When I first heard about Chromebooks, I thought they were a cool idea and made a mental note to one day buy one.
Last year I sold my laptop and bought a PC to handle the more demanding tasks of my work (games, of course).
But as I planned to travel more, I needed something more mobile to take with me on my travels. While randomly browsing Amazon, I came across some Chromebooks, and I decided to grab one.
I waited patiently like a kid on Christmas for the package to arrive, refreshing the package tracking every few minutes. Eventually, it showed up, and I had my first taste of a Chromebook.
Since then, I had the chance to play around with it quite a bit, even took it on my last trip to Tokyo, Japan.
My Chromebook Model: C201, 11.6 Inch
The Chromebook I bought is one of the older and more budget models, I bought a little case for it too.
It doesn’t come with a case so make sure to buy one to keep it from being scratched up when you travel.
Actually, I think it’s the cheapest Chromebook on Amazon; ASUS C201 11.6 Inch Chromebook (Rockchip, 4 GB, 16GB SSD, Lotus Gold/Red)
Right off the bat, I fell in love with the design: very crisp, modern, and lightweight.
It’s kind of like a regular Windows netbook but with all the unnecessary features stripped and loaded with a different operating system. The keyboard is quite small – no number pad or FN keys.
But the keys are very responsive and soft – really easy to type on – though I kept pressing backspace on accident.
If you’re used to using a regular size PC keyboard, it will take sometime to get used to the small Chromebook keyboard.
Keep in mind, there are much larger and newer Chromebooks, my model is one of the smallest. So the whole design and feel of it is really nice – smooth surfaces – and no stickers other than the small Chrome OS logo.
Basically it looks really clean and neat.
I chose the red version, but there are white and blue versions too.
The red fades into white near the hinges of the screen; the darkest part is facing towards you.
This particular model doesn’t have especially powerful hardware but I was pleasantly surprised by the speed.
There is a 16 GB SSD drive installed and the Chrome OS only takes a few seconds to start.
The processor is called Rockchip and the speed is clocked at 1.8 Ghz – basically like any modern smart phone.
It also comes with 4 GB of ram. The Chrome Browser tends to eat up a lot of RAM, so don’t try to open too many tabs.
The hardware is pretty standard.
I like how light the whole laptop is too, it weighs less than a kilo so you can take it around with you anywhere.
The battery lasts for a surprisingly long time too, I think it lasts for around 12 hours on a full charge.
The Chrome OS: What You Need to Know…
The main reason I bought a Chromebook was for the operating system, I was very curious to see what it’s like.
The thing with Chrome OS is everything is done online, there are very few offline apps or programs that you can use.
So there’s not really much point in having a super powerful processor if you don’t have any programs to utilize it.
The Chrome operating system is like a really stripped down version of Windows.
It only contains the essential features like a File Manager and that’s it. Everything else is done through the Chrome Web Browser.
Originally I thought you could download apps and install them directly onto your Chromebook but that’s not the case.
APPS are basically extensions for the Chrome browser.
So when you download and install an APP on your Chromebook from the Chrome Store, it adds a shortcut to the website onto your device. Most of the apps are not actually apps but rather links.
For example, there’s an app me and my girlfriend had a lot of fun with called Webcam Toy. When you click on the app icon, it opens a link to the website in the Chrome browser.
You can visit that link from any computer and you can play with the photo effects if you have a webcam.
So they’re not really apps but more like links to websites.
Some of the newer Chromebooks have the ability to download real apps from Google Play Store and use them offline.
One I thought was cool is called Writer, a neat little platform for writing your heart out.
It saves your data locally so you just need to open and it and everything should still be there.
Of course, Google Docs and Drive work offline too.
Google Docs will be the main word editing service that you’ll use on the Chromebook because it’s the best and most convenient.
So there’s not that much you can do with a Chromebook because the only real program you can use is the Chrome Browser.
What I Don’t Like:
Chromebooks are excellent additions to your work equipment but they shouldn’t be your main workstation.
The reason for this is because they’re not powerful and are not compatible with most programs you need.
