By Chris Guld, Geeks on Tour
A few years ago I wrote an article for RVtravel.com titled, “A Chromebook may be your best travel laptop.” I’m wondering if anyone followed my advice to buy a Chromebook for your next laptop. If so, please leave a comment below and tell us how you like it.
I have now bought my third Chromebook, and they only keep getting better. It’s fast. It boots up in a split second. The battery lasts all day. All I have to do is log in with my Google account and I have all my stuff. My Google Photos, Google Drive files, Gmail, and anything I can access from a web browser is all there.
But, that’s not all. Since my Chromebook can also install Android Play store apps, I can work on files offline. Microsoft Office has an Android app for working with Word, Excel and PowerPoint. If I didn’t need to do serious video editing, I could get by with a Chromebook as my only computer.I love editing my photos on my Chromebook. I use the Android apps for Google Photos and Snapseed. Snapseed is easy and wonderful for editing my photos on my phone – add to that the big screen of the Chromebook and I’m in heaven. I paid $600 for my new ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 and it’s almost as good as my $2,500 Microsoft SurfaceBook – better since it can use Android apps.
What exactly is a Chromebook?
First of all, it is a laptop. Check out the listings from Amazon below – if they didn’t tell you it was a Chromebook, you’d think it was a Windows or a Mac laptop. They have full keyboards, some with backlighting, many of them have touchscreen monitors and can be folded back or detached to use like a tablet. They have USB ports so you can plug in a mouse, an external monitor, or any other USB attachments. I keep mine on the couch and it is my go-to machine for entertainment. Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, or YouTube works so well. If I want to see it on the big-screen TV, I just use Chromecast to cast from laptop to TV.
For RVers with casual computer needs, one Chromebook may be all you need for two people. You can add multiple users to the Chromebook, each with their own login. When you first turn it on, you have a choice of which user gets signed in. If I sign in as me, I’m seeing my email, my photos, my favorites, my apps, and my documents. When my husband signs in on the same machine, he sees his stuff. It’s just a couple of clicks to change from one account to another. And, if you want to give it to one of the grandkids, there is a “Use as Guest” option, so any of your stuff is protected. Chromebooks are the most secure type of device also, so there’s no worry about the grandkids (or you) clicking on something that installs a virus. In the extremely rare case of malware on a Chromebook, you can always do a factory reset as shown in the video below.
The main thing to understand is that they run on the Chrome OS operating system. They cannot run Windows software or Mac software – they’re in their own world called Chrome OS. One program that I use constantly in my video business is Camtasia. It is a Windows software and can’t be run on a Chromebook; therefore I still need a Windows computer, and I relegate the Chromebook to the couch.
One other feature of Chromebooks is called “Powerwash” and it does a factory reset of your device in minutes. Then, as soon as you sign in with your Google account, it sets about restoring all your options and apps. In no time at all, you’re back in business. Check out this video:
If we can ever get off the couch again, I’ll definitely be taking my Chromebook on the road.
Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She and her husband, Jim, produce a free weekly YouTube show called What Does This Button Do? They have been Fulltime RVers, popular seminar presenters at RV Rallies, and regular contributors to RVTravel.com, for many years.