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Kain Young

The 10 Most Compelling Benefits of Chromebooks

By Making the Switch

Everyone has different requirements and expectations from their computers. However, if you are like me and have been searching for an inexpensive secondary computer that is portable enough for travel, yet powerful enough for work, you may want to consider these ten benefits of a Chromebook and decide if it’s right for you.

1) It’s Quick to Boot-up

We live in a modern age of distractions, shortened attention spans, and a profound shortage of time. Thanks to Google’s Coreboot technology you can press the power button and reach your home screen, fully booted, in less than 10 seconds. This is faster than most other tablets which can take as long as 45 seconds to power-on.

Coreboot is a firmware platform. Google and Linux developed it together to deliver lightning-fast, secure boot on Chromebooks. Because it is an Open Source project, it is continually perfected, improved upon and updated.

The system never becomes bloated with useless and resource consuming programs. So, you can rest assured it will continue to boot-up quickly no matter how long you have owned it and no matter how many apps you activate.

Top 2 benefits of a Chromebook - boot and setup speed

2) Ultrafast Setup

Google has made Chromebook as easy to set up as any smartphone. Setting up a new Chromebook is so much easier than setting up your PC, laptop, or other notebooks. For one thing, Chromebooks don’t need any major updates or time-consuming antivirus software.

To get started, you simply sign in with your Google account. Voila! All your browser content, Google Drive content, and other settings are active. Alternatively, you can create a new account, if you don’t have one already.

Chromebook comes loaded with the basic OS software and light firmware to ensure you have the fastest setup and user experience possible. Most users report that it takes less than five minutes from box to operation.

While it is true that Chromebook is web-based, there are many third-party apps and native Google apps that will increase Chromebook’s offline functionality. After setup, you may want to configure your device with a few of these.

3) Portable and Travel-Friendly

All laptops are portable, but Chromebook takes this to a new level. There are several reasons why Chromebooks are better than laptops when it comes to portability, travel, and day-to-day usage.

First, it’s much easier to drop a Chromebook in your backpack, keeping it with you as you travel or commute. A Mac or a Windows Ultrabook can be double or triple the size, weight and most importantly, cost.

The battery life is also an important point. With a Chromebook, you can feel safe knowing that you have over seven hours of battery life on a single charge. I frequently take my Chromebook with me for both day trips and weekenders because it simply lasts longer.

Lastly, you never have to worry about losing sensitive data. In the event my Chromebook is lost or stolen, I know that my valuable data is safe in the cloud. It’s not on the hard disk where it would be vulnerable and difficult to recover.

4) Not Tech Savvy? No Problem

One of the major benefits of a Chromebook is that it’s ideal for less technical users. Because it uses a simple OS, fewer bad things can happen. And if all else fails, the operating system is easily reset back to factory settings.

The fact that Chromebook is maintenance-free means there is one less thing you need to worry about with your busy life. There is no need to schedule updates or install anything, ever.

Since you manage everything from Google’s cloud, you only need to restart your Chromebook every few weeks to get in-sync with the latest updates.

5) It’s More Secure than a Laptop

Sure, there may be browser glitches from time to time, but you don’t have to worry about those annoyances signaling a greater problem. Chromebook is one of the most secure devices available. Because the Chromium OS is automatically updated with the latest security patches, it is almost impenetrable to viruses and many types of malware.

Of course, cybercriminals are persistent and develop their own cutting-edge technology daily. You can rest assured, however, that Chromium is designed with your security in mind. If the system detects changes to the core of the system, it immediately recovers the system.

#6 Benefit of a Chromebook - privacy

6) It Has the Safest Private Browsing

Chromebook offers several features that make browsing more secure and more private. You can browse in “incognito” mode which prevents plugins or website apps from running. It also prevents your browsing history being saved and viewed later.

You can also use “guest mode.” In this case, everything from your browsing session is deleted when you log out. Anything downloaded or changed is wiped out, too, even malicious extensions. That’s perfect for browsing untrusted sites.

7) Many Inexpensive Options

We expect the best technology to come with a hefty price tag. Thanks to Chromebook, you won’t be paying a fortune. Many Chromebooks are priced around $200, making them affordable for most any budget.

Windows and Mac can’t compete on a spec comparison that is based on the ratio of “performance to price.” A lower-end Windows laptop can’t give you the same smooth performance and user experience as Chromebook will and no Mac or Apple product can compete on price.

8) Free Apps from Chrome and Google Play

Another one of the benefits of a Chromebook that I like is that they’re created and optimized for Google’s apps, like Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive. Recently, Google has made its Play Store inventory available to Chromebook users.

There is also the Chrome Web Store – a marketplace especially for Chromebook users. With these two app markets, you will be able to find most of your favorite apps for free. If you worry about losing access to Photoshop or MS Office, you will be happy to learn that there are cloud-based platforms available for these programs and many others.

