously I opted out of that and went for the Nexus 4 – costly up front but it will save me the money that paid for my Chromebook.
A small mention of alternatives – I have a small pile of useless Dell, HP, Toshiba and other laptops, most of them with the fan being maxi-noise two minutes after turning them on. Microsoft tried hard with that Windows 8 thing but it is already looking dated. I tried to like it, but I really don’t fancy looking through a letterbox shaped screen at some Microsoft product any more. Ubuntu – I stuck on 10.04 for the desktop as Alt-Tab on 12.04 was a bit difficult for me (Unity).
You did ask! In a nutshell, ‘THINK DIFFERENTLY!!!’ and don’t believe whatever it is those journalists write about ‘very expensive browser’. Linus Torvalds is happy with his Chromebook, what other ‘call to authority’ recommendation do you need?
Thanks for the feedback, Theodore! As I’ve stated I really like Chrome OS! I’ve mellowed on my view on the Pixel (see my later post http://idlethoughts.jdunns.com/2013/02/23/more-on-the-chromebook-pixel/ ) and am very interested in your hands-on comments re: the Pixel…