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Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Welcome to the Chromebook Megathread, dedicated to the devices that run ChromeOS! This thread will focus on the laptops (Chromebooks, which I generally abbreviate as “CB” from here on) but Chromeboxes, Chromebases, and even the Chromebit are open for discussion!

What is ChromeOS? It’s a Linux-based OS, developed from the open-source ChromiumOS, and focused around the Chrome Web browser. Being a Linux system you can use a set of scripts known as Crouton to add a full Linux environment (generally Ubuntu or Debian) to your device and switch between the two at will!

What can and can’t ChromeOS do? It can do most of the general-purpose tasks that most people spend most of their time doing. What it can do outweighs what it cannot. You can obviously browse the Web, but also use productivity apps (e.g. Google Docs, office.com, and now the official MS Office Android apps on compatible devices,) stream music and video (Plex works excellently!), use any Webmail service, and in general do anything that you could do in any other browser window, which is a lot these days. You can print, although not as freely as you might from another OS to any old printer (see below.) You cannot install applications meant for another OS, with two exceptions: first, you could switch to your aformentioned Ubuntu chroot and pretty much install whatever Linux package you like, but keep in mind some CBs have ARM CPUs and require ARM-compatible packages. Second…

What about Android apps? Android Runtime for Chrome is progressing nicely and is available in the Stable channel (i.e. the wide-release version of the OS) for many devices going back to 2015 (like that year’s Google CB Pixel) and should be available for all devices from 2017 on. The apps generally work very well, or not at all; pretty much all mainstream apps that you’d want to run on your CB work as expected, while some fringe apps of dubious necessity (e.g. the Anomaly Benchmark) just don’t work, although I’ve found that that app in particular doesn’t run on some native AndroidOS devices. Many apps run in a phone-sized window mode and can’t be resized, although this is something likely to be improved upon in the near future. You can keep an eye on this page to see where a given device’s ARC support stands. With this in mind, between some must-have Linux applications that you could install should you go the Crouton route, Android apps on a supported device, and browser extensions, you can actually run a wide variety of software on ChromeOS. Speaking of that last item…

You can add extensions to ChromeOS, and they work like they do on any other installation of Chrome. In fact, if you sign into your account it will synchronize your environment so your Chrome experience will be the same on your CB as it is on your Chrome installation on your Windows desktop. These have practical applications, like blocking ads, translating between languages, and managing your tabs.

How about Windows software? Well you can’t install it, but if you have a spare Windows system at home you can install the Chrome Remote Desktop server on it and use the client on your CB (or Android device!) to control it. While you won’t be playing games remotely, this works quite well for anything not too graphically intensive.
Update: CrossOver (for Android) is in development and can allow you to potentially run Windows software on a compatible ChromeOS device. Your mileage will definitely vary, but it looks promising.

What about working offline? You do need an Internet connection to use a majority of a CB’s services; then again, you’d need an Internet connection to do the same tasks on any other OS. There are offline options, like editing in Google Docs or working in your sync’d Gmail, but most of the things you do daily require a connection anyway, so this isn’t a direct criticism of ChromeOS itself.

What's that about printing? ChromeOS isn't designed to print directly; it doesn't have any local printer drivers. The system used is Google Cloud Print. You either have a specific model of printer on your network that is compatible (it receives print jobs directly from the service) or you can use a PC as a print server. I use the latter method; I have a desktop that I use for Plex and other stuff, and because it's always on I have GCP enabled and it's connected to a networked color laser printer. On the rare occasions I need to print something, the print job goes from the CB, over the Internet, back to the Windows PC, then over the LAN to the printer. It sounds complicated but it's really as simple as printing directly to a printer (the software does all the work.) If you have an older printer and/or don't want to buy a new GCP-enabled one, and don't have or want another device running a different OS (anything that can run Chrome), you're still in luck because you can turn a Raspberry Pi into a GCP server!

What are Chromebooks? What about other ChromeOS devices? Simply put, a CB is a laptop built to run ChromeOS, with hardware very similar to any other laptop running Windows or another OS. A ChromeBox is, similarly, a small desktop running ChromeOS; often these have user-upgradeable RAM and storage, which are commonly soldered-on in CBs. There are also ChromeBases, all-in-one machines built into a typically large display. Finally, there’s the Asus ChromeBit, the sole example of a ChromeOS-on-a-stick. Only these “official” devices can run ChromeOS as they do that out of the box, however there’s another option:

A company called Neverware maintains a ChromiumOS distro known as CloudReady. You can download it for free and create a USB flash drive-based installer to run on almost any existing system. Upon booting it runs as a live OS, letting you try it out before installing it locally. This is perhaps the best way to try out the OS to see if you can live with it, but it also allows you to repurpose some old hardware to get some more life out of it. Without going this route, you could also just install Chrome on an existing computer to see if you can do whatever you need to do with the browser before committing to a CB purchase.

Why get a Chromebook? Simply, because and if it works for you. As mentioned above you can test it out to see if you can live within ChromeOS. Broadly, simplicity, security, speed, and price are more specific reasons to consider a CB. First of all, ChromeOS works the same on any device; it just works, and it works well. As mentioned above in the extensions section, you sign into your Google account and it synchronizes your work environment, so after a few minutes your new Chromebook looks and feels like the one you just used, or just upgraded from; you’re ready to get back to work almost immediately. Next, as it’s a Linux-based OS, it’s not vulnerable to Windows-specific exploits, has layers of security built in including a TPM, Verified Boot, and encryption, and Google frequently issues updates. Also, as it’s a very stripped-down OS, being largely based around a Web browser it runs well on modest hardware. While there are some low-end configurations (more detail below) that you should avoid, running Chrome on Windows, because of the latter’s higher overhead, requires higher-end (and more expensive) hardware to run as smoothly. Leading to the third major point, mainstream CBs with acceptable hardware cost less than an acceptable system based on another OS, like Windows or especially MacOS. You can certainly find a new Windows laptop in the $200-300 range, but you generally have to settle for low-resolution displays, insufficient amounts of RAM, and laughably inadequate local storage; have you tried running Windows on a 32 GB eMMC with 2 GB of RAM? If not, don't try it, trust me, you'll regret it. You can of course spend more money on a CB if you want better hardware…

So why would you spend more than [insert $ amount here] on a CB? Because you want more features or better quality than an entry-level system. This point is applicable to any computer or electronics, not just CBs. Spending more money will get you better, higher-resolution displays, backlit keyboards, glass touchpads, faster hardware, better build quality, and more RAM/storage. Generally, the more time you spend using a device, the more you should probably afford to put into the initial purchase. There’s no sense in working on a device 8 hours a day if it has a crappy keyboard and display.

A note on local storage: Most CBs have historically shipped with 16 or 32 GB eMMCs. The Acer C710 had a 160 GB HDD option, some devices have m.2 SATA storage, and within the past year devices have been released with at least 64 GB of storage, including the new Google Pixelbook, which has between 128 and 512 GB, the top option being NVMe. The initial reason for the limited storage was because it simply wasn't necessary. ChromeOS itself only takes up perhaps <1 GB of space, and zRAM can use up to around 6 GB the last time I checked; the rest is available to the user as more or less temporary storage, as you’re intended to utilize either remote storage (ChromeOS is natively connected to your GDrive account, with a minimum of 15 GB and often new devices coming with 100 GB or more for a period of time) or removable local storage like SD cards or USB flash. There are, however, good ways to utilize local storage. The first is via the aforementioned installation of another Linux system; the OS and additional packages would have to live in whatever local storage you have remaining. The second way is with Android apps, which are entirely restricted to local storage as they currently can’t see any removable media (although this could change any time with a system update.) The proliferation of ARC is the primary instigator of increases in local storage.

Recommended Extensions

*A note on h264ify and video codecs: Google is trying to push VP8 and VP9, which are open-source video codecs roughly comparable to AVC (H.264) and HEVC (H.265), respectively. The problem is that while AVC has been supported in hardware (dGPUs and even Intel iGPUs) for quite some time, support for the other codecs has been much slower. By default, Youtube in particular will push video in VP8 unless you request AVC, which is what that extension does. Without the extension, the end result is that the CPU has to decode the stream in software mode which drastically increases utilization and power consumption. There’s really no reason to let your system receive VP8 unless it has hardware support.

Hardware Considerations
CBs have a variety of hardware ranging from very cheap, very low-end to well-equipped models in the US$1k and above range. I have some advice when looking at Chromebooks:
  • RAM - You can find systems with 2 to 16 GB of RAM, the latter being rare, but the former being unfortunately fairly common. Avoid any ChromeOS (or Windows, for that matter) system with less than 4 GB of RAM. Just do it, trust me.
  • CPU - Any Core-based CPU will be fine, from i3 or m3 and up, but also any of the xxxxU Celerons, like the 3205U, which is actually a Broadwell part. The older Bay Trail-M parts (especially the dual-cores) are very weak and should be avoided, especially the N28x0 ones, although the N29x0 denotes quad-cores and are passable in older systems like the Lenovo Yoga 11e. The successor series, Braswell, is slightly better, although you should still avoid the dual-cores (N30x0) whereas the quad cores (N31x0) are OK. Beyond that, there are some ARM-based CBs, and they’re comparable in performance to between the Atom-based Celerons and the Core-based ones; they’re all 4+ cores and are passable at least.
  • Storage - As detailed above, most CBs don’t have more than 32 GB of local storage currently. This amount only matters if you’ll definitely be using either Android apps (on a compatible system) or a Crouton-installed Linux system, and your options are limited at the moment.
  • Display - Not counting Chromebases, displays range in size from 10-15.6”. Resolutions range from WXGA (i.e. 1366x768 and similar resolutions, sometimes referred to as “HD”/”720P” although not exactly equivalent) to well over FHD (1920x1080), up to the 3200x1800, 5.8 MP panel on the HP CB 13 (“G1”.) WXGA is fine on panels up to ~11”, however it is unfortunately still found on displays as large as 15.6”; avoid these as they look absolutely terrible, and your smartphone most certainly has a higher resolution. You can always use zooming/scaling on higher resolution panels to facilitate readability.
  • Convertibles - There’s quite a selection of laptops in general nowadays that have 360° hinges that fold all the way back to allow simulated tablet use; this is largely for media consumption rather than creation, and may be quite handy for your use case. They also have “tent” or “stand” modes, the latter being like the former but upside-down with the keyboard facing the surface. Note that in tablet mode, these devices are larger and heavier than any regular tablet, with the keyboard on the bottom in a somewhat awkward position. You have to specifically want a convertible and intend to make use of their capabilities, otherwise you generally end up with a device that’s bigger, heavier, and more expensive than a traditional laptop.
  • Touchscreen (non-convertible) - Some laptops that are not convertibles (i.e. they have hinges with up to about 180° of travel) have touchscreens. These are by no means necessary and aren’t as useful as they are on actual tablets/convertibles, but they can be handy. While it’s a bit unnatural to reach over the keyboard to touch the display, you do eventually get used to it and it becomes quite helpful with general browsing and navigation, so much so that you might miss it when switching to a non-touch system. This is probably not a feature that you should seek out, or spend more for, but it’s nice to have (e.g. on the Google Pixels.)

Software Support (the "Auto Update Policy")
Official ChromeOS devices are guaranteed support (OS and security updates) for at least 5 years from their launch. Beyond that time the devices themselves will still work but updates are not guaranteed.