9) It’s Kid Friendly

Chromebook benefit #9 - kid friendlyFor those with children asking, “should I buy a Chromebook?” The answer is yes. It is a great choice. Chromebook, because of its ease of use, portability, cost, and security is excellent for kids. Chromebooks offer parental controls for safe and secure usage, and many models are available that withstand harsh usage and being dropped.

10) Comes with Cloud Storage

If you’re still wondering “why buy a Chromebook?” we also love the cloud environment. Chromebooks are cloud-based machines – they primarily use cloud servers to do their computing and data storage. Google manages these sophisticated computers, configuring them to do specific tasks as well as safely manage and store all your valuable data.

You can store your files in Google Drive, instead of on the computer. That way, your files go with you no matter which computer (or mobile device) you’re using at the moment.

Google Cloud Platform boasts a 99.95 uptime percentage, too. This means that your data, apps, and content is available whenever you need it, wherever you need it. Chromebooks are so seamlessly integrated into the Google ecosystem; you will never know how hard it is working on your behalf. However, you’re not limited only to Google’s offerings. You are free to use the cloud-based service of your choice.

Chromebook for streaming music

Top 9 Internet Music Options for Chromebooks in 2017

By Apps

Enjoying music is easier now than ever before. Yet such ease has also allowed the pursuit of this enjoyment to morph into a convoluted sea of choices. Indeed, there are too many online music players out there vying for your attention. The simple act of finding one has become a painstaking, time-consuming process.

That’s why I’ve put this list together – to help you take a machete to this process so you can crank out tunes on your Chromebook on your terms. We’ve found the best ways for you to do just that.

As a side note, I know there are Chrome OS fans all around the world, so I am showing only internationally available options!

Free Internet Radio

Even though terrestrial radio is still riding high in terms of reach, it’s virtually unlistenable to serious music fans. According to experts, it’s not going to get any better. But don’t fret – free internet radio is here to rescue you from the doldrums. There are plenty of free music options out there that spin handcrafted playlists that go deeper than anything on the FM dial.

1. Free Internet Radio Websites

Cyberspace is replete with several streaming radio stations. On the surface, these stations look like they’re set up similarly to what you may find on terrestrial radio. For instance, sites like AccuRadio and InternetRadio have “channels” that are broken up by genres. But they provide you with a seemingly infinite amount of choice in the process.

For instance, InternetRadio have stations devoted to deeply niched genres such as Kpop and Reggaeton. Plus, these stations are substantially more interactive and user-friendly, something AccuRadio users can experience by being able to skip past as many undesirable songs as they’d like. They don’t exactly skimp on selection, either – InternetRadio is home to about 40,000 different stations for you to peruse.

2. Standard Broadcast Radio Stations over the Internet

Let’s say you’re not ready to give up on terrestrial radio completely. Maybe there’s a morning show you still enjoy, or there’s a special music program they air on Sunday nights that piques your interest. Chances are, that station you like has an online channel that allows you to stream.

There are also sites dedicated to helping you check out the culture of terrestrial radio in other parts of the country should you so desire. While this type of stream-based offering won’t shield you from commercials, there may be fewer ads than what you’d hear on the terrestrial version. This may translate to extra songs in your ear – including deeper cuts that may not normally get spun over the traditional airwaves.

3. SoundCloud

free online musicMusic is a social language at its core. So, it makes perfect sense that there would be music-based app built with this social aspect in mind. The German-based SoundCloud is malleable enough to go where you go, whether you’re toting the app on your smartphone or you’re running it through Chromebooks. More importantly, its interface allows fans to connect with each other like a social media platform; a connection that allows them to share songs from the personal playlists that they built up over time. Better yet, this element can even let fans connect with their favorite musicians.

4. Chrome Extensions

One of the things that makes a Chromebook cool is the bevy of Chrome extensions out there. When it comes to playing music, you are certainly not lacking in app-based options to choose from. Each of these extensions bring something a little different to the table. For instance, the AudioBox app makes it possible to converge your online music outlets like YouTube, Sound Cloud, and Dropbox into one convenient spot.

My Music Cloud, on the other hand, allows storage for 250 of your favorite songs in the cloud, including songs you’ve downloaded from iTunes. And true audiophiles may be interested in Music Plus for Google Play, which allows you to enjoy extra goodies like notifications, playback tool popups, lyrics, and more. These extensions typically require a fee to use them at full capacity, but these costs typically aren’t exorbitant.

Paid Music Subscription Services

For a lot of us, the “music genome project” that is Pandora was the first subscription service that helped us make the transition from Napster’s ill-fated downloads to streams. Nowadays, Pandora’s algorithm-based design has been usurped by a host of subscription streamers that are easy to use on Chromebooks.

The advantage of these paid music services is you get more control over individual songs and artists you want to hear.

5. Amazon Music Unlimited

The online retail behemoth got into the streaming game last year with their Amazon Music Unlimited service. Some people will be undoubtedly miffed at the fact that the cost of this service is separate from their Amazon Prime subscription, although you do get it at a discounted price. However, the fact that it offers tens of millions of songs in an intuitive, easy-to-control format and with a free trial may smooth things a bit.

