Tag Archive | "chromeos"

Windows Home, UWP at risk as Microsoft steps out of consumer phone market.

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Does the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and, ultimately, Windows Home have a future now that Microsoft are stopping development work on consumer phones? I think there’s a domino effect about to happen over the next 24 months that will see the consumer laptop market turn away from Windows Home and I don’t see a way that anyone can stop it. UWP is then left spreading awkwardly across gaming (Xbox) and business (PCs.)  UWP is at risk. Continuum too. Standing on the sideline is Chrome OS and the Google Play Store. I think it really is time-up for Windows in the consumer space.

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ASUS C200 Chromebook is a silent, stylish all-dayer. (Video)

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ASUS C200 Chromebook _24_

I’ve previously done work with ChromeOS and Chromebooks but this is the first time I’ve done a top-to-bottom, deep-dive analysis of a Chromebook. The two weeks of testing and analysis has just been published at Notebookcheck.net and the overview video is below.

The ASUS C200 is probably the most productive PC per $ that I’ve ever tested. It offers over 10 hours of battery life in some scenarios and along with that it’s got a good keyboard, it’s light (1.2KG) and it’s completely silent.  But it’s a Chromebook and it has its limitations. It’s also running on a low power Intel Baytrail-M platform so that has limits too.

Luckily the C200 is running a high-end Baytrail-M platform so performance isn’t a major issue for web browsing but when it gets to HTML5 applications there are some issues. Documents in Google Drive took a long time to load as did my large Google Play Music collection and even good old Tweetdeck.  These long loading times aren’t due to poor WiFi performance as the AC-capable module was strong throughout the test.

Good speakers mean you’ve got the potential for a good video experience and this 32GB model had enough space to load up a number of films. With 10 hours of offline video viewing available with one charge you’ll have no problem on a long-haul flight although it must be said that this non-IPS 1366×768 screen has limited viewing angles.

ASUS have done a good job with the C200. It’s not a direct competitor to the Acer C720 which  you would probably choose if you were more into web-based working. If you’re more into a casual web experience, the C200 is the Chromebook to buy.

It’s well-built and incredible value. $229 right now on Amazon. Looking forward to 2015 and a time when Android Runtime and local apps are starting to be ported over it could solve some of the issues  I listed in the full review. Here’s a summary of those Chromebook issues:

Chromebook issues: Skype, local storage, printing, Microsoft Office and other Windows (or OSX) productivity suites, offline applications, USB device support, network attached storage using SMB, NFS and DLNA,video format support, AC3 and DTS audio incompatibility, music player synchronization, Amazon Prime Video outside the USA.

Enjoy the video and the full review and if you have any questions, let me know.

Should We Pay Attention to Chromebooks?

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Should we, in the ultra-mobile computing sector, take any notice of Chromebooks? Of course we should. We should pay attention to Android, to IOS, Sailfish and Windows Phone too. Simple.

Here’s the long answer about why we need to pay attention to Chromebooks but first let me admit that I’ve only recently been inspired to take a closer look after MyDigitalSSD sent me an M.2 SATA drive and a Chromebook to do an upgrade on. I’ve done that upgrade and I’ll be dropping the Super Cache 2 into an Ultrabook to give it a performance test after writing this article. Thanks, MyDigitalSSD, for the opportunity, and the ‘heads-up’ on Chromebooks.

Acer C720 Chromebook Upgrde (10)

In terms of Ultra Mobile Computing, Chromebooks don’t fit-in. They require a constant connection to the Internet just to have access to personal files, for example and yet most don’t have 3G/4G/LTE. The Chrome OS is dull and limited. In terms of local applications and network flexibility there’s zero to get excited about. Ultra Mobile PCs are about having total computing flexibility with you 100% of the time and Chromebooks just don’t fit.

I don’t cover Chromebooks here and yet I watch the segment, just as I watch the IOS and Android space, very carefully. From day 1 actually (here’s the failed blog I started!) I listen to the GigaOm Chrome Show too. All of those OS segments have the potential to fill a particular mobile computing role.

Yeah, Chromebooks are dull. The UI is plain and simple, they don’t look good on the outside and they don’t look good on the inside. Most Chromebooks use cheap processors and cheap plastics to keep the price down. There’s an exception, yes, and that’s a good start.

Here’s something I wrote on Google Plus recently:

No NFC (I’m working in very different ways with my smartphone using tap and send), no always-connected standby (messaging notifications, reminders, low power music streaming), no way to access all my NAS content (a huge problem.) no DLNA (I often push to the living room big screen) and having used touch on Windows 8 for a year I miss that a lot. Having a Google-first experience like this is also somewhat worrying.

Changes are needed and luckily Google and others are putting their toes in the water. Touch and style is now being offered in some models and there’s no technical challenge for manufacturers in making a laptop thin, light, stylish and powerful;  We see that with Ultrabooks all the time.  Many of us use browsers, with touch, on 4,5,7,8, 9 and 10-inch screens too so there’s no reason to think that there’s a problem with the UI either. Chrometabs, anyone?

Chrombook Pixel

Chromebooks are quick to start, efficient, use a free operating system and don’t nag you with updates and patches every day. They have some security advantages. Chromebooks can be used in a two-screen desktop scenario and the ability to just move to another Chromebook (or Chrome browser instance) log-in and get to work is refreshing.  The Acer C720 has the fastest browser and web-apps, per dollar, that I’ve ever experienced. It’s also nice to think about the future of ChromeOS. Android app integration? Better HTML5 apps? Touch user interfaces? Always-On?

Smart hardware, built-in cellular connectivity, great designs, always-on, touch user interface and showcase software would certainly make me consider changing my working methods and that could happen, as long as we are prepared to pay more than $200 for it. Let’s watch this space carefully.