Update 2/8/2018: Added info on Google's Auto Update Policy
Update 12/15/2017: Added section about Google Cloud Printing.
Update 11/23/2017: Added info about MS Office Android apps.
Update 11/16/2017: Added CrossOver description.
Update 11/2/2017: Added VLC extension.

Atomizer fucked around with this message at 08:40 on Feb 8, 2018

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Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


I have some specific CB recommendations, which should enable anybody to find something that suits them. A preliminary note: Acer in particular makes multiple variations of seemingly every laptop they release, regardless of OS. You can expect to find a single model with every variation discussed thus far, including CPU, RAM, storage, and display resolution. Pay special attention to the model/part numbers to make sure you don’t end up with a device with a worse display or less RAM than you intended. Also, the model name often indicates the nominal display size. Don’t shy away from used/refurbished CBs, as preparing them for a new user is as simple as a Powerwash and they have few or no moving parts, so there’s basically nothing to fail on them as long as you don’t drop or step on the thing. There are significant deals to be had through the secondary market (including some now-discontinued but still great models, and discounts of up to 50% of MSRP!) Note that these are all recommendations for the US market, as I can’t control or keep track of what models are available in other countries. The recommendations are still sound, you just have to do some more homework to find the models you’re interested in and possibly import them. Prices can vary wildly, however, so a model that’s a good deal here may not be so even if it is available in your country.

This is a spreadsheet tracking most of the models I discuss. It doesn't reflect all the variants, but rather typically the highest-end model for each; often hardware is shared between several CBs so you can extrapolate performance from a different model. This will mostly be useful for ascertaining properties like size/weight/portability and relative performance.


Beyond that Zipso has perhaps the most detailed, easy-to-read, and mostly up-to-date chart listing most or all CB models through around mid-2017.

General-Purpose, low-price, traditional
  • The Acer CB 14 is a “nice,” cheap CB. It’s what I often recommend as an entry level CB because it has decent performance, a decent FHD display (it has a WXGA/HD option that you should avoid, however!) and a very nice-feeling, pseudo-Mac aluminum build. It’s something that would make you happy if you wanted a non-plasticky device (not that there’s actually anything wrong with that) and it’s a very nice package for the money given that you can find the highest-spec model for as low as $200. This will probably be a gateway device towards nicer CBs for many people.
  • The Toshiba CB 2 (13”, 2015) is one of the best all-around CBs, but unfortunately it’s discontinued as Toshiba got out of the laptop manufacturing business. Be very aware that Toshiba released a “Chromebook 2” in both 2014 and 2015, and the latter is by far the better option; avoid the former. The 2014 version most notably has a terrible CPU (N2840) although tragically most of the rest of the hardware is great; again, avoid this even if you see it in the $100-200 range as it’s slow as balls. The 2015 revision has a 3215U Celeron which is actually a Broadwell part, with an i3 option, 4 GB RAM, a gorgeous 13” FHD display, great speakers, and a great backlit keyboard; the touchpad’s even good for a non-glass one. This is what you should be looking for, although you’ll probably have to scour eBay or other second-hand markets.

General-Purpose, low-price, convertible, most portable
  • The Acer R11 is an early convertible CB that still holds up today. That’s partially due to the facts that CBs all work the same and are continually updated, plus the R11 is one of the first devices to receive support for Android apps, which work well on it. This is one of the smaller CBs, with a black or white plastic build, and a decent WXGA IPS 11” panel. There have been multiple configurations as per Acer’s style, but you’re mainly looking for either a N3150 or N3160 (both quad-core) CPU (plus 4 GB RAM.) It’s worth the $200-300 price, even new.
  • The Asus Flip C101 is the smallest, most portable CB. The main downside is that the keyboard is necessarily a little cramped, so this is more of a media consumption rather than creation machine. Beyond that, the rest of the hardware’s fine, especially since this is a refreshed version of the first-gen C100; the difference is largely in that the C101 has a faster ARM CPU, although it also has USB-C ports and there may have been slight upgrades to the display (still WXGA, 1280x800, which is fine for 10”) and speakers. The C101 is an excellent buy at $300 (or less, when available) and while the C100 is still a capable device, I’d recommend against it. The new version is just better enough, plus the C100 would, in my opinion, have to be under $200 for the 4 GB version to be in consideration. Also note that that means there’s a 2 GB version, which I don’t think is worth it even at the $150 price point I’ve seen recently. The CPU performance with 4 GB RAM is just borderline as-is. The C100 was also one of the first three devices to receive support for Android apps, although some demanding games like Vainglory are a little sluggish on this hardware, but should run much better on the updated C101.

Large Display
  • Currently, Acer makes the only CB with the largest display on a CB, a 15.6” panel. It has been through three generations thus far, with the first having generally the best hardware and the last having a faux-premium build (partial aluminium panels.) The 2nd-gen was released with weak hardware (Atom-based CPUs) to save money, and the 3rd-gen has only improved slightly in this respect. You want one of the first-generation (CB5-571) with the Celeron 3205U at a minimum, although there are i3 and i5 (ULV) models. Something like this or this with the FHD panel and 4 GB of RAM would suffice (those differ only in internal storage, 16 or 32 GB.) Note that there are either black or white plastic versions if you look hard enough.
  • As far as large-display CBs go, there’s a greater selection with 14” panels. HP has made them and I used to use one as my 3rd-ever CB, but within my recommendations the Acer 14 (both the regular and the “for Work” version, detailed above and below) could work if you need something a little more portable.

Professional/Durable/EDU
  • The Dell CB 13 (7310) is a beloved-but-discontinued CB. Built like a tank, it’s a business model available with a solid selection of CPUs and RAM options, glass touchpad, excellent backlit keyboard, and excellent FHD display, comparable to the one in the Toshiba CB 2, but with an optional touchscreen. The highest-end model was around US$800 new, and if you can find one at a decent price this is still totally worth buying. Heavy, but durable, with excellent components all around.
  • The awkwardly-named Acer CB 14 ‘for Work’ is a surprisingly nice and powerful ruggedized business CB. Available with up to a Skylake i5 and 8 GB of RAM, it has impact-resistance and a spill-resistant, draining keyboard! With a Type C port and a satisfactory 3855U Celeron as the base CPU with a decent 14” display, this is perhaps the best current alternative to the discontinued Dell 13, as long as you go for the FHD display because like I’ve said, Acer makes several variants of everything including this CB with a substandard WXGA display!
  • The Lenovo Thinkpad 13 CB is another acceptable business/rugged CB, with components (and prices) very similar to the Acer For Work. The base WXGA display is unacceptable, so look for the FHD panel, and touchscreen is an option. Otherwise, the most notable difference between the Acer & Lenovo are the fact that the latter has a Thinkpad design and scalloped (non-backlit) keyboard, which is rare for a CB. You can see the different versions here and even if you filter it to the US models note that there are still seven listed, with variations including 3 different CPUs, 2 RAM capacities, 2 storage capacities, 2 display resolutions, and a touch option. Realistically if you ignore the non-FHD models you get down to 4: 1 each of the 3 different CPUs with touchscreen, and an i5 non-touch variant. Any of those are worth it though.
  • Acer has released yet another 11” CB, the C771, (ignore the models with the N2840, those are a lovely, unrelated model) which is apparently an education-sector-targeted device. It’s actually more or less the 14” CB For Work above squeezed into an 11” body. While it only has an WXGA resolution (which is, again, fine for that size,) it has a touchscreen option, plus the “CB For Work’s” enhanced durability and water-resistance with the same draining keyboard, and most importantly the same hardware options including a top-end Core i5 and 8 GB of RAM. Also, a USB Type C port!
  • Lenovo also has a smaller ThinkPad CB, the Yoga 11e. On its 4th generation now, it’s a durable convertible with 11” WXGA display and familiar Thinkpad design & keyboard. The current model’s N3450 CPU is an Apollo Lake, and is sufficient at the low end. Previous generations of this CB are also still fine, as long as you get 4 GB of RAM and avoid the lowest end CPUs I warned you against above.

Mid-range, semi-premium, convertible
  • Samsung has made quite a few CB models, but the only ones of note are the newest Plus and Pro, which differ only in the CPU, with the former having a 2+4 hexa-core ARM SoC and the latter having a Core m3. (Also, I guess they have different colors but who cares?) The m3 is faster, but more expensive, and the Plus is probably performant enough for most people. Notably, these are convertibles with Android app support. They also have an excellent 3:2 display at a 2400x1600 resolution, ideal for reading/browsing as opposed to viewing video. They are among the more expensive CBs at $450 & $550 MSRP, respectively, but can currently be found for less and I’ve recently seen them refurbished on Woot for $350 and $400, which is a nice discount. They also have an included digital stylus for drawing, which is a nice bonus. At this point (late October 2017) it is rumored that both the Samsung CBs and the Asus C302 below will receive higher-end configurations to better compete with the newly-released Pixelbook. Expect pricing to reach the $1k area.
  • The Asus Flip C302 is the big brother to the original Flip C100, and it’s actually more comparable to the Samsung Pro above, with nearly identical hardware. One major difference is that it has a better, backlit keyboard; the other is that it has a more traditional 16:9 FHD display. This makes the Asus better for watching video, and worse for browsing/reading/typing as there’s more wasted space on the sides of the display. Like I mentioned above, the C302 should have higher-end versions widely available in the near future; these actually exist already, although not everywhere. Information and availability are fragmented, although in the UK there’s apparently the m7 version with 128 GB of storage and 4-16 GB of RAM at a steep cost.
  • Acer made a bigger brother to its R11, the R13, although it’s more like a bigger Asus Flip C100 in construction (metal body) and architecture (ARM.) It uses a decent MediaTek ARM SoC with a 13” FHD display and 32 or 64 GB of storage, and these are available refurbished on eBay for $300 or less. The R13 isn’t as high-end as the Asus or Samsungs above, but it’s similar in functionality at a substantially lower cost.