6. Google Play Music

Google’s polished music streaming service is ready-made to be wherever you are. This may especially be true if you own a Samsung phone, where it will be the default music player on the device going forward. At the same time, it seems ready-made for Chromebook users. Indeed, there are a few Chrome apps and extensions you can enjoy on Chromebook that tie directly into the Google Play service (such as the Music Plus app). These widgets excel at taking your music experience to the proverbial next level.

7. Spotify

Arguably the most popular of all the streaming services, Spotify’s intuitive interface makes it easy to find your favorite artists and listen to full albums or select songs. You can also build your own custom playlist to match your mood pretty easily. This device can funnel through Chromebooks rather easily through a Chrome extension, but it’s not necessary. I’ve never had to use it to get my stations to play on my Chromebook.

Self-Stored Music Options

We all remember the way Napster was before its current incarnation. We also remember the thrill of downloading songs from the service and having them be a click away on our PC. While that iteration of Napster has gone by the wayside, the download-based spirit of the service is still with us. Better yet, it’s legal. Take that, Lars Ulrich.

8. Google Play Music

This versatile service not only lets you stream, but it also lets you store. This versatility is further bolstered by its easy-to-use presence on smartphones and Chromebooks. For those that like to bounce back between the old-school and new-school methods of digital music enjoyment, this app is right up your alley.

9. Enjoy Music Player

This handy service will do more than just play back stored music. It will also allow you to grab music from SoundCloud. Once you have the tunes on the Chromebook extension, you can do a few neat tricks with the tunes you can’t do on some other services, like fast forward within a track.

I hope you enjoyed this breakdown of the various ways you can enjoy online music through Chromebooks. The way we consume music has changed radically in the last decade, and the shift is only going to continue.

Please share if you liked the article, or drop me a line to keep the conversation going. Let me know in the comments if you have an even better favorite music service for your Chrome OS devices.

Best printer for Chromebook

How to Pick a Printer That’s Google Cloud Ready

By Accessories, Reviews

Updated September 2017

Google Cloud Printers make use of new technology that connects your printers to the web. It allows you to make your printer available to you and to any other person you’d want to give access to your printer. The only prerequisite is that you have a ‘cloud ready’ printer. It doesn’t just work on any old printer you see.

If you have the right printer, it works like a charm though. You can connect one to your Google Cloud Print account in seconds, and immediately start printing to it.

Lots of new printers come with the cloud print option, and not just the expensive ones. Very reasonably priced printers come cloud print ready nowadays, so lets check out a few.

I’m a fan of the Canon Pixma series. Mine is still running fine after 10 years. I also like the Canon MG series because they come in sleek designs and often with good case color options.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, 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.

Top 4 Chromebook-Compatible Printers

Based on ChromebookHQ readers’ preferences, I’ve put together a list of the four best printers for Chromebooks.

1. Canon MG7720 Wireless All-In-One Printer

This is hands-down my readers’ favorite printer. It’s an all-in-one that scans, copies and prints. It has auto-duplex (unattended 2-sided printing) and can print 4×6 borderless photos. Compared to Canon’s lower-end models, the MG7720 can print directly from NFC-enabled devices.

2. Samsung SL-M2020W/XAA Wireless Monochrome Printer

This Samsung is a no-frills black-and-white laser printer. It prints much faster than inkjet, and the toner cartridge last much longer than inkjet inks.

3. Brother HL-L2380DW Wireless Monochrome Laser Printer

The Brother HL-L2380DW is an all-in-one, black-and-white printer/scanner combo that is super fast. It prints up to 27 pages per minute, compared to 21 for the Samsung.

It’s made in a compact form factor specifically for your home office.

4. HP Envy 4520 Wireless All-in-One Photo Printer

This HP color printer/scanner combo is a low-cost option that still has a good amount of features. It prints just as fast as the Canon MG7720, it can auto-duplex, and it can do borderless photos.

This is your best choice if you want a good, basic printer/scanner that can print photos.

Of course, all of these printers have Cloud Print capability.


best chromebooks for travel

Don’t Leave Home Without the Best Chromebook for Travel in 2017

By Reviews

With so much to squeeze into your suitcase and weight restrictions on your baggage, a Chromebook may be a good choice for staying productive and connected while traveling.

The best Chromebook for traveling should be lightweight, powerful, and have top notch security. After a thorough investigation of Chromebook options, we’ve narrowed our list to the top five best Chromebooks for travel.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one of these affiliate links and purchase an item, I may receive a commission. That allows me to continue to research and provide valuable information about Chromebooks.

How to Choose the Best Chromebook for Travel

Chromebooks have come a long way since their introduction in 2011.  Google has improved the offline mode and expanded the app selection to include Android apps.  Features like low price, data security, and battery life make Chromebooks extremely popular for students. These features also make Chromebooks attractive when you’re on the go. Let’s take a look at how to choose the best Chromebook for travel.

