Farewell chromebook

Sad day today. I’ve had to return my beloved HP chromebook.

HP Chromebook 11
HP Chromebook 11 (Photo credit: Stratageme.com)

I got it a couple of weeks ago, and instantly clicked with it. Now, I’m a Google guy through and through – GMail, Google Docs, G+ all form part of my regular daily online life so having a machine which was so closely tied with my Google account was perfect.

I know there are a bunch of nay-sayers when it comes to the chromebook. “Oh, it’s just a toy,” they say. “Why not just buy a cheap laptop? It’s only got a browser. You can’t install stuff!”

I love that I can’t install stuff. My PC at home is ridden with ‘stuff’ that’s been installed. Bloatware that comes with Windows. Stuff my kids have downloaded and installed – the amount of times I’ve had to clear out weird search bars from my browser, or unpick something that’s happened to the machine. Anti-virus scans or ‘important’ Adobe updates which churns to life just as I’m trying to do something.

A cheap laptop you say? Have you tried running Windows on a cheap laptop? It takes ages to boot, then you’re getting system updates which can run to the hundreds of megabytes.

The chromebook boots, from cold, in about 10-15 seconds. Close the lid to go off and do some stuff, come back and boom. It’s ready. Pick it up, do what you need, when you need to do it. Perfect for doing some writing, blogging, surfing. Watching YouTube or NetFlix, catching up on Twitter, FB or G+

I’ve been using a PC for twenty years. I’m not new at this stuff. I spend a lot of time online, and most of it in a browser. I reckon that 90% of what I need to do with a computer, I can do with a chromebook, and the other 10% I do so rarely (upload/edit photos, move some mp3 files from my music archive to my iPod) that I’m more than happy to switch the PC on to do.

I’d tried a few different chromebooks before I settled on the HP. The Samsung was nice, but the screen was mediocre at best and was still running £199 at a year old.

I loved the design of the HP, the sleek white chassis with the blue accents. I liked the fact that it wasn’t riddled with ports and fan holes. I thought the idea of charging via USB was brilliant – no more lugging a power brick around.

Battery life is pretty good too – easily four and half hours of fairly sustained use. My kids both loved it – my eldest has a google account and just logged in and away he went. My youngest hasn’t, but she was able to log in as a guest on there and watch her (seemingly endless) YouTube videos.

So then, why did it go back? There’s been a much-discussed issue with the HP charger which has meant that HP and Google have ‘paused’ sales of the HP chromebook until they come up with a solution. It wasn’t that though – I could (and was) charging the chromebook off my phone charger quite successfully.

Nope, my ‘book just… died. Stopped charging. Tried all sorts – hard reset, different chargers, nothing. The charger worked, but the little light wasn’t coming on to show it was charging up. No amount of poking and prodding could resurrect it.

You get duds from time to time, no matter what it is. The guys at PC World were more than happy to give me a refund – I had been thinking about exchanging it for the newer Acer C720 – it’s got a better battery life (quoted at 8.5 hours), and a faster processor, but it’s just not as pretty as my HP was. The C720 is a dull grey and the lid feels cheap and plasticky. It’s heavier than the HP and has fan vents. The keyboard just isn’t as nice to type on.

So, I think I’ll have to wait for HP to sort themselves out.

I miss my chromebook already. Come on, HP!