Premium, highest-end, most-expensive
  • The Google Chromebook Pixel, over two generations, was the ultimate CB. Unfortunately they’re both discontinued, but should you be able to find one at a reasonable cost they’re still a joy to use. Both generations had roughly the same peripheral hardware (high-res 3:2 touchscreen display, backlit keyboard, glass touchpad, upward-firing speakers, and metal chassis albeit with some different coloration between the generations) however the 2015 version is by far the better device. It was one of the first, if not the first device to charge over USB Type C, and it has a port on either side. It also came with either an i5 or i7 Broadwell ULV CPU, 8 or 16 GB of RAM, and 32 or 64 GB of storage. The 2013 version has a nominally-decent Ivy Bridge i5 and 4 GB of RAM, but three caveats that I believe are probably related. First of all, battery life was poor even when the device was new, at 4-5 hours at best when other new CBs were getting several hours, going up above the 10-hour mark; now a 2013 device is probably lucky to hit 3-4 hours on a single charge (and it does not charge quickly, either.) Second, the device heats up significantly in use, even when not under any apparent load; the heat is concentrated around the hinge, top & bottom of the main chassis (not the display portion) and also along the left side of the chassis. Of note is that both of these models exhaust through a slot under the hinge in the back of the device, so this isn’t that surprising, but just how hot (i.e., painful to the touch) the 2013 model gets is. Finally, performance of the 2013 Pixel while in use can be sluggish (particularly when the laptop is heated up,) most noticeably when doing something as simple as viewing a single Youtube video, opening the Stats For Nerds and noticing the dropped frames (even when using AVC!) which can exceed 50%! I’m hypothesizing that the original 2013 Pixel had some bug that prevented the device from going into a lower-power mode (clocking down, etc.) when appropriate, causing overheating, thermal throttling and subsequent decreased performance, and significantly reduced battery life. Note that both generations of the Pixel had the same nominal capacity battery and the TDP difference between their generations of ULV CPUs was only 17 vs 15 W, yet the 2015 version gets double the battery life or more! That being said, because the first-generation Pixel can be found fairly cheaply nowadays (there was a stash of UK-market “new old stock” versions for $400 a year or two ago) and this may seem like the first chance for many people to get their hands on a mythical CB Pixel, I have to strongly recommend against doing so for the aforementioned reasons. The 2015 update (either version) by contrast, is still fantastic, and is the final member of the initial three CBs with Android app support.
  • While Google did not release a direct successor to the 2015 Pixel (until now,) they did collaborate with HP on what could be considered the 2016 Pixel, the HP CB 13. A thin, metal chassis, 13” “QHD+” (3200x1800) display, backlit keyboard, 4-16 GB of RAM, and choice of 4 ULV Skylake CPUs make it a beautiful device. There are two USB-C ports (both on the left side) for charging although unfortunately battery life is modest at roughly 6-9 hours depending on the source; I haven't been able to find a controlled study of endurance between all the models although the FHD Pentium model supposedly lasts a little longer due to the lower-resolution display. I've never actually seen one of those models in the wild, however. You may be able to buy one new directly from HP (don’t bother) or even configure a model (definitely don’t do that, the prices are absurd) however all of the various QHD+ models have been available intermittently on woot.com refurb'd from around $250-550; you can keep an eye on this link and they’ll eventually be re-listed. Note that the m3 CPU is probably the biggest jump in performance between models, over the Pentium, as these two are generally both available for sale and are pretty close in price. The m5 and m7 are smaller (observable) jumps but boost RAM to 8 and 16 GB, respectively; the m5 + 8 GB is probably the sweet spot overall, with the m7 + 16 GB being overkill for most people (most of the time my RAM usage is in the 4-8 GB range, but with my typical tab load active and un-suspended that can indeed surpass the 8 GB mark.) The HP 13 is actually more or less a premium version of the Acer 14 described above, in terms of materials, size, and the fact that they're ultimately the same type of laptop, rather than one being a convertible or having some other special feature. This is what I was alluding to when I said the Acer 14 in particular could be a “gateway model,” because an owner of that one would like it and then eventually decide to upgrade to a nicer one like the HP. Beyond all that, the HP 13 is still a very nice choice even today, although it doesn’t have a touchscreen, which would be nice for possible future Android app support. Also, these Core M CPUs are all fanless, which is kind of nice but they do get hot on the bottom under load and thermal throttle a little. See the footnote below for more detail about pricing and model comparison between all 4 versions of the HP 13.*
  • The Google Pixelbook is the latest flagship CB, starting at US$1k for the base i5 + 8 GB RAM + 128 GB SATA storage model and going up from there; the base model should be enough for pretty much everyone, however. There’s also a nice digital stylus, sold separately for US$100 however. The Pixelbook is a convertible with what may be the exact 2400x1600 display used in the Samsungs above. It has a very thin, portable design, long battery life, and Google Assistant built-in, a first for a CB. The Pixelbook is a halo device for sure, but is also being widely marketed and may actually be many consumers’ first CB, oddly enough.

*A note on the HP CB 13:

HP Chromebook 13 posted:

As of November 2 2017 you can find the promised heavily-discounted refurbished models of this CB on Woot.com at the following links: Pentium, m3, m5; m7. These will eventually sell out, but here are their current prices (original MSRP in parentheses):

$330 ($500) - Pentium/4 GB
$370 ($600) - m3/4 GB
$470 ($820) - m5/8 GB
$530 ($1030) - m7/16 GB

(Note the original MSRPs - this is what I meant when I said you could get refurbished CBs at as low as half MSRP!)

The Pentium model is fine for most people (that CPU in particular corresponds to one of the more typical Core-based Celerons (e.g. 3205U) and at the other end the m7 is also probably overkill for most people. The m3 is probably worth the $40 bump over the base model; keep in mind everything is soldered on these (and most other) CBs so you're not going to be able to upgrade the CPU/RAM down the line even if you wanted to. The m5 isn't as big a boost over the m3, but it's complicated by the fact that the former gets double the RAM; that alone would probably justify jumping to the m5. However, the pricing further complicates the situation. Given the overall prices of the refurbs, the $100 bump between the middle models is more difficult to justify, especially when the top model is only $60 more and it gets both the fastest CPU and another double of the RAM. I'm not saying you should jump all the way from the Pentium to the m7, though.

Ultimately, the m3 is definitely worth the cost and the upgrade over the Pentium. If you use dozens of tabs at once, and especially if this is going to be your main machine, the m5 is worth that price, although it's only because of the RAM upgrade. In short, if you're considering the Pentium, the m3 is worth your extra $40, and if you're considering the m5, the m7 is worth $60; it's that $100 m3-m5 jump that largely depends on whether you're going to leverage the extra RAM.

Update 11/16/2017: Added spreadsheet.
Update 11/2/2017: Added HP CB 13 model comparison & pricing.
Update 10/29/2017: Added Zipso.net CB chart.

Atomizer fucked around with this message at 20:13 on Nov 16, 2017

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Android Central has an article about Chrome & Chromebooks that I feel is a good alternative introduction to the topic. I'd like to reproduce it here with forum-friendly reformatting, if that's OK with everyone. I believe that actually showing the text will get people to read it rather than including a one-line URL that will just get skimmed over. If pasting the article in its entirety here is not OK, I understand and will delete it. Again, this article is not my work; copyright is owned by the original author Jerry Hildenbrand and AndroidCentral.

Android Central posted:

Chrome: Everything you need to know!

BY JERRY HILDENBRAND Tuesday, Nov 7, 2017 at 1:00 pm EST

Chromebooks, apps, browser extensions, you name it. If it's about Chrome, here's the place to start for anything and everything you need to know.

You know Google Chrome. It's on your phone, on your computer and might even be powering your laptop. It's one of Google's most ambitious projects and it plays a big part of their strategy for the web and mobile. Chrome is everywhere.

In typical Google fashion, Chrome also encompasses a bunch of things that we normally don't think of as being related. Google likes to unify stuff. Unifying things is good for development and is a great way to force innovation — making things do something new and work with other things is usually a good idea. But that can get confusing for people who just use products and services and don't need to know — or care — how the sausage is made.

That's where we come in. We love knowing how the sausage is made and we use Google's products and services. We can help you know everything you ever need to know about Chrome.

Chrome is a web browser

Google Chrome is the most popular web browsing software worldwide. Desktop and laptop computers use Chrome 60% of the time when they are on the internet. Mobile and tablet devices also use it 60% of the time. Even folks using an iPhone love Chrome.

Chrome is using a special version (known as a fork) of the WebKit engine developed by KDE in 1998 known as Blink. Apple Submitted major changes to the original in 2002 that were needed to allow the rendering engine to run on OS X and weren't fully compliant with the software license KDE required and this forked the project. Google had been a major contributor to Apple's version of the WebKit engine until they forked off Blink. With Chrome using the Blink engine, all Chrome-specific code — javascript hooks, platform code, build system tools and the like — has been removed from WebKit. Opera uses the same codebase as Chrome, and they too use the Blink engine. Amazon's Silk browser and Android also use the Blink engine for HTML rendering. Blink is just a refinement of the WebCore component of WebKit, and few if any issues are likely to arise for developers. All versions of Chrome on all platforms use the Blink engine except for the iOS version which uses Apple's Safari-exclusive version of WebKit.

Chrome's biggest draw is the way it syncs with your Google account. You can share bookmarks, open tabs, form data and more across every device that uses Chrome. This was a boon for mobile use and a big part of the adoption numbers.

Chrome is secure and Google sync works on every platform.
The Chrome browser also has support for sandboxed instances. Things you see or type in one tab are not normally visible to other tabs or other applications. Browser extensions work through the main Chrome instance and can affect every sandbox, but generally, things are kept separate. This can cause a high memory footprint as each tab occupies its own space in your RAM. It's a security feature that we depend on even if we don't realize it's there. The internet is not a very safe place, and every security feature helps. Other security features include a blacklist of sites that are potentially harmful and warnings when visiting sites that use a non-secure connection method.

Chrome is standards compliant, has a familiar and user-customizable interface and offers support for browser apps and extensions. This, as well as synchronization and security features, help make it the most popular web browser available.

Chrome is an operating system

Chrome is also a popular operating system for laptops, mini-PCs, and HDMI stick computers. Chrome OS includes the Chrome browser as a major component but it also has a long list of features of its own.

The Chrome browser runs better on a Chromebook that it does on more expensive computers. It was built from the ground up to be this way.
Chrome OS was designed from the ground up to be very lightweight. Like Android, it's a Linux-based system that Google has adapted to perfectly fit their needs. Chrome OS is responsive and capable on computers with specs that will barely support other operating systems, yet is scalable to take advantage of the most powerful components available. Using specially tweaked versions of standard Linux memory and process management tools like zRAM and a task scheduler, Chrome OS can take advantage of everything inside the computer it's running on for user tasks instead of operating system overhead. We still recommend you buy a machine with as much RAM and storage as you can, but it's important that the requirements are low. This is especially important now that Android applications can run on Chrome OS, since certain applications like Netflix and Plex will let you store videos offline. More storage means more movies, and more movies means more fun.

Besides running well on inexpensive hardware, Chrome can do everything most people want a computer to do.
Chrome is a complete operating system with platform support for third party applications. Multimedia features, GPU acceleration, human input device standards and more mean you can code applications specifically to run on Chrome and take advantage of the same hardware the system itself has access to. Security features and sandboxing also apply here, and applications are unable to directly interact with other applications or collect their data. The Chrome browser is a major component of Chrome and offers the same features available on Windows or Mac with a better performance to hardware ratio. This has to do with how the operating system handles the main Chrome process as well as child instances from tabs and other applications. In Chrome, things were designed with this in mind while the Chrome browser on other platforms has to work with the system calls and APIs exposed to it. The Chrome browser is a native application on Chrome OS, and it shows when you're using it.

Android and Google Play was recently introduced to Chrome OS. Running in a standard Linux container, Android is in its own sandbox while an abstraction layer handles communication between Android apps and the operating system. In layman's terms, you can think of Android as a separate section of Chrome with equal access to resources. There are very few Android apps that do not run on Chrome, and outside of things like launchers or icon packs most cases are because they aren't enabled by the developer. No changes to existing code are needed to run an Android app on Chrome, though developers are encouraged to be sure they have a pleasant layout designed for a much bigger screen and that their apps work well with a mouse and keyboard.

Google Play support is available on select Chromebooks and Chromeboxes, and there is a long list of other models that have support in the works. Future devices should run Android by default and include hardware (like sensors or a gyroscope) that make Android apps run even better.

Chrome OS has many great native applications, and the addition of Android will fill in the gaps for many of us. This, combined with the inexpensive prices, security, and ease of use are why we think Chromebooks are a great tool for almost everyone.

Chrome is built from open-source code

Both the Chrome browser and Chrome OS are built from open-source code. The Chromium and Chromium OS projects are very much like the Android Open Source project.