Battery Life

When you’re on the go, finding an outlet is probably the biggest challenge.  Nothing’s more discouraging than a dead battery when you only have a few minutes to send off an email.  The battery life of a Chromebook may be one of its most attractive features.  One of the things I like the most about a Chromebook is that it can stayed charged for over 12 hours.

Memory

You’re no doubt familiar with the term RAM and know that when it comes to processing, more is usually better.  But Chromebooks and traditional notebooks don’t manage RAM the same way, and this means Chromebooks can do more with less.  Chromebooks come with a choice of 2GB or 4GB of RAM.  It’s possible to get more, but these two options should be more than enough if you’re an average user.

If you just need quick access to the internet and only keep a few tabs open, 2 gigs of RAM should be plenty.  If you want to watch HD travel shows on YouTube, have multiple tabs open, and play games while waiting at the airport, you’ll probably want 4 gigs of RAM.  I always recommend 4GB of RAM because it’s a small price difference for the extra processing power.

Features

One of the top features of a Chromebook is their lightweight construction.  Since they’re about the size of a magazine, you can easily slip one into a backpack or carry-on.  Look for a rugged design and spill-resistant keyboard so a dropped bag or coffee spill won’t ruin your whole trip.

Some Chromebooks come with a touch screen. If all you do is search the internet with taps and swipes, you’ll feel right at home.  A keyboard could come in handy if you need to update your travel blog or prepare a presentation while in flight.  For less than the cost of an iPad, you’ll have a real keyboard and can use one of these apps to make your Chromebook feel more like an actual desktop.

Security

We’ve all been warned about the hazards of using public wifi, and it’s pretty likely you know the frustration of trying to remove a virus from your system.  With Chromebooks, these problems are a thing of the past.  Chromebooks keep all those .exe files off your machine, and the only thing you’ll download are apps.  This can be a bit frustrating if you want to download a particular program, but you may find the security trade-off well worth it.  If you want to edit an image with Photoshop or create a Word document while using a Chromebook, try one of these solutions.

You may also want to buy a Chromebook with a TPM chip installed.  A Trusted Platform Module microchip is like a bank vault where encryption keys, certificates, and passwords used for logging into online services are stored safely.  If your Chromebook gets lost, you don’t have to worry because sensitive data is stored on a microchip and not on your hard drive.

Price

The budget friendly price of Chromebooks makes them an excellent choice for anyone looking to buy a new notebook.  Before you take off on that trip of a lifetime or attend a major conference, check out the best Chromebooks for travel.  For just shy of $200 you can slip a Chromebook into your carry-on and leave that expensive laptop at home.

Check Out the Top 5 Best Chromebooks for Travel

ASUS C201 11.6 Inch

Weighing in at 2 pounds, the C201 comes with an 11.6” screen and HD resolution.  The 4GB RAM and 16GB hard drive make the C201 ideal for browsing the web or creating a Google doc.  You get WiFi, Bluetooth, two USB 2.0 ports, and one 3.0 port.  Use the micro HDMI to hook up to larger display screens.  The 128GB SD card reader makes data transfer a breeze.  This solid little Chromebook really shines when it comes to battery life with up to 13 hours of performance before a recharge.

Pros

  • You can buy a C201 for under $200.
  • The touchpad picks up taps and pokes while still being smooth and responsive.
  • It’s designed to be durable with rubberized molding around all four corners.
  • A TPM security microchip adds an extra layer of protection against data theft.

Cons

  • The charger port is unique to ASUS and may be difficult to replace.
  • The keyboard is not backlit and it may be hard to type in dim lighting.
  • The screen is not anti-glare so wide-angle viewing may be difficult.

ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 11.6″

A solid entry to the ruggedized Chromebook category, the reinforced, rubber-wrapped edges and non-slip grips add extra protection to the C202.  Weighing in at 2.2 pounds the C202 is built to survive drops from almost 4 feet and physical stress and vibrations.  The battery lasts up to 10 hours, and there are WiFi and Bluetooth to keep you connected. The 1366x768HD display is bright and crisp, but what makes the C202 stand out is the screen that rotates 180 degrees.

Pros

  • The price is budget friendly, and you can find a C202 for just under $200.
  • Key parts like the keyboard, thermal module, and motherboard are easy to replace.
  • The Anti-glare screen is good for working outside or in a brightly lit space.
  • The spill-proof keyboard can withstand up to a quarter-cup of spilled liquid.

Cons

  • Lacks a touchscreen so surfing the web iPad style won’t be possible.
  • Browsing can be sluggish when you’re using multiple tabs.
  • Doesn’t have TPM security so your sensitive data may be vulnerable.

Acer Chromebook R11 Convertible

At 2.8 pounds and about $300, the R11 is available with either 2GB or 4GB of RAM. The R11 uses an Intel processor and, like all Chromebooks, gives you access to the web and everything Chrome offers.  The touch screen is handy, but what really impresses me about the R11 is how convertible it is.  The 360-degree hinge allows it to flip, swivel, and rotate into a computer, tablet, stand, or tent mode. The touch screen supports 10 finger touch which makes it very responsive and accurate.  The battery can last up to 10 hours.

