I’ve had my Acer c710-2833 Chromebook (I wrote about my initial thoughts earlier) for a couple weeks now…one week on vacation, and now one week of using it at work. I am quite pleased with it, and have a hard time believing that it was such a deal! I’ve used the VGA-out for presentations, experimented with the HDMI-out (works fine!), done a number of Hangouts with my colleagues, and generally used it extensively. I spent all day today working from home, sitting on the front porch using the Acer 710. It ran like a champ. Multiple tabs, Citrix session to the office, Google talk phone calls, Hangouts, etc. I find that the Intel-based Acer does a much better job of memory management than the ARM-based Samsung; there are some memory leaks in the ARM-target code. I like the glossy screen, they keyboard has a good feel, and it’s generally a great platform. I’ve even been pleased with the battery life, though it is less than the Samsung ARM Chromebook.
At the same time, Jan is enjoying the Samsung Chromebook, which I’ve passed to her. She’s quite a bit less demanding on it, and it’s serving her very well. As my readers know, I’m quite high on ChromeOS, and I’d recommend that anyone looking at an entry-level Chromebook look at the Acer C710-2833.
One thing that wasn’t obvious from reading the Chromecast documentation is what happens when you change networks. It’s actually pretty simple, if it can’t find the configured network, it just goes into network discovery mode. What I don’t know yet is whether it can remember networks so that you don’t have to reconfigure when taking it between “known” places. One thing is that it seems to be finicky about being powered from a USB port on a TV. My LG TV at home has a regular (not “service”) port for viewing media, but that port would not power the Chromecast. I had to plug in the adapter. Not sure what the precise requirements are for power. However, it worked just fine once I got it powered up. Again, an interesting device (particularly for the net $15 after the Netflix credit!) and handy for Chrome tab casting, but I’m still not sure whether this will take any sales from Apple TV or Roku. I’m just not convinced yet…
As I wrote on 7/25, I ordered a Google Chromecast to try Google’s newest foray into connecting the laptop/handheld screen with the TV screen. I’ve had a bit of time to try it, and it’s an interesting option, but I’m not sure it’s the “game changer” that some pundits have said. What is it? It looks like a fat USB memory stick that plugs into an HDMI port on your TV. It requires power either from a specialized HDMI port, or from a USB connection (or AC adapter). It runs ChromeOS but has a very simplistic UI. You can configure it from a Chromebook (I used my new Acer) or from a desktop/laptop running the Chrome browser, or from Android (iOS setup app coming).
It has two modes of operation:
- a few apps/websites can be “connected” directly to the Chromecast and run without your computer; today, it’s Netflix and Youtube, but the promise is more to come. Your phone/tablet is merely the remote.
- “casting” the screen/tab from a Chrome browser extension
The second is currently much more flexible in the content you can “cast.”
So why am I ambivalent? I think that while it’s intriguing, it’s still more interesting to geeks than boxes like an Apple TV or a Roku, both of which have much more functionality. However, today, I’ve got more seamless options for putting Netflix, Youtube and more on the TV screen. I’m glad I bought it, since with my Netflix credit (no longer available), it only cost about $15 including shipping. However, right now it’s more a curiosity. I may use it when I want to project wirelessly from my Chromebook, but that requires a configuration on the WiFi network to allow peer communication, something many enterprises disallow. Interesting, yes…killer product? No, the Chromebook/Chromebox itself is a much more compelling expression of ChromeOS.