Everything needed to build a complete and fully-functional browser or operating system is available for anyone to use as they wish. Commercial distributions need to adhere to software license requirements, but outside of that, the code is fully modifiable and very easy to build. Open source releases of the Chromium project happen monthly and the project fully supports Chrome applications and extensions. Many popular Linux distributions offer Chromium because it's open and doesn't depend on closed proprietary code or binary files.

Chrome and Chrome OS are not open source. Like Android, where Google uses the open-source version with additions to build the software for the Pixel, Google and hardware partners take Chromium and use it to create the Chrome browser and use Chromium OS to build Chrome OS. Unlike Android, where device manufacturers are able to alter the software in ways that harm the platform, Chrome OS is controlled by Google. Hardware partners for Chromebooks and other Chrome OS devices help make sure things like the display and touchpad are compatible and extras like support for the ASUS cloud or HP device support can be added, but Chrome itself must ship as built by Google. This ensures a pleasant and familiar experience for everyone.

Chrome comes in a wide range of hardware

You can have a complete Chrome experience on an $80 Chromebit. You can also spend $1,700 dollars on an Google Pixelbook that has the latest hardware available. While one will handle more tasks at once than the other, the experience is exactly the same.

We're big proponents of Chromebooks around here. Unless I'm rendering a video or playing a game, there's a good chance I have my Chromebook in front of me when I'm on the computer. This includes my everyday work — I'm writing this post on my Chromebook sitting at a desk with a fully specced desktop that scores completely off the chart for Steam VR on it. Chromebooks are simple, intuitive and can do almost anything I need them to do. We think that for a good many people, the same will apply and a Chromebook is the best way to do computing safely and efficiently.

Chromeboxes are also pretty cool. Most are the same size as something like a Mac Mini and offer relatively high-end hardware at a very reasonable price. They make an excellent box in your entertainment stand that turns every TV into a smart TV, and when paired with a good monitor, mouse, and keyboard can offer a complete desktop experience for most everyone. They are also a great base for anyone who wants to roll up their sleeves and set up a media server or stand-alone firewall and router box.

A Chromebit is awesome for a traveler or anyone who is doing a business presentation. All you need it a TV with an open HDMI port and a small USB or Bluetooth input device and you have the entire web available with zero effort. They are a great way to have full access to your Google Play library, Amazon Prime library, Netflix and any other web-based service in your pocket, and Google Docs makes projecting spreadsheets or slideshows on a big screen simple. They are also great for the bedroom or anywhere space is at a premium. The fact that they are inexpensive is just a bonus!

Something for everyone

Chrome is Google's way to get more people online and part of the internet age. Whether you use the Chrome browser on your phone or PC, or have a Chromebook as your primary computer, or even carry your Chromebit with you everywhere you go, Chrome is there to make things easy.

Chrome is powerful, secure and easy to use. While it isn't the best solution for every task, we think you'll find it's very well rounded and suits most needs. The future for Chrome looks bright, and we're all going to be part of it together!

Update November 2017: This page was updated to reflect the latest news and information about Chrome.

Update 11/16/2017: Added initial AndroidCentral article.

Atomizer fucked around with this message at 21:00 on Nov 16, 2017

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Statutory Ape posted:

and also I was looking @ the new pixel CB last night and I have to say it is....ugly

E: there should be an indication which models use the correct charging port imo

e2: how much difference would i notice between the M3 and the M5 on the asus c302 in ChromeOS? in ubuntu?

The Pixelbook design is indeed a little...different. I'm not in love with that Pixel-smartphone-style glass panel but I understand it's there to improve antenna reception.

Most new CBs (i.e. anything from 2017 onward) charge via USB Type C PD; in fact, I don't know of a model from this year that uses a proprietary charger.

Those mobile/fanless Skylake chips from the 4405y to the m7 are basically just increasingly faster versions of the same thing; it's not like you're going from a dual-core, to 2C4T, to 4C, to a desktop 4C8T. For reference, the Passmark scores are roughly 2k, 3k, 3.3k, and 3.5k, respectively, so that's why I said the jump from the Pentium to the m3 was bigger than the jump between the subsequent Core m options. Those are synthetic benchmark results, but nevertheless those are again basically just the same CPU so they're among the closest-possible items to compare. The Octane results are around 15k, 23k, 29k, and 31k, respectively; that's a commonly used CB benchmark, and indicates the diminishing returns as you go up the model line. Plus, the bigger performance boost may be from going between 4 & 8 GB of RAM, as those amounts tend to be tied to those m3 & m5 CPUs, respectively, as in the HP CB 13.

So getting back to the C302: jumping up to the m5 version would probably not be particularly noticeable and only worth it if the price increase was modest (although the probable RAM doubling would be worth more, as you can't upgrade it yourself even if you wanted to.)

As far as performance in Ubuntu? That would totally depend on what you were running in it, but I still expect the performance difference to be barely noticeable. If you were doing some video transcoding or something CPU intensive on your CB in Ubuntu, then maybe you'd be able to benchmark the transcoding times and a faster CPU would be worth it, but these are all dual-core fanless CPUs, and I don't think many people are doing such activities on their CBs.

mystes posted:

You repeatedly use the term "ARC" to refer to running android apps on Chromebooks, but AFAIK the current system is not based on ARC which was the previous failed attempt to get Android apps to run on Chromebooks using a completely different approach.

(ARC was a chrome browser app using NACL or something to emulate android, wheres the current approach I think involved extending the kernel to support Android apis so they could be run directly in a chroot environment.)

Thermopyle posted:

I think this is correct.

A lot of current info on this subject confusingly continues to talk about ARC, but I think that's just people continuing to use an outdated term to refer to the new thing.

Even if technically correct, most people just refer to it as "Android apps on my Chromebook" anyway. I'd be fine changing the terminology to whatever is the least confusing, however.

mystes posted:

Also, are people really using chromebooks outside of education in 2017? I bought a cheap bay trail one a few years ago and since I have it lying around I'm using it with linux in situations (like if I'm going to need it to leave it in a locker at my gym) where I don't want to worry about my better laptop getting stolen. At the time, chromebooks were the only dirt cheap laptops that had solid state (although just emmc) storage, and they had better build quality than cheap windows laptops, but now there are more options on the windows side so I don't think it really makes sense to buy a chromebook just to install linux on it. Also, chromebooks now seem to be as or more expensive than equivalent windows laptops.

If you only need internet/word processing I can see chromeos working, but for the latter use the lack of Word or Libreoffice can be problematic. (I guess for kids writing reports for school they really only need the bare essentials so Google Docs would be sufficient.)

For people who are actually using chromeos without installing linux in whatever form, I would be curious to hear how they are actually using their computer.

I use a CB every single day. Most of my PC usage is in ChromeOS. I can do nearly everything on ChromeOS aside from obviously Windows-specific applications like games. You could technically install Ubuntu and run less-demanding Steam games on your CB, though. I also have a Windows machine running Plex Media Server, which again could technically be run on a CB.

The Bay Trail CBs are what I try to help people avoid buying. As minimal as ChromeOS's requirements are, Bay Trail is in my opinion inadequate for comfortable usage in that OS or Windows. The cheap (say, ~$300) CBs do indeed have better quality than similarly-priced Windows laptops; that was and still is the case. Check the cheap "Amazon Recommended" laptops for examples. Good CBs still run cheaper than acceptably good Windows machines; sure, there's a $350 Windows laptop that I recommend that requires about $100 in upgrades to turn it into the most acceptable new & cheap Windows device, and something like the Asus ZenBook is a reasonably priced entry-level Ultrabook in the $700-800 range. But most real "premium" Windows laptops like the XPS models or X1 Carbon run $1k and well above that. The point is not, as I already wrote in the OP, "you can just buy a Windows laptop for the same price as a CB!" It's "you can get a CB, if it suits your needs, and you won't have to deal with any Windows overhead or drawbacks."

Most people do Web browsing, productivity, streaming; all the tasks I wrote in the OP. Those are tasks at which CBs excel. Sure, I also play Windows games, but only a couple of days a week; I do all the basic tasks on a daily basis, and I don't need to fire up my gaming desktop to browse the Web or type on SA when I can just do it with my CB Pixel.

You can use office.com if Google Docs doesn't suit your needs. You could also do the thing with CRD and use your CB to remotely access a Windows desktop running the full Office suite if you absolutely needed to.

I did use Crouton on most of my devices, but eventually stopped using Ubuntu and even updating the chroots because it was unnecessary. There was nothing I needed to do on a PC that ChromeOS couldn't but Ubuntu could, because those were basically the aforementioned fringe Windows applications.

LionArcher posted:

I’m speaking as someone who’s in the market to buy a Chromebook.

I’m a publisher. I write and edit and publish books online. It’s my job. For the heavy lifting of making covers and publishing, I require photoshop and a mac (the best publishing program is mac only called Vellum). Considering any given month I’m juggling three of four releases, it also means I need Scrivener for the heavy lifting of editing and and all that. All of that I do on my 5k iMac. It’s the best tool for that job... however, my ancient (2009) MacBook Pro barely works, so for coffee shop writing, and for around my apartment as opposed to my office, I use an iPad Air 2 (which I’m writing this on,) and my iphone. That all being said, for traveling and coffee shops, I want a laptop again, if nothing else for the form factor.

So I look at the new apple laptops and go “I can pay a grand (or more) for a laptop that has a worse keyboard than the one on my laptop from almost a decade ago, for something that all I really need to do on it is write and listen to Spotify”.
Which lead me to chrome books. Now, a low res screen one does not appeal to me, but the Samsung pro, Or the one I most likely will get (HP G1 13 inch) has a screen that’s the equivalent of an apple Retina display. Now it does not have my preferred writing program, but for actual drafting all I really require is a black screen and green text. There’s a free google program (writer) that does just that, and syncs easily with my Imac. Copy paste over to scrivener, and it’s really pretty much seamless. Not to mention, even at it’s premium price ($650 brand new, and the refurbished knock it down to like $400) that beats any of the mac laptops I looked at.

This is exactly a CB use-case. You don't need to spend a goddamn grand on overpriced Apple junk (I really hate Apple, for many reasons, but will try to limit such discussion and focus on the main topic here) to type text and stream music! CBs offer a perfect mix of price, portability, and functionality, and the HP 13 is indeed one of the better ones. I've typed a lot on the HP 13's keyboard, and it's perfectly comfortable for me despite not having mechanical key switches, plus being backlit is a huge bonus. I can't actually recall a bad keyboard on a CB; the C100/C101's keyboard is the closest thing because it's cramped, by necessity, but otherwise the only other consideration you'd have to make is if you'd like the Thinkpad-style scalloped keycaps.

As I've mentioned, the HP 13 is frequently as low as half-MSRP refurb'd on Woot, so I'll post here the next time they're up.

You might also consider the Dell 13 (7310) as described in the 2nd post, because even though it's discontinued it's still one of the best CBs ever, all-around, even if it's one of the heavier ones. Check eBay, you can find them quite reasonably priced!

mystes posted:

My original goal was basically just to do word processing, so your use case makes sense LionArcher.

I had sort of forgotten about the exact details, but I just remembered that my main problem was that I was mostly using the chromebook without internet access (I was trying to use it during my commute on public transportation). This caused additional problems that I hadn't anticipated:
1) I didn't have the option of using web sites instead of apps for some things I needed (mainly a dictionary program)
2) There turned out to be lots of additional limitations in Google Docs when used offline. I think even spellchecking didn't work, which was really frustrating? I don't know if that is still the case.
3) Syncing was more finicky than I was hoping. It took some time to actually sync when I got my laptop online again, and it wasn't obvious that it had completed, which was frustrating when I was trying to switch between using my desktop at home and the chromebook. This might also be better now.