Pros

  • IPS display allows a wide range of view without reduced image quality.
  • The connection options are excellent and included both a USB 2.0 and 3.0 port.
  • A full-size keyboard with comfortable spacing makes typing easy.

Cons

  • The high-gloss finish can be distracting if you’re in bright sunlight.
  • The built in hard drive can’t be replaced.

Acer Chromebook R13 Convertible

The full aluminum frame and the slightly textured finish gives the R13 a solid feel that’s associated in higher priced notebooks.  Weighing in at 3.3 pounds with a 13.3-inch LED-backlit screen, the R13 has a good display with excellent color.  The R13 has a 360-degree convertible hinge like the R11 but adds a USB-C port for charging and data transfer.

Pros

  • The battery can last almost 12 hours.
  • The trackpad is large and reacts quickly when you touch it.
  • 32GB of internal storage so you can download more apps.

Cons

  • The speakers may not be loud enough when you’re watching a movie.
  • The hinge is plastic, which can make it feel flimsy.
  • The R13 can feel bulky if you use it in tablet mode for a long time.

Lenovo Chromebook N22

Another entry in the ruggedized Chromebook category, the N22 has reinforcement on the screen, sides, corners, hinges, and I/O ports.  The keyboard is water-resistant, and the touchpad is sealed against spills.  Typing on the chiclet-style keyboard is comfortable, and the keys are anti-peel.  Weighing in at 2.7 pounds the N22 is less than $250 but still sturdy and dependable.

Pros

  • Bright screen resolution.
  • The N22 will boot-up quickly from a cold start.
  • The touchpad responds well when using two-finger scrolling and three-finger swiping.

Cons

  • The body is made of textured plastic and may feel cheap.
  • The speakers can sound distorted when the volume is high.
  • The camera can be difficult to rotate, and pictures may look grainy.
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With all the options available, these may be the best Chromebooks for travel.  They have the security features that provide excellent protection for surfing public WiFi and are still light and easy to carry.  When it comes to battery life, coverage can last most of the day, and you can choose a rugged design to protect your Chromebook from accidents while on the go.

If you already own a Chromebook and need to upgrade, or are buying one for the first time, this video will show you how to switch from Windows or Mac to Chromebook.  Once you’ve taken one of the best Chromebooks for travel on a trip, you just might find it makes the best traveling companion.

Can I Use an External CD/DVD Drive with Chromebook?

By Accessories, How-To

Given its limited space, many people have been asking me about using an external DVD drive for Chromebook. Can you use an external drive for Chromebook? Do external drives let you play CDs and DVDs?

It’s fun and convenient to have so many features to add to your laptop. However, before you buy a Chromebook DVD drive, make sure you know what you can and can’t do with one.

Note: This article is about Chromebook optical drives, which play CDs and DVDs. If you want to know about external hard drives for file storage, check out this article I already wrote on the topic.

Optical Drives for the Chromebook

If you’re wondering whether you can use an external drive CD/DVD with Chromebook, the short answer is yes, you can. But before you get too excited, know that there are some limitations to what an external drive can do. Let’s start with the things you can do with a Chromebook optical drive.

Shop around for a high-quality CD/DVD drive and give it a try.

What you can do with a Chromebook DVD drive

Chromebooks can read these disk types:

  • CD
  • CD-RW
  • DVD
  • DVD-RW
  • Blu-ray
  • Blu-ray RW

Chrome OS can read files from any of these disks if they are written in data or media format.

You can copy files off optical media to your drive as long as they are actual media files, not CD music or DVD videos. You can also play media files directly from a disk.

What doesn’t work in Chrome OS

There are serious limitations to what an external DVD drive for Chromebook can do, since the system was created to function primarily online.

Write Files

Unfortunately, there is no way to write files to an optical disk for Chromebook. USB devices, including external DVD drives, function as read-only. You can read the information on a disk as long as it’s in an accepted format, but you cannot write information to it.

Play CDs and DVDs

You can’t play music CDs or DVD videos with a Chromebook DVD drive.

Why not?

Chrome OS does not support optical disks to let you play music or movies. The primary reason for this is that Chrome OS doesn’t come with codecs. Codecs are necessary to compress and decompress large files like DVD videos. If you want to play DVDs on your Chromebook, you’ll need to install Linux.

Run Programs

Chromebooks are all about staying simple and keeping storage in the Cloud. Chrome OS downloads all of its programs from the internet. They don’t have the capacity to run additional programs from an external drive.  You can’t run any Windows programs on Chrome OS either.

Rip Music or Movies

Chrome OS doesn’t include any ripping software. There are several DVD ripping tools for Windows Mac OS X and Linux, but none that function with Chrome OS.

If you want to rip music CDs or DVD movies, you have to use another machine that has Windows, Mac OSX or Linux. You can then transfer those media files to your Chromebook.

