After you’ve gone all hipster boasting your Chromebook an’ all, you probably don’t want to get caught using some kind of an old clunker for a mouse, end up looking all pixelated on your Google plus Hangout or come across garbled while on a Google Talk session, now do you? Not to worry, there are great Chromebook accessories out there that will make you shine in all your beauty.
Disclosure: Please note that the links below are affiliate links (all but one I think), and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that I try to find the best fit for the need with products made by great companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
Since one of the most frequently asked questions is “Can I use a … with my Chromebook?” I thought it’d be helpful to create a resource page with the most needed accessories to use in combination with your Chrome device. I’ll add to this as I learn more, so you’ll notice that in the future I will reference this page quite often. I hope you’ll enjoy!
When picking a mouse the obvious choice is to go with Samsung’s own series of mice which work fine with the Chromebook. The one I’d recommend is the AmazonBasics Wireless Mouse with Nano Receiver because of it’s ease in use. All you need to do is plug in the little USB plug that stores away in the bottom of the mouse and you’re good to go. Be ware though! The Chromebook Series 3 has only 1, yes one, USB 2.0 port. So if you decide to get a USB mouse you’ll either be out of USB ports, or you’ll have to get a USB hub to go with it. They’ll go from about seven dollars and up, so not too much money, just something to keep in mind.
Another option is a to go with a Bluetooth mouse. The thing to keep in mind, and check for, is that not every Chromebook has Bluetooth. It is in the 1st generation Acer A700 and the relatively new Asus Chromebox, but not in all the series 5 or the newest Samsung Chromebook for example. So if you’re looking to connect your trusty wireless mouse you can do so, though you’ll need to plug in a Bluetooth dongle to make it work or get the latest Chromebook that does have Bluetooth. It is Bluetooth 4.0™ Compatible.
Time to make you look good. Depending on the type of Chromebook you’re using you’ve either got a nice onboard HD Webcam that works well with GTalk and Google+ with its Hangout feature or you’ve got a somewhat okay VGA webcam at a measly .3-Megapixels. The first one being the Series 5 550, the latter the newest Chromebook. When you’re just into hanging out with your friends or doing a bit of one on one G-Talking, you’re fine, no need to buy anything extra. But, when you’re planning on joining Leo Laporte on TWIG you better get some gear.
Don’t really know what 1080p HD looks like? Check out these scenes! And remember, make sure it displays at 1080 as Youtube defaults it on a crappy setting which is not even close to as awesome as 1080p HD is!
Now remember, being on TWIG or your companies cost-effective, easy-to-use video conferencing solution requires 1080p HD equipment. With Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 you get exactly that. Full HD 1080p video, high quality dual mic for stereo audio and more. It’s even better than it looks because the H.264 video compression is done in the camera itself! You heard that right, we are talking about built-in hardware compression here. Usually a webcam captures the video and sends it in an uncompressed stream to the computer, where the main processor (CPU) performs the video compression.
By having the camera perform the processing, it is possible to have excellent video quality, even on a mildly powerful computer. To me that makes this particular one the webcam to get for your Chromebook. The best thing is that it doesn’t run you broke either, you can get your hands on one for just $68 over at Amazon.
Just a tad less impressive but still a great webcam to get is it’s little brother the Logitech HD Portable 1080p Webcam C615, with autofocus. Yes, it says 1080p, but that is only for video recording, not for video calling as that is limited to 720p HD video in 16:9 widescreen.
Microphones and Headsets for Chromebook
If you’re anything like an average chrome user, you’ll find yourself using Google Talk/Voice and Google Plus Hangouts more and more. If so you will undoubtedly run into the limitations of the on-board microphone on both the old and new Chromebook models. They’re fine for a quick call to a friend, but lack the quality for continuous or professional use. A shortcoming, especially during those important calls when quality of sound is important. Not to worry though. There is an excellent solution for that, or two actually.
The Buddy FlamingoMic 7G Portable is a 17″ unidirectional noise cancelling microphone. It has a specially designed L shaped USB connector, designed especially for the Chromebook, notebook, netbook and tablet PC.
This microphone is ideal for use with all portable devices. Contort this microphone into any desired position to suit your needs. The use of FilteredAudio technology makes this by far Buddy’s highest quality FlamingoMic to date. The unrivaled combination of highly accurate speech recognition results and ease of use makes the Buddy FlamingoMic 7G an ideal product for use both at the office and on-the-go.
If a headset mic is not for you because of pain in the neck or because of –the most common complaint by people– you feel silly wearing it the FlamingoMic is for you. It plugs into the USB port and easily coils up neatly against your computer for portability and easily extends for dictation. Oh yes, and you have both your hands free to use the mouse and keyboard, flip through papers or hold your cup of coffee.
When a headset is more your cup of tea then the next generation headset microphones, the GE Universal All in One Stereo Headset series is the way to go. It has adapters to connect the headset to various different devices. It can connect to mobile phones, tablets and Chromebooks with the 3.5mm connector, computers with separate 3.5mm input and output ports, or VOIP phones with the 2.5mm port.
Very important for you the Chromebook owner is to remember that the Chromebook sports a 3.5mm TRRS connector which is not your everyday connector. The GE Universal Headset is ideal for pairing with devices such as a Google Chromebook simply because it comes with such a TRRS connector, making it one of the must have Chromebook accessories.
Solid State Drive
There are a lot of people who have bought into the whole cloud computing / Chrome OS story and gotten themselves a Chromebook, but who don’t want to store their stuff online only. A perfectly legit stand to subscribe to, I do so myself. It’s not that I’m not afraid of security or privacy issues. If your data is safe from hackers anywhere it’ll be on Google’s servers, and when it comes to privacy you’re again best off with them.
I store locally for two main reasons. #1 You have no control over the entity holding your data. If they decide its time to end your account, for whatever reason, you’ve lost all of your data. Now data doesn’t sound very bad, so think of it as your family photos, contracts, financial statements, your contact list that took your life to build, everything.
Reason #2 is that I need to be able to get to my data all the time. Being online 24/7 does do the trick. But that’s not always possible. When I’m relaxing at the family lodge in France, for example, I don’t have internet. Also the company I work for has had a dozen outages of the wifi network this past year. Some lasted for days. In these kinds of situations I want local storage and being limited to the 16GB of on-board storage that is a bit of a problem.
The cool thing is that the Chromebook recognizes and works with external drives, so if you want to you can carry an external SSD with you. And when you connect using USB 3.0 (make sure you know which port on your Chromebook is the 3.0 port) you get data transfer at blazing speeds. I wrote up an article to help you choose the best external drive for you.
And there you go. These are some of the must have accessories that make your Chromebook come to life and have you rock yours like a pro. There are of course many more things that could go into your Chromebook ecosphere like the right cloud printer or a nice lap desk for comfortable computing on the couch or in your La-Z-boy recliner.
Thank you for visiting ChromebookHQ, I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I’ll make sure to answer you.
Till next time, Kain.