I think if you always have internet access when you're using the chromebook it will be a much smoother experience.

Also, a lot of it effectively comes down to how tolerable Google Docs is for your uses. I ended up realizing that I was wasting time because of minor formatting issues when converting to word files.

Edit: Also, at the time, trying to use ARC for android apps was an absolutely terrible experience (really slow to start apps and you couldn't even resize them; they all were one of two fixed sizes based on phone or tablet dimensions). I can imagine that the new system combined with termux covers a lot more use cases.

It still seems like you have to spend a lot of working getting back to where you would start on another operating system if your requirements are at all complicated, though.

I think offline implementations have improved over the past few years, but to be honest I don't really ever make use of offline services because nearly everything I do needs Internet access. Even creating this thread (in Google Docs) over a period of several hours required going back and forth in Chrome to get product links.

Spellchecking in Docs probably does require a connection; the application is not installed locally like you'd traditionally have Office or whatever so there's most likely no local dictionary to check against. I'm not sure about all syncing, but for individual file sync between Drive there are notifications with a progress indicator in the bottom-right corner.

I can see how spending time re-formatting in Word would be frustrating. You could potentially just type everything first, then paste into Word and do all the formatting there, which should approximate the total time you'd spend typing and formatting simultaneously in Word from the outset.

Android app performance is largely smooth now, although it's device-dependent (as in the OP, I find the C100 to be a little sluggish,) but you can otherwise run apps up to and including intense games (Vainglory, WoT Blitz, etc.) on an appropriate CB. Resizing is still an issue, although not necessarily a permanent one. Keep in mind some apps are portrait-mode only so you couldn't really take them full-screen, but I do agree maximizing their height on your CB would be nice. I do use most of my Android apps on actual Android devices, however, rather than on a CB.

Ultimately, ChromeOS isn't for everyone, but I stand by my statement that most people can use it for the general-purpose tasks they actually spend most of their time on.

Xeras posted:

I got directed here from the Laptop thread so. I'm looking at this chromebook as last time I was recommended an Acer 15. this seems to fit my needs of a big screen, backlit keyboard and not a flip/convertible. After reading the OP this seems like a better option, though?

I did reply in the main Laptop thread, but just to reiterate the Acer 15 does not have a backlit keyboard. Both of those models you linked, however, appear to be identical, just with white vs. black plastic.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Uncle Lizard posted:

I'm looking to get two of my kids Chromebooks for Xmas. They are about to go into high school, so they'll need something to do school work on, but I'm sure they'd like to play games also. I'm looking for the cheapest, yet still decent, Chromebooks that runs Android apps. Refurbished if perfectly fine, and one that converts interested a tablet would be a plus. What are my options?

Note this list from the OP and the recommendations in the 2nd post. I could probably highlight the ones that have Android app support in the stable channel....

Anyways, the Acer R11 at up to $300 or the Asus C101 at $300 would work, although the latter is small with a cramped keyboard so it would make typing more difficult unless they hooked up an external keyboard. The Lenovo Yoga 11e (3rd or 4th generation) would also work; it's a bit chunkier but more durable than the R11, and you can probably find examples in the $300-400 range if you don't look for brand-new current-gen ones. These are all 10-11" models, however, which means the display is a bit small to work on for long periods of time.

The Samsung CB Plus is totally worth it if you can find the refurbs on woot.com at $350, but they've only been sold twice and sold out within a few days. I'll post a link here the next time I see some good deals.

Your best bet is the Acer R13, which has nice hardware, an easy-to-read 13" FHD display, a good ARM CPU, Android App support, and you can currently find the 64 GB version refurbished directly from Acer's eBay store for around $300 (and they have 3 available at the moment!) I did see the 32 GB version for $250 a month or two back but they're not currently available for that price. Still, 64 GB of storage gives them more space for Android apps. Get this one, it's the best currently-available option for the price and it looks & feels more expensive than it is.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Mental Hospitality posted:

The 14in metal Acer Chromebook I bought over a year ago might be the best sub-$300 gadget I've ever bought. Wonderfully sturdy, 10+ hour battery, and great IPS display. Complaints are minor; I wish it had a backlit keyboard and the CPU is just this side of adequate (but for a passively cooled SoC it really isn't too terrible). It is an excellent couch machine.

And now I can install Play Store apps... that's so frickin cool.

I like that, "just this side of adequate," is an excellent way to describe the N3160 (and similar Braswell chips.)

Thermopyle posted:

Chromebook manufacturers seem to hate backlit keyboards.

Well I mean they're not that common on cheap Windows machines either, but they're becoming more popular overall. Remember, backlit keyboards haven't been around for all that long; before they existed IBM had that ThinkLight thing on Thinkpads that shone an actual light from the top edge of the display onto the keyboard, as sort of a ghetto lighting solution; that goes back over a decade. I do agree that actual backlit keyboards (and mechanical keyswitches) should be universal, however.

Uncle Lizard posted:

Thanks for the info. I found some ASUS C100PA-DB01 Chromebook Flip 10.1" for $189 refurbished. Is this a decent Chromebook and does it run Android apps? I have the Samsung Chromebook plus and I like it, but I'm not getting careless children a $450 anything haha

That's the one with 2 GB of RAM. Avoid it. Performance on the modest ARM CPU is barely passable as it is, and that's coupled with 4 GB RAM. Also, this exact device was just on sale refurbished on Woot.com three days ago for $150 so that's not even a good deal. $200 for the 4 GB version would be OK. Even still, like I said the 10" Flip is not that great as a productivity device because of the cramped keyboard, so if your kids are trying to type papers and get actual work done it will be more difficult for them. Realistically you're looking at an 11" or bigger device.

You should really expect to end up purchasing one of the devices I recommended in the $300 range, even if it's one of the rugged/Edu models like that Yoga 11e. If the kids are clumsy enough where you expect them to drop & break these things eventually, keep in mind spending the bare minimum on a cheap device and then having to replace it will be more expensive than buying them a tougher device in the first place that is specifically built to survive the kind of beating kids can deliver to it.

MrMoo posted:

The Acer Chromebook R 13 is nice but is it a lot heavier than expected, especially say compared with one of the first Samsung Chromebooks.

This is true, but that's to be expected since it's a larger device, 13.3" vs. 12.3". Approximately 3.3 vs. 2.4 lbs, nothing surprising about that. For reference the Dell 13 7310 is 3.6 lbs. and the Acer 15 is the heaviest at 4.9 lbs. The C100/101 are the lightest at 2 lbs. I have numbers on basically all of the devices I recommended, but in general many of the ~13" devices average a little over 3 lbs.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Da Mott Man posted:

I'll put in a word for the Dell Chromebook 11.

Pros:
I have beat the hell out of mine and it still looks brand new. Seriously, mine has taken a tumble off the top a moving car (don't ask, work stuff) and didn't even get a scratch.
You can pick them up for under $200 from Dell scratch and dent.
Keyboard and trackpad are of higher quality for the price.
Battery life is really good.

Cons:
The screen has bad viewing angles. Unless your looking at it straight on everything is washed out, lower quality TN screen.
Bulky, but this I give a half point because of the battery size and the ruggedness of the casing.
Tinny speakers.

I don't have a touch screen on mine so can't really comment on that.

The Dell 11 is one of those low-end, rugged/EDU models. It's comparable to, say the Lenovo 11e, but the Dell has a worse, dual-core N3060 (and it sounds like other low-end components, although CB keyboards and touchpads are generally universally pretty good at worst.) Its main advantage is being cheap and durable; otherwise, it's not a model I'd recommend, although of course it works just like every other CB.

FistEnergy posted:

Thanks for everything, Atomizer. I decided on the Acer CB 14 at the top of your recommendation list. Since I've never owned a Chromebook I figure I'll go with a nice looking/feeling entry-level unit. I've owned Acer Windows laptops in the past and they held up well and were a good value.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Woot has refurbished HP CB 13s on sale right now! Gogogogogogo!!!!!

Edit: I can offer my opinions if anyone's unsure on which of the 4 models to get.

Atomizer fucked around with this message at 08:28 on Nov 2, 2017

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


LionArcher posted:

Oh come on. I’m not ready to buy this till December. Grumbles. Okay, M3 or M5?

Ok, so here are the models at the current prices (original MSRP in parentheses):

$330 ($500) - Pentium/4 GB
$370 ($600) - m3/4 GB
$470 ($820) - m5/8 GB
$530 ($1030) - m7/16 GB

(Note the original MSRPs - this is what I meant when I said you could get refurbished CBs at as low as half MSRP!)

The Pentium model is probably fine for most people (that CPU in particular corresponds to one of the more typical Core-based Celerons (e.g. 3205U) and at the other end the m7 is also probably overkill for most people. The m3 is probably worth the $40 bump over the base model; keep in mind everything is soldered on these (and most other) CBs so you're not going to be able to upgrade the CPU/RAM down the line even if you wanted to. The m5 isn't as big a boost over the m3, but it's complicated by the fact that the former gets double the RAM; that alone would probably justify jumping to the m5. However, the pricing further complicates the situation. Given the overall prices of the refurbs, the $100 bump between the middle models is more difficult to justify, especially when the top model is only $60 more and it gets both the fastest CPU and another double of the RAM. I'm not saying you should jump all the way from the Pentium to the m7, though.

Ultimately, the m3 is definitely worth the cost and the upgrade over the Pentium. If you use dozens of tabs at once, and especially if this is going to be your main machine, the m5 is worth that price, although it's only because of the RAM upgrade.

FistEnergy posted:

Those look tempting but I have $200 in Amazon GCs tabbed for my Chromebook selection so

If you weren't specifically interested in the HP 13, that's fine. Otherwise it'd make sense to save the $200 on Amazon for other stuff and buy the heavily-discounted CB from Woot.

kimcicle posted:

I've been toying with the idea of buying a Chromebook as my secondary laptop when I travel for work (to separate work from personal). Is there a way to load up the chromebook with video files to watch while I'm on a plane, or is this a device that's better suited for streaming media off the internet instead?

In short, yes you can load videos on either internal storage or external (SD or USB) flash storage, and you can use the VLC extension for Chrome (although it hasn't been updated in awhile, it should still work) to play them. You should also be able to download video to watch offline on Netflix, Plex, and even Youtube, but in my preliminary investigation it looks like you'd need the Android apps for these, rather than being able to download directly from the Web pages. I'll investigate this a little later for you after I get the software updated. I've actually never used these "offline viewing" features because whenever I use any of the aforementioned video services it's always via streaming over a network.

Edit: To expand on the above, yes, you can use the download/offline features of relevant Android apps to save streaming content locally on your CB. This worked with Youtube and Plex, however the Netflix app didn't run on my C100; I hadn't even installed the latter because all of those services work just fine via their Web interfaces. I'd have to assume that the Android Netflix app works on some other CBs. The downside of all this is that the apps still can't see external storage; I'm not sure why, and this may or may not be something they resolve in a future update, but the end result is that if you want to save streaming content it has to be to the CB's local storage currently. You can still add flash storage and your own media and play them outside of any Android app, however.

Atomizer fucked around with this message at 02:44 on Nov 3, 2017

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


I wanted to share this deal alert story from Chrome Unboxed because a couple of the devices I recommend are going to be on sale. Starting 11/17 at Costco, you can get either the Acer 14 or the Acer R11 (the best models of either) for $200. That's a good price for a refurb of either of those, let alone a new one. It looks like, when active, the deals will be here and here.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


incoherent posted:

cross post from /r/sysadmin re: HP 11 chromebooks


4,000 deployment in 1 year with a 15% failure rate is pretty spectacular.