How to Read CD/DVD Media in Chrome OS

To read CD or DVD media, plug in the external optical drive to your Chromebook via USB. Insert a disk that has regular computer files. Then, access the files in the same way you would access your local files by clicking Launcher > Files.

If you’d prefer to watch a tutorial, here’s an easy, clear guide on reading files using a Chromebook DVD drive:

How to Play Music and Movies on Chrome OS

Even though you can’t play content directly from CDs or DVDs, there is a way to play music and movies on your Chromebook.

Google has confirmed that you can play music files, like mp3s, and converted video files, like mp4s. So to watch movies, you first need to convert your files into a supported type. You can find a full list of supported file types and codecs in this guide.

Once you have the right files, you can use VLC by VideoLAN, a free media player that lets you play media files on Chrome OS.

Take a look at this video for a full walk-through on using VLC to play a DVD:

Conclusion

In summary, a Chromebook optical drive:

  • Can read disks, but with only accepted file types
  • Can play music from accepted file types, like mp3
  • Can play movies from accepted file types, like mp4
  • Cannot burn files to a CD or DVD

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small compensation. This commission does not affect the price you pay.

Are you still looking for an external DVD drive for Chromebook/Chrome OS? Shopping for an optical drive is an easy task, so it won’t take long.

All you need to worry about is making sure the external drive connects with USB. Other than that, make sure the drive you choose is meant for PC and not just Macs. Shop around for a high-quality CD/DVD drive and give it a try.


how to choose a chromebook

What to Look for in a Chromebook

By Making the Switch

The choices can be overwhelming but if you’re looking for affordability coupled with great features look no further than a Chromebook. They come with a minimum of 2GB RAM, and usually 4GB, so they are a powerful replacement or starter computer. They are also easy to set-up so you won’t spend all day on the phone with tech support. Best of all, they won’t break the bank.

What to look for in a Chromebook

Chromebooks should have a good balance of price against features. That might be ultra-portable size, super-long battery life, or a touch screen. Here are the main things to consider.

Price

The cheapest Chromebooks on the market start as not much more than $100; on the upper end, you can spend well over $500. Obviously, each price point comes with its own set of technical parameters; you can get a fully featured, high quality Chromebook for under $300.

Ruggedness and Spill Protection

Just because you can easily replace a Chromebook doesn’t mean you necessarily want to. This is a good thing to consider for messy kids or careless teenagers. Rugged casings, keyboards, and touchpads will cost you a bit more. I recommend the Dell 11” Chromebook, which is the one I use right now.

App Store Compatibility

Google has brought the Android App Store to devices running Chrome OS.  This exponentially increases the number of apps available for each device, making Chromebook devotees even happier.

Weight

Some devices weigh as little as two pounds or less. A heavier laptop may be a concern for younger children, since it’s more likely to get dropped.

Battery Life

It doesn’t matter how portable the device is if you’re constantly hunting an open plug to charge it. Chromebooks generally run off a single Li-ion battery, and have excellent battery life, but there’s still a wide range from 8 hours at the bottom to more than 14 hours for top-shelf devices.

Screen Size

Chromebooks have screen sizes ranging from 11.6 inches to 15.6 inches. The smaller devices are perfect for quick internet access and tossing in a bag. For serious movie watching, a larger screen is going to be more satisfying.

 

Is Chromebook repair worth it?

Chromebook Repair – Is It Worthwhile?

By How-To

Broken technology – is there anything more frustrating? It’s a special sort of hell to have all the computing power of the modern era at your fingertips, yet be unable to use it due to a cracked screen or malfunctioning keyboard. For Chromebook users, it can be a tricky call: when the devices themselves are so inexpensive, how do you decide which problems are suitable for repair? Sometimes a cheap DIY Chromebook repair is in order. Other problems require a professional repair. And sometimes Chromebook problems get the toaster treatment–throw it out and buy a new one.

Chromebook Screen Repairs

Broken screens are by far the most common problem plaguing modern technology. The ultralight components used to make Chromebooks is one of the things that makes them so affordable. While they minimize cost and weight, often these parts are much less durable than their counterparts in a MacBook or laptop would be.

Fortunately, markets create solutions, particularly for products as ubiquitous as Chromebooks have become. A quick Amazon search for Chromebook replacement screens yields a plethora of low-cost kits (affiliate link).

However, note that each screen is device specific. It will be crucial that you search for your particular make and model before attempting to execute a Chromebook repair. Note that you will likely need both a replacement screen and a set of Chromebook repair tools. Again, an Amazon search gives a variety of device-specific options (affiliate link) for repair tools.

Although I haven’t yet had to repair a Chromebook screen, I can vouch for the utility of these pre-packaged kits. I’ve used several on various other pieces of technology around my house, like phones and tablets. As long as I’ve been careful to order only parts that come well-reviewed, I’ve never been let down. And there’s a lot of crossover for the tools. Keep them around, since it’s very likely you will be using your Chromebook repair set again in the future on another gadget.