For example, if you need to do a ton of research you’ll have a bunch of Chrome tabs open which will slow the Chromebook to a crawl.
They’re mainly designed to browse the internet… and nothing more.
On the other hand, the newer models tend to be quite fast and can handle a lot more (but they’re more expensive).
Perfect for Travel:
I recommend Chromebooks as a mobile work solution (which is why I bought mine)
In other words, the idea is to work from home on your PC when you can, and when you want to switch locations, use a Chromebook.
But of course, if you don’t use many Windows programs in the first place, a Chromebook could work as a main workstation.
Just keep in mind the storage space on these devices is really low but you can extend it via a mini- SD card.
I bought a 32 GB SD Card for mine, so the total storage space now is 48 GB (16 originally + 32 from the card).
Connecting a Chromebook to Your Work Station:
If you’re like me, chances are you immediately thought about how to connect your Chromebook to your PC.
There aren’t many solutions to this problem yet though I’m sure some new feature will be added soon. But there’s one that impressed me and thoroughly confused my girlfriend.
It’s called Google Remote Desktop.
With this tool you can add computers or devices to the list and control them from anywhere as long as you’re connected to the internet.
So what I did was install the app on my PC and then on my Chromebook.
Setting it up is super simple just install it and login to Google. You’ll have two options: Share or Connect.
If you click Share it will provide you with a key to gain access to that computer.
You just need to do this once per device so it’s really simple.
I wanted to be able to access my PC from my Chromebook: so I clicked “Share” on my PC, opened the app on my Chromebook, typed in the code from my PC, and that’s it.
It’s just fun okay!
No but if you use programs like Photoshop or other software that you can’t install on your Chromebook, this feature can be a lifesaver.
Or if you need to remotely grab a file from your computer’s hard drive this is one solution.
There’s also an android app so you can connect to your PC from your phone. This is particularly useful for trolling people in your home!
I actually use this feature quite often but not for anything useful.
I basically use it to open YouTube on my PC from my phone when I’m too lazy to get up from my bed or scare my girlfriend.
Oh we just watched The Ring let me open a YouTube clip of TV static while I’m not home.
Babe your computer just started playing static by itself, it’s so weird.
Yeah, that is weird.
What makes this program cool is you can connect to your devices as long as you have an internet connection. It’s not based on the local area network.
For instance, if you’re out with your phone or laptop and you’re connected to 4G you can still use the program to access your PC at home.
So it’s a fun little program to play around with.
To transfer files to your Chromebook you’ll have to upload them to Google Drive first.
It’s a bit annoying but I’m sure there will be some new solution soon. Unfortunately, there’s no way to like extend your monitor to a Chromebook.
There are ways to do it if you have a Windows laptop but there doesn’t seem to be a solution for Chromebooks yet.
I was looking into this for awhile cause it would be cool to put the laptop next to your monitor and use it like another external monitor.
Sucks you can’t do it like that though.
Perfect Travel Companion:
Think of a Chromebook as something in-between a regular tablet and a Windows laptop.
They were mainly designed for people who like the feel of laptops but don’t need all the features Windows includes.
Chromebooks were made for one purpose – browsing the internet on-the-go and they do it quite well.
So if you always wanted to be able to do some work while in an airplane or in a coffee shop in a different country, a Chromebook might be what you need.
I always take mine when I travel. It’s tiny.
Just keep in mind most Windows programs don’t work on Chromebooks.
If you use a lot of Windows programs you probably won’t benefit much from a Chromebook as they’re mainly for browsing the internet.
You can still get a lot done with a Chromebook though.
I used it to write my previous article, Wealthy Affiliate Review at a coffee shop, and it worked wonderfully.
Just remember, the RAM is quite low and the processor is not super-fast either, so if you have a bunch of tabs open, the performance will suffer.
Nevertheless, I’m quite happy with my little Chromebook and I hope I can take it on many more adventures.
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Thanks for taking the time to read this review.
If you have any questions, leave them below and I’ll do my best to answer.
Until next time!