I actually just read this too! For what it's worth, I've never had an issue with any laptop, Windows or ChromeOS, HP or otherwise, except for Toshiba. Toshiba also stopped making laptops, hmm....



Eletriarnation posted:

It seems topical, so I'll mention CloudReady in case others might want to try it out. If you haven't used a Chromebook before and want to see what it's like to use the OS then you can use this with your existing PC hardware. I installed it on my 6 year old ASUS netbook with a single-core Atom N450 and 2GB of DDR2 and am surprised at how well it works. The hardware is slow, of course, but there don't seem to be any incompatibilities and the UI scales great to the 1024x600 screen. I'll probably leave it on this over my previous installs of Windows 10 (which also works OK, but is definitely more sluggish) or LXDE Fedora.

*Ahem*

Atomizer posted:

A company called Neverware maintains a ChromiumOS distro known as CloudReady. You can download it for free and create a USB flash drive-based installer to run on almost any existing system. Upon booting it runs as a live OS, letting you try it out before installing it locally. This is perhaps the best way to try out the OS to see if you can live with it, but it also allows you to repurpose some old hardware to get some more life out of it. Without going this route, you could also just install Chrome on an existing computer to see if you can do whatever you need to do with the browser before committing to a CB purchase.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


LochNessMonster posted:

I was looking to get a Chromebook for exactly this purpose. Did you set it up like that and if so, how did you like it?

Any recoomendations on what kinda CB would be nest suited? I’d like to use it as portable dev environment when I can’t take my 17” with me and/or as couch/bed machine to do some minor browsing/coding.

All CBs work the same, so your choice can be narrowed down to price and/or features. Do you have any questions about my recommendations in the 2nd post?

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


LochNessMonster posted:

I understand they all work the same, but I was wondering if for just (basic) development / browsing / managing remote machines (rdp/ssh) a 4GB model would be sufficient. Hence me asking if people are using the setup mentioned in that article.

At the moment I'm looking for a CB that's larger than 11" and smaller than 15" and which costs about 250 euro (290 dollar). The Acer Chromebook 14 CB3-431-C5FM mentioned in the recommendations looks perfect for what I want to us it for. The problem is, I can't find the C5FM model, just the C5FK which appears to be exactly the same, except it carries a 369 euro (428 dollar) pricetag. Which is a rather steep difference and outside of the price range I'm looking at.

Since you mentioned wanting to do both dev stuff and leisure activity, I'd lean you towards one of the "mid-range" convertibles in the 2nd post. If you're going to be spending a lot of time with a machine it should be halfway decent. The vast majority of CBs have 4 GB of RAM, which is fine if you're using upwards of a dozen or so tabs and I don't think the other uses you mentioned are any more demanding than that. What complicates matters is that you're outside the US and have a somewhat low budget, so actually finding devices that are available for you to purchase is going to be a challenge. Can you link that C5FK model so I can look at it? I'm not sure that's an actual official Acer model.

I think something like the Samsung CB Plus would work best for you if you stretched your budget a little and found a refurb, but failing that the Acer R13 is a nice alternative, and if you check eBay I'm pretty sure you can find one under your budget.


Cheesemaster200 posted:

I have have an old Acer 11" Chromebook that i bought 3-4 years ago, but the thing is starting to crap out. It also tends to be slow with video and the screen sucks. It used to not work with my office's Citrix server, but for some reason it does not. I don't know if that was Google or my office making an upgrade, but because of this Chromebooks have become 10x more useful to me.

I have also long ago made the decision to buy movies and what not in Google's ecosystem, and I like their offline functionality for long flights, etc. The Chrome movies app used to be horrendous, but they really fixed it up a lot.

I want a new Chromebook with a decent size & sharp screen, touch sceen, convertible and good performance. I have been strongly considering the pixelbook, but I haven't been able to mess around with it because it is only offered online. Anyone have any experience or heard good things about the Pixelbook?

One of the things I always loved about Chromebooks was that they were so cheap. My current one was like $200. I travel a lot, so if I lose or break it, I wouldn't lose much sleep. However, it seems they they are becoming more mainstream and feature heavy and I am considering getting a premium one (such as the pixelbook). I just don't know if is "there" yet. The early versions of offline docs, apps, etc, were extremely buggy.

Is the bolded sentence supposed to end "does now?" Because if that's the case then it's not so much that anything changed on the ChromeOS or Citrix end, your employer just permitted your client access.

The Pixelbook has been receiving rave reviews, although I'm holding out for the top model because I'm an idiot and am obsessed with CBs. You can just read any review; the consensus is that the hardware is excellent, it's simply expensive and you have to be able to work within the limitations of ChromeOS.

You might consider the "mid-range convertible" recommendations in the 2nd post, the Samsung Plus/Pro, Asus Flip, and even the Acer R13. The first two are ~$500 and are solid convertibles with good specs, and are much more reasonably priced alternatives to the $1k+ Pixelbook. Note that both the Asus Flip and Samsung Pro are getting upgrades to put them closer in performance to the Pixelbook, which will also put them closer in price to it.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Edit: Here's a slightly-discounted HP CB 13, the Pentium model for $300 (versus $330.) I'm not sure why they added another listing for this as it's still for sale in that other link.

LochNessMonster posted:

I see I called it C5FK but it’s actually C5K7. Here’s a link to the model: link

I think it’s the same model as the one you mentioned but for a different market. It’s only for sale under this type at several large retailers whereas the FM model is nowhere to be found.

I also looked into Samsung CB’s (even before finding my way to this thread), but Samsung pulled back all laptop/CB activities from my country and I can’t find any on either Amazon UK or DE so I assume they’re not available anywhere in Western Europe.

I’m not sure if I want to stretch my budget anywhere beyond 300 euro. I was looking for a lightweight/portable device I could take if I needed to go somewhere for an hour or 2 and didn’t wnat to bring my HP ZBook. Midrange might already be overkill as I expect to only use it for 1-2 hour periods at any given time.

If the price goes beyond 300 euros it might just not be worth it for me. Apparently CBs are awesome priced in the US but are almost 50% more expensive in Europe.

Ok, that Acer 14 looks fine as far as the display/RAM/CPU go. Like I've said, Acer makes a shitton of different models, and it's a headache trying to keep them straightened out.

It's true, the selection of devices and the pricing of them are both worse outside the US. It's pretty sad, because these are among the most flexible, easy-to-use devices that would put little burden on the tech support/customer service departments of any company selling them (except for the idiots who don't understand they're not buying a Windows machine) because they just work, there's very little to go wrong with a CB.

That Acer 14 is probably the best option in your case in terms of size, functionality, and price; there's really nothing else that I'd recommend for those parameters (unless you could miraculously find a used Toshiba CB 2 2015 with the 3205U.)

Atomizer fucked around with this message at 08:32 on Nov 7, 2017

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


NewFatMike posted:

Thanks for putting this thread together, Atomizer! Do you plan on keeping it more towards explicit hardware recommendations, or are news, updates, and things like that cool as well?

I envision this thread as a cross between the Chrome (browser) thread and the laptop megathread, but really you're free to post anything remotely relevant! I'll mostly be adding details about new software developments and of course new hardware recommendations in-between answering questions and helping people find the best CB for them.

Cheesemaster200 posted:

Err, yes. It works now. This essentially gives me a portal to my office windows machine with a full suite of engineering software. Aside from that, I don't really have any Windows specific programs that I use anymore. I am a bit of a Google whore, so all my docs, photos, calendar, contacts, movies, mail, etc. are all on Google cloud apps. That's why I really love the Chromebooks, it does everything I need very well.

This is why I've embraced them as well. When you don't need to run Windows software, why would you run the OS just for the hell of it to perform general-purpose tasks? ChromeOS does those things better, and you never have to worry about driver updates or security issues. (I mean practically speaking these things are pretty much covered for you, not that there couldn't theoretically be some unknown, 0-day vulnerabilities.)

NewFatMike posted:

Just that it was the tablet-specific flavor of Android. Chromebooks replacing Android tablets is a common discussion lately, and I think it's cool.

E: neat! A beta program to run Windows programs on Chrome:

https://www.androidcentral.com/cros...pps-chromebooks

Ah, I had forgotten about Honeycomb! I know a lot of people are bothered that Android tablets don't really have tablet optimizations generally and basically just run the phone OS, but that's never concerned me. Android tablets do exactly what I need them to do, and that's run Android apps. I don't give a poo poo if there's no tablet-specific Android version or whatever.

I was going to post something about CrossOver after trying it myself. In the meantime, AndroidCentral also has another "all about ChromeOS" article that I really like; it's basically a different take on my OP here. I kind of want to post it here, maybe in that third reserved post, but I don't want to break any rules regarding posting third-party content even if it's cited. Maybe I'll mark it up and add annotations when I get the chance; I really do think it's a good [alternate] assessment of what CBs are and why you'd use them.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


KingKapalone posted:

Accidentally posted this in the laptop megathread: "My coworker is looking for a few Chromebooks for her 9 year old triplets. Have any good BF deals been posted for them?"

I've seen the BF ad for Best Buy with the two Samsungs for $100 and $120. Wondering if those are the best bet.

For that price, the $120/4 GB RAM one is probably the best bet. Never get less RAM than that. I'm still not a fan of the N3060 (it's a low-end dual-core, and the quad-core N3150/3160 are better,) but if you're buying 3 of them and need to keep the price as low as possible I don't see an obvious better choice. You generally have to spend closer to $300 to get a solid CB. However, if the following sales materialize then I would absolutely recommend either of the following options for $200 even though they're almost double the Samsung's price:

Atomizer posted:

I wanted to share this deal alert story from Chrome Unboxed because a couple of the devices I recommend are going to be on sale. Starting 11/17 at Costco, you can get either the Acer 14 or the Acer R11 (the best models of either) for $200. That's a good price for a refurb of either of those, let alone a new one. It looks like, when active, the deals will be here and here.

hotsauce posted:

Picked up a pixel book today with the pen. Oh my this thing is outrageously beautiful.

Pics or it didn't happen. Also, plz make them horny & sexy.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Thermopyle posted:

Let us know if mkbhd's criticism of the pen is accurate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ja_GMU7-sjs

That looks like a malfunctioning stylus/digitizer/whatever.

I like his review, and he gets the convertible-compromise issue spot-on. Also, I noticed the same thing regarding the Chrome/Android shortcut duplication; when I was testing out whether or not you could cache video from streaming services (Plex, Netflix, YT, etc., and the answer by the way is "yes," to internal storage only,) I ended up not being able to differentiate which version was which, and ultimately uninstalled the Android versions (which were completely unnecessary, as the Web versions work fine.) Also, I have YT notifications turned on and I was getting duplicates, one each from the Web and Android apps....

Marques still falls for the fallacy of, "Why spend $ on A when you could spend the same on B?" WHAT IF I DON'T WANT B?!? gently caress B!!! Seriously, if I was in the market for a tablet maybe (but not really) I'd consider an iPad, Pro or otherwise. But if you're looking for something with a built-in keyboard then tablets are out. If I was interested in [another] CB, why would I side-step to a MacOS or Windows device? I don't care if they cost the same, I don't have any MacOS-specific applications, have no need for anything that runs on that OS, don't want to pay the Apple Tax, and anything that the device can do the CB can do at least as well. The same for the Surface or any other alternative Windows device: if ChromeOS does what you're looking for then why would you add complexity? I like never having to deal with complex system or driver updates (ChromeOS handles this in the background and usually requires only a quick reboot whenever you're ready) not to mention exploits/viruses/etc.