Although the procedure for each Chromebook is slightly different, this YouTube video provides a quick breakdown for a fairly common Toshiba model. If you have a different model, it’s worth your time to search for “[make and model] Chromebook screen repair.” There are tutorials online under Google’s “video” tab for almost every model of Chromebook on the market.

As far as cost goes, screen repairs are a very economical solution. The screen may cost $14-$30 from a third-party supplier, and the tools may cost $20-$30. Even added together, that’s still far less than the price of a new Chromebook or a professional Chromebook repair job. And when you’re done with this job, you’ll have a new set of tools you can use on many other small devices.

Chromebook Keyboard Repairs

The second most common issue with Chromebook repairs is the keyboard. Just like we discussed with the screen issue, Chromebook keyboards are more cheaply produced than their counterparts in more expensive machines. I once had a machine that worked perfectly, except the ‘R’ key began flying off about six months into the relationship. (Apparently I type very aggressively.)

If your Chromebook has a single-key issue, the good people at Replacement Laptop Keys will sell you an affordably-priced replacement part. Check out their site and make sure you know which part you need to order. If the problem is more widespread, or affects the touchpad, you may be better served to search for “[make / model] Chromebook replacement keyboard.” Again, make sure you get the make and model right. Small variations in the molding can mean the wrong keyboard won’t fit your device. The same holds true for touchpad repairs as well.

Give It a Try

Like screen repairs, keyboard and touchpad repairs are economical for newer devices. The third-party market has done an admirable job keeping replacement parts affordable and available. Likewise, the collective knowledge of the internet means almost any repair (even those not discussed here) can be at least attempted with a little research.

Knowing all that, the rule of thumb I typically recommend for Chromebook repair is this: if the Chromebook is less than 18 months old, I would repair it myself if possible. Beyond 18 months, the rapid advance of technology probably means you’re just as well-served by simply replacing the device. With an average cost around $300, an 18-month lifespan works out to $16.67 monthly, which seems reasonable to me.

Before you trash a Chromebook or spend money on professional repair, take a stab at fixing it yourself. Not only will you save money, but you’ll begin developing the confidence to work on your own devices. Just this month I’ve repaired a washer and a dryer, using the power of Google and Amazon. You can try it, too.

Sometimes the repair is beyond what you want to attempt, because you could make it worse.Warranty repairs are sometimes possible, but that means shipping your computer to the manufacturer and waiting several weeks to get it back.

Affiliate disclosure: If you use the coupon below, you get $20 off the service, and I might receive a small commission from HelloTech as a thanks for connecting you. Good deal, right?

If you don’t want to wait, call in a local professional. HelloTech is a highly-rated service, and they can help you on the phone or in person. They have a deal just for you – click the image below to get help with a nice discount:

HelloTech offer

If you have a question or story about Chromebook repair, be sure to drop it in the comments below. And happy fixing!

How to record video on a chromebook

How to Record Video on a Chromebook

By How-To

Do you want to record and edit video on your Chromebook? If your work or hobby requires occasional use of video, you may need some help in learning how to create and edit videos on Chromebook, since these machines work a little differently than more traditional laptops, MacBooks, or iPads. The task itself isn’t complicated, and anyone can learn with just a little time and effort.

This tutorial is a two-in-one. First, I’ll show you how to use Animoto to edit video on Chromebook. Then, you’ll see how to make a screencast you can share.

What you will need to follow this tutorial

  • A video source: your Chromebook probably comes with a webcam that will be sufficient if you’re recording simple screencasts or tutorials; for more complicated tasks, you may need to use your smartphone.
  • Video editing software for Chromebook. We’ll be discussing one of these below: Animoto.

Note: in this tutorial, I’m only using free tools to record and edit video on Chrome OS.

How to Record Video on a Chromebook, Step by Step

Think about what kind of video you need to create:

  • If you’re creating a screencast, Screencastify is the quickest, most intuitive solution. It allows users to take a shot of their entire screen or just an individual browser tab. It also includes a video box that records you talking. This is ideal for teachers or anyone recording tutorials. We’ll be talking more about it below.
  • If you’re stitching together pictures or video into a project to be displayed (like for a class or business presentation), Animoto is an extremely intuitive, user-friendly option. The school I used to work at used it to create almost all their videos for parent night, graduation, and more. Not only that, they recommended it to students for class projects, so I know it’s simple enough that even first-graders can use it effectively.

PRO TIP: The Most Important Thing to Know About Shooting Video

If you’re filming with an actual camera, you can skip this paragraph. But most people these days take their video using a phone or tablet. If that’s you, remember: horizontal video is right and vertical video is a terrible, terrible mistake. Professionals shoot in landscape mode. To make your video look professional, you need to do that as well.