And all of that criticism doesn't get into the added functionality that CBs get from Android apps and potentially other software in the future with containers. Seriously, if you're in the market for a CB because they do everything you need, why the gently caress would you instead buy a Mac or Windows system?!?

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Abel Wingnut posted:

so why is a pixelbook worth $1000? i know little about it

The same reason any other device is worth that much: performance, build quality, features. In this case, the Pixelbook is among the best-performing CBs; it basically matches any other of the highest-end i5/i7 CBs like the 2015 CB Pixel, Acer CB for Work, Toshiba Thinkpad 13, etc. It has a build as nice as any other premium laptop (metal & glass.) It's a convertible with a high-res display, backlit keyboard, and stylus support.

The "cost" is $1k or more; it's "worth" that much if you spend a lot of time using it. Nevertheless, you can spend less money than that and get a nice ChromeOS experience.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


NewFatMike posted:

Re: iPad Pro, I think the Pixelbook is for the same *kind* of consumer, just if they fall more on the development side vs creative side, I guess. I'm still learning my way around some of the software that I bought the iPad Pro for workflow-wise, but for sketching and some relatively simple 3D modeling, it's doing a real good job. It's a very narrow line, like one or two exclusive apps or mouse support, that separate a Pixelbook buyer from an iPad Pro buyer.

MKB also fails to note that for your grand, you get there keyboard included on the Pixelbook, and sometimes the smart keyboard is a little finicky on the iPad.

If I find myself with the money, I might pick up whatever Samsung comes up with to replace their current Chromebook Pro next year to compare more similar products.

Computers are cool! Sucks that MKB has a broken stylus.

Samsung's going to upgrade the specs on the Pro to put it closer to the Pixelbook in terms of performance. The same is the plan for the Asus Flip C302.

When I compare a tablet to an actual laptop with a built-in keyboard, I'm referencing the fact that no keyboard cover/detachable keyboard setup with a kickstand for the tablet comes close to the usability of an actual laptop setup. So while tablets are better for consumption and I guess you can get some sketching or whatever done on the iPad Pro, I'm considering CBs to be in a separate category where text input is a priority. I type a lot (if that wasn't obvious) so a laptop setup (or even a desktop with a nice mechanical keyboard) is necessary. Not everyone has the same use case as me, of course.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Statutory Ape posted:

Do we have even a rough timeframe on this? Where do you read about this stuff?

Timeframe: Soon™. Although to be fair the C302 has already had some other modes, notably a high-end m7 one only available in the UK.

I first read about this on Chrome Unboxed, the article is linked in the 2nd post under the description for the Samsung CBs in the recommendation section.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Cheesemaster200 posted:

Does anyone think Google with drop the price of the Pixelbook for Black Friday or the holidays?

I don't really expect this to happen, at least not as long as it's selling reasonably well. This is partially because it's a brand-new product; if it was released in, say, March, then yeah, I could see them giving it a little discount after half a year. But even if it's profitable, with a healthy margin, discounting a new product so soon after launch can give the impression that it's not selling well, that maybe they want to clearance it out, etc. You wouldn't want prospective customers to think you're abandoning a new product.

But who knows, I could be totally wrong!

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Edit: I've added a CB spreadsheet to the 2nd post and a helpful AndroidCentral article to the 3rd post.

MrNemo posted:

Ok this is probably going to seem like a dumb question first of but important. Work occasionally requires me going to China (like once a year or so). Are Chromebooks totally inoperable there? Are there VPN options with them? It's rare enough it's not necessarily a deal breaker but couldn't find anything immediately online.

Secondly, my main use for something like this would be basic email, browsing, etc on the move. Previously I've used a tablet for this which is great for media and sooner browsing but I nearly always need to bring my laptop if I'll be doing any serious typing or even lots of emailing. I'm very envious of a friend's Macbook Air; are there similar lightweight, good quality Chromebook options?

I can't help you about going to China specifically, but Thermopyle probably addressed your concerns. I also linked the Hotspot Shield VPN extension in the OP.

For actual CB recommendations, see the 2nd post.

MrNemo posted:

Ok well that sounds like it's not that much worse than another laptop. Any suggestions on small firm chrome books with good build quality then? I'd be tempted with a Macbook Air but I really don't want to get into the Apple ecosystem. Chromebooks all look somewhat bulky but is that just design?

Please read the 2nd post. I spent several hours writing everything and have provided specific recommendations. I've even added a spreadsheet so you can see weights in particular (sizes are largely dictated by display size, also listed.) CBs actually tend to be fairly small; 11-13" displays are most common, with the Acer 15 being somewhat of an anomaly. If you want "Macbook-like" any of the ones under the "premium" sections would suffice (they all have nice metallic builds) in addition to the Acer 14. The Asus Flip C101 is also nice and super-portable but more difficult to type on due to the small keyboard.

MrNemo posted:

Is that the model with the M3 or m7 processor? Trying to figure if £100 extra is worth it for the higher spec processor.

In the 2nd post at the bottom I specifically discussed the Core M CPUs with regards to the HP 13.

Statutory Ape posted:

C302ca is light and also good. Despite the xps13 im ordering next week theres a nonzero chance ill own that chromebook soon too


I have...a problem

I think I have the same problem as you.

Flash Gordon Ramsay posted:

I read the OP but I'm still at a loss as to what to get my 12 year old daughter. She has one issued by her school but wants one of her own. She takes good care of her devices, so ruggedness doesn't need to be a top priority. A larger screen would be good but I don't want to sacrifice processor power to get the the large screened ACER mentioned in the OP. Is a touch-screen useful?

Is this overkill?

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/samsun...ilver/5620405.p

Please help, thread. I'm drowning in options.

Flash Gordon Ramsay posted:

I see the Samsung is pictured with a stylus. Does this have that capability? I'm not familiar with what kind of touch screens these things use.

edit: Can't go wrong with a processor that fast I guess



I suggest reading the 2nd post, but that Samsung Plus you're looking at is one of my recommendations. It does indeed come with the stylus, which it can use with Android apps (to which this CB has access out of the box.) Also, the touchscreen (plus convertibility) is indeed useful both with general ChromeOS navigation and especially with Android apps.

If she takes care of her devices I don't think the Samsung is overkill. She'll really like it, and it does as much as you'd expect from any CB. I'll note that I got one refurbished from woot.com for $350, and you can find it for well under $400 on Amazon if you look for used/refurb'd. At around that price the only other suggested alternative would be the Acer R13 (around $300 on eBay, refurb'd direct from Acer) which is a little bigger, without a stylus, and with a wider display.

Atomizer fucked around with this message at 21:01 on Nov 16, 2017

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Statutory Ape posted:

I should say that the biggest reasons I prefer the c302ca to the samsung(s) is that the battery life is reportedly considerably better, and I actually do a ton of side by side multitasking so 16:9 is actually a much better aspect ratio for me. The 64gb storage of the c302ca doesn't hurt either considering I also wanted something to throw ubuntu onto potentially just to play around.

I really doubt your daughter gives a poop about literally any of that, tho if shes gonna be netflixin' on it then 16:9 is prolly better for her

It basically comes down to:
Samsung Plus: Price, stylus, 3:2
Asus Flip: 16:9, maybe battery life?, maybe more storage

I don't doubt the concerns about battery life, although I've found that it's difficult to get reliably comparable numbers between different models, plus actual longevity will widely vary based on individual usage. Also, the Flip has the potential for more storage because there are more variants, like the Samsung Pro, whereas there's just the one Plus (which is going to remain that way, AFAIK.) The display aspect ratio is also not a huge difference (compared to, say, an ultra-wide.) I still think the Plus, at a good price, is going to be the best option for a 12-year-old.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Deal alert: The Acer CB 14 "for Work" is $390 for the i3/8 GB version. That's a decent price for a rugged, fast CB with a backlit keyboard (but no touchscreen.)

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


MrNemo posted:

Thanks to atomizer again. Sounds like problems with a Chromebook behind the great firewall won't be too different from any other device and there are VPN options, so that's cool.

I've looked through the second post and am leaning towards a c101 for price and portability. That said I'm wary of the size as I had one of the early eee notebooks years ago and it was a pain to use. From limited testing the keyboard on this did seem a lot better. I also recall that notebook becoming unusable after about a year due to is bloat and not being able to reformat the drive partitions.

The c301 and r13 were both definitely too big but the shop I had a look in didn't have a c302. I am bad at judging size without a physical thing so will try and find somewhere I can actually hold one and make up my mind. If it feels too big to be really portable I'll go with the 101.

Thanks again for all the info!

Yeah, I haven't been to China and have no idea what technical difficulties you'll encounter, but it'd be the same situation if you were running Windows or MacOS.

The C101 is discounted to $270 new on Amazon now but you can find Warehouse Deals for about $230. The keyboard is definitely on the small side, though; my C100 is specifically nice for media consumption rather than content creation due to that, and because the whole device is so tiny/light it's easy to just throw it in a bag and take it with you. That being said, if you're at all concerned about the keyboard a larger device would be a good idea. The Samsung CB Plus is currently $350 new, which is what I just paid for a refurb about a month ago! The [base model] Samsung Pro is $450, which also isn't a bad price (the refurbs I saw on woot were $400.) These are ~12" devices and are a good compromise in usability vs. portability (not to mention performance!)

The fantastic thing about ChromeOS is that there's no "OS bloat" to speak of (that's a Windows thing) and you don't have to worry about reformatting or reinstalling. You can always do a Powerwash if you so desired (especially if you need to do that firmware update for the TPM vulnerability.)

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


MrNemo posted:

Problem I've discovered: the UK is not so great for Chromebook availability, definitely for Samsung. The pro and plus don't seem to be available here. I've discovered eBay based refurb models though so might look into getting the Asus c302 for around £400 after cyber Monday in case there's a good deal.

I mention this in the 2nd post; for whatever reason CB pricing and availability is wildly inconsistent outside the US. I think some EU guys in the UK import from Germany (maybe Amazon.de?) Or else it's the other way around. Your best bet is probably going to be worldwide shippers on eBay.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


The Asus Flip C101 is currently $250 new, its lowest price ever, with used/Warehouse Deals options at ~$212 (about $225 after tax.) That's a drat good deal on the smallest, most portable CB, and considering the increased performance and upgrades (e.g. USB-C) it completely obsoletes the original C100. The only downside is the limited storage, particularly considering that this gets Play Store access on the Stable channel. My C100, for example, which also has 16 GB of storage nominally, ends up being around 10 GB user-accessible. They may or may not come out with a version of this with more storage; I could see them not doing that considering there's already the C302 flip in multiple variants with 64+ GB of local storage. If you're just planning on installing quality-of-life Android apps and not huge games it should be fine.

You cannot currently access external storage (i.e. SD/USB) from Android apps, which may or may not be "fixed" in the future as it may or may not be a security "feature" of the Android implementation.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


MrNemo posted:

Well black Friday cometh and the c302 was down to £430 on Amazon, the flip was reduced to £300 so I figured I'd go with the bigger brother. Hopefully I don't discover I have the OS but it sounds like it can handle what I use my laptop for and most of my tablet too (except for taking dive log information off my dive computer, which is quite a niche use). Will give a report back in case anyone else is thing of the jump and would be interested in a first hand report.

Thought I'd ask as I couldn't find an immediate answer online, the 302 can access the play store, can I use it for Skype through the android app?

Welcome to the club, and I'm sure you'll like the Flip!

The dive logging thing is indeed niche, although if the software has a Linux version, you could take the extra step and install Ubuntu on your new CB.

Skype should indeed work via the Android app. I've literally never used Skype, but for the hell of it I installed the app on this CB (HP 13, which just recently got Play Store access) and it seems to run fine here.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


MrMoo posted:

Random Chromebooks are appearing on Amazon for as low as $134 as part of the hourly Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals, last one was an 11inch HP.

They're not all necessarily worth buying, though; $134 is a waste if it has a lovely display, CPU, or 2 GB of RAM!

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


MrMoo posted:

idk, the < $200 seems surprisingly not terrible, 4GB ram and even matte screens. I think this was the model I saw on discount:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HHB8B9...1_t2_B010C93X5M

It's pretty much your generic 11" CB, but I recommend the quad-core N31x0 as opposed to the N30x0 CPUs. You could get the Acer R11 for about $100 more (or less) with the same display and RAM, N3150, and it's a touchscreen convertible with Android app functionality.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


TenaciousTomato posted:

I am torn between getting the R11 for my dad as a Christmas gift, in the case he wanted to use the touchscreen / Android apps, or the vanilla CB3 on sale.

He would probably use the features of the former, but the Acer CB3-131-C8GZ is up for $129 and is slated to get Google Play Store access. Should bite the bullet and go for touch-screen/quad-core on the first go round?

The R11 is far better in terms of features (convertible, touchscreen, better Android app integration) and performance (much better CPU.

As per those CBs on sale:

Dr. Eldarion posted:

Amazon has an Acer Chromebook Sale running.

Acer Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ 11.6-Inch Laptop (Intel Celeron N2840 Dual-Core Processor,2 GB RAM,16 GB Solid State Drive,Chrome), White $99.99
Acer Chromebook 11, 11.6-inch HD, Intel Celeron N2840, 4GB DDR3L, 16GB Storage, Chrome, CB3-131-C8GZ $129.99
Acer Chromebook R 13 Convertible, 13.3-inch Full HD Touch, MediaTek MT8173C, 4GB LPDDR3, 32GB, Chrome, CB5-312T-K5X4 $289.99
Asus Chromebook Flip C302 with Intel Core m3, 12.5-Inch Touchscreen, 64GB storage and 4GB RAM $386.99

The Flip & R13 are the only two worth considering, but they both seem to be sold out at least temporarily at those prices. The Flip is absolutely the way to go at <$400, but if you can't spring for that (if and when available) the R13 is good, but also fairly large in comparison to the trending 12" models.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


TenaciousTomato posted:

Went with the Flip (Used - Very Good) since I missed the original sale. Pumped! I'm going to unbox it before Xmas and make sure it's good to go. $350 shipped through Amazon Warehouse. Thanks dood!

That's still a good price, and I've had nothing but good luck with Warehouse Deals. You'll like this CB!

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


MrNemo posted:

Welp got it up and running and for the first hour or so it seems really good. Very fast and responsive, android app integration seems to be ok though far from perfect. Airbnb won't run although that's the only app that seems to be really having problems. I'm currently typing this into Awful app that looks great. Form factor is pretty nice, maybe a touch on the large end but easily portable and comfortable to type on. Sound quality is really lacking if used in the self supported tablet mode (where the keyboard props up the screen) as the speakers are on the side the keyboard. In actual tablet mode it's not great but not awful.

Need to go through OP's extension recommendations again but KeePass integration for Chrome seems to work really well with KeePass as a password manager. Note Lastpass was fixed with Chrome itself but looks like ChromeOS still doesn't like it. Just in case anyone else here uses password managers. Only 2 issues so far, had a problem with switching to tablet mode disabling the trackpad and not being able to get it back online, required a restart. The other one is needing to enter my Google password to boot up the computer. I've got a longish password that I try to change, are there any other options as it'll be a bit of a pain to have to enter frequently.

Edit: I've tried a couple more times and it seems like any time I switch the computer to tablet mode by swinging the screen over, the touchpad goes off. Only way to get it back on seems to be rebooting. Is this a known problem or a solvable one?

Android apps are kind of hit or miss, but thankfully mostly "hit" so far; it seems like there are random ones that don't work, but you can expect most of them to be fine.

As far as passwords go, I get that you'd prefer something simpler, like biometrics, but the point of having a complex password is ultimately to make it more difficult for someone else to get in. If it's too much of a pain to input, users develop bad habits, and if it's too simple then security is at risk. I don't know of a specific way to make it easier for you to login, but current password recommendations seem to be for long combinations of words, rather than trying to be clever with digits, characters, and case, like "P4s$w0rd"; something like "CurrentPasswordRecommendations" would be better, because it's easier to remember, easier to type, and harder to brute-force (as long as you don't use a phrase like that that's been seen elsewhere; if you were going to brute-force a password you'd start with shorter ones first, so the longer the better.)

That's the first time I've heard of the touchpad thing, but it sounds very fixable because it's basically just the system turning off the touchpad in tablet mode (which is the intended function) and forgetting to turn it back on again. Submit a bug report by pressing Shift+Alt+i and typing the details; eventually when they figure out the issue and fix it it'll be pushed out in a future OS update. You could certainly contact Asus for support as well; they'll probably initially suggest trying a hardware reset which fixes certain issues and is what I had to do occasionally on a 2013 Pixel that lost touchscreen functionality periodically (I never turned it off, only rebooting it for updates.)

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Statutory Ape posted:

Between the Samsung Pro and the c302ca which is generally considered to have the better build quality? c302ca?

I'd say they're both about the same.

MrNemo posted:

Can't speak to build quality comparison but from online shopping, the Samsung has a better screen, the Asus has a backlit keyboard. It sounded like both had pretty good build quality, I'm certainly happy with the 302c after a week or so of use.

Quick question after seeing the Pixelbook in action with the pen, is the pen's features (the google seach integration) a Pixelbook only thing or will it work with other chromebooks?

I do think that the Samsung has a better display, if only because 3:2 is better for productivity over an "ordinary" 16:9 FHD panel, regardless of how good it is.

The Pixelbook's stylus, as far as I know, is only functional on that device. It's a stylus + digitizer integration, and some CBs don't even have digitizers. The Samsungs have a passive stylus, by contrast.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Jigoku posted:

Has anybody tried the Microsoft Office Android apps on a Chrome book? How do they compare to the iOS apps on the iPad? Thinking of getting my girlfriend a regular iPad or a chrome book for Christmas.

She's going to end up using it mainly for consumption but will want to be able to use Gmail and Office for work once in awhile. We want to avoid using Google Drive for work because we have had formatting issues in the past when converting Word files and Sheets sometimes messes up our simple formulas.

I have no experience with the iOS versions, but the ones that run on ChromeOS are identical to the Android apps (because that's what they are.) The Office Android apps appear to work well, but I mainly use Google's suite.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


mango sentinel posted:

Exactly how much better is the Samsung screen than the 302 and how much does the weird resolution matter?

My wife is considering between these two and all she would use it for is web browsing and video.

The Flip has a typical FHD display, and it's 12.5". 1080P, 16:9, etc.; this is a small, but nice panel. It's perfect for watching HD video.

The Samsungs have a taller display, 12.3", with a much higher resolution. It's much better for everything except watching wide video formats; in other words, productivity, reading, browsing, etc., will all be better with a 3:2 aspect ratio because Web pages aren't super-wide, and of course books and other printed media are taller than they are wide.

Note that since both displays are somewhat small, you'll probably use the zooming/scaling features to run them at an effectively lower resolution most of the time; the full functionality of their native resolutions is still there for actual high-resolution content (i.e. photos & video) when necessary.

So for Web browsing and video? It's kind of a toss-up. Both are recommended, so see which one you can find at a better price. Note that even though both have (now or in the near future) higher-spec versions you don't need more than the base m3/4 GB models.

chocolateTHUNDER posted:

I would be aware that I'm pretty sure you have to have an Office 365 sub to actually edit files on the ChromeOS/Android Office apps. Viewing documents is free.

I don't use MS Office, but I don't think this is true at all. Go to www.office.com and see for yourself; just as a test now, I seem to be able to edit documents without a subscription.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Cheesemaster200 posted:

So I am continually torn between the Samsung Chromebook Pro and the Google Pixelbook.

Part of me wants the added computing power and backlit keyboard, but my rational half is saying I really don't need all of that for an extra $500. I also like the compactness of the Samsung. The pixelboox is bigger and have squared off corners, which makes it harder to quickly throw in a backpack or something. Similarly, I always liked the cheap cost of chromebooks given that I travel a lot with it, etc. If I lose it, it is not the end of the world compared to a $1500 Surface or something.

That being said, the Pixelbook is really nicely built, and has the horsepower. I have an older chromebook and I feel it gets laggy if I have 4-5 tabs open, especially if there are lots of video ads. I want to avoid that.

The Pixelbook is like a higher-end Samsung Pro, both being 3:2 convertibles with stylus support. You don't need the Pixelbook, but it's there if it's appropriate for you. Note that like Mike said, they're updating the Samsung Pro and the Flip C302 with higher-spec models (to close the gap between them and the Pixelbook) and supposedly the Samsung's going to get a backlit keyboard like the Asus has.

Jigoku posted:

Thanks. Yeah, I have a subscription.

I'm very averse to web apps myself, but yeah. I'll see if she thinks the office web app is usable.

Like I said, I don't think that's even true, but fortunately you can try it for free before you buy any new hardware.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


hotsauce posted:

I know the Pixelbook is double the cost, but I'd recommend it over the Samsung CBP all day long. I had the Samsung a few months ago and returned it inside of 2 weeks. The keyboard is so, SO bad. I wasn't even fussed about it not being backlit; the key travel and overall feel is really poor. It aggravated me every time I typed something. Then there's the trackpad...it's real bad too.

The Pixel is far superior in the keyboard and mouse aspect, which is really important to me as those features are used all day every day. Is that worth $500? Up to you, but it certainly was for me.

The one thing I noticed about the Samsung Plus keyboard was that those keys depress below the deck, so you hit them every time you try to type something.

Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


MrNemo posted:

I might be easily pleased but I have to say I've been pretty happy with the build quality of the 302c. It's actually been better than my noticeably more expensive Windows Asus laptop. Performance has had an issue, Amazon video was stuttering like hell with a downloaded video. Entirely possible that's an issue with the android app though.

How about streaming video from Amazon via the Web interface?

Note that there are Google-inflicted video performance issues due to codec preference and lack of hardware support, specifically with streaming from Youtube to ChromeOS, although other hardware is affected. I linked to h264ify in the extensions section of the OP which specifically addresses this issue, which I also elaborated on in the OP.

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Atomizer
Jun 24, 2007

Bote McBoteface. so what


Current sales on Woot. They've got the HP 13 and Samsung Plus for $350.

Statutory Ape posted:

its amazing that theres a conflict with googles OS and googles video service

That's not quite an accurate assessment of the situation, which, again, I described in more detail in the OP. To sum up, though, there's a lack of hardware support (at least until recently) for the royalty-free codec Google's trying to advocate.

Atomizer fucked around with this message at 09:41 on Dec 8, 2017

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