Animoto Procedure for Editing Video

  1. Log in to Animoto or create an account.
  2. Click the “Create” button in the top right corner.
  3. Select your style. Each style comes with pre-loaded music, effects, and transitions, but you can always change it later if you decide you don’t like it.
  4. Click “Add pics & vids” in the left sidebar. You can add video clips and still images in a variety of file formats.
  5. Upload the video or image file(s) to Animoto’s server. (Note here that Animoto will allow you to upload video directly from Facebook, Instagram, and Dropbox–so if you plan to use Animoto, keep that in mind when you’re saving your raw footage.)
  6. You can add text, logos, transitions, and more once your video clips are all uploaded.
  7. You can also add music with the “Change Song” button at the top of your workspace.
  8. When you’ve ordered your clips and have all the tweaks you want in place, you can preview your video with the blue “Preview Video” button in the lower left corner. This will give you access to a low-res preview.
  9. If the preview looks good, click on “Produce” in the top menu bar. From there, you can title your video, add a date and description, and select the video quality you’d like for the final product. Once you click the “Produce” button, Animoto will finalize your video and give you a link.
  10. If you plan to use your video offline, you’ll need to go into your account and download the final product directly to your machine. To do this, click on “My Videos” under your account, and select the video you want to download. At the bottom of the new screen that loads, underneath the video itself, you’ll see options to email, share via social media, push to YouTube, embed directly on your website, or download to your hard drive.

Here’s a super quick video showing how Animoto works. They also have lots of videos in their YouTube channel.

PRO TIP: if you’re using video at a professional presentation or in a classroom, always download it. There is little in life more embarrassing than building an hour-long presentation around a video that won’t load.

Screencastify Procedure for Recording Your Screen

  1. After adding Screencastify to your machine (go here and click the “Add to Chrome” button), you’ll see an icon in the upper right that looks like a strip of film.
  2. When you click that link for the first time, the app will walk you through the configuration of your microphone and camera.
  3. Once that’s done, the app will send you to a short video that explains the basics of the process. A short list version follows:
  4. Click the Screencastify icon in the upper right corner.
  5. Set up your basic parameters: audio, webcam, and preview window.
  6. Outline a basic script so you know what you’re going to say. This takes some time on the front end, but saves you from having to re-start and start over if you get lost trying to make it up on the fly.
  7. Start recording your screen / face / voice. The lower left will have a few tools you can use during your recording, including:
    • Focus mouse or pointer mouse. Focus mouse creates a highlight around the pointer on-screen, making it easy for viewers to track its movement. Pointer mouse creates a temporary “ring” around the mouse only when you click, enabling viewers to pay attention only to where you’re clicking (rather than the pointer’s movements on-screen).
    • Pen to draw on screen, with a variety of pointer options.
    • Option to turn the embedded webcam on / off in the film. For instance, if you want the audience to see you talking at a certain point of your video, you can turn the webcam on and a window containing your face will show up. When you turn this option off, that window goes away.
    • Pause the recording momentarily.
  8. When you click the Screencastify icon again to stop the recording, it will immediately take you to a video preview screen. You can click on the video title to rename your video.
  9. There’s also an orange bar containing buttons to go to your library of recordings, download your screencast directly to disk, share it online, crop or trim your video, or trash it and start over.

Here’s a 4-minute video so you can see Screencastify in action.

What do you think?

Did you enjoy the tutorial on how to record video on a Chromebook? I hope so. Those are just two simple ways you can use your Chromebook to record and edit video. There are much more complex apps out there, but Animoto and Screencastify should do the trick for most people’s basic needs. If you have a better option, make sure you mention it in the comments!

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5 Brillinar Chromebook Storage Solutions to Banish the Mess - Chromebook HQ

5 Brilliant Chromebook Storage Solutions to Banish the Mess

By How-To, In the Classroom

With the increasing popularity of Chromebooks in the classroom, Chromebook storage solutions and Chromebook charging carts have become important for schools and small businesses. Managing cables, devices, and power hubs can easily lead to an unsightly tangle of wires. No teacher wants to deal with that.

disorganized cables

Photo credit: Pedro Vera https://www.flickr.com/photos/pvera/

Chromebooks have revolutionized IT for classrooms and small businesses. With their functional ease, portability, and low cost, they’ve become a go-to solution for IT managers. One major driver of Google’s success in education is the Google approach to user interface, which Just Works The First Time. When you’re teaching toddlers (or veteran teachers) to use computers, that simplicity goes a long way toward driving enthusiastic adoption.

5 Chromebook Storage and Charging Solutions

Below you’ll find a collection of options for your chromebook charging solutions and chromebook storage needs. There’s a full range of options, from deluxe to totally DIY.

#1 Store Them in One Place

A permanent office / classroom charging cabinet is certainly an option. These models by Luxor [affiliate link] are permanent solutions designed to be hard-wired and mounted in one location. These popular cabinets by lockncharge have capacities ranging from six chromebooks up to forty.

Each cabinet not only stores your Chromebooks – it charges them as well! This is a perfect option for a small business or school library where individuals are checking Chromebooks out one at a time, and they’re not traveling very far.

Some schools require more portability. They would have to lock down a cabinet and then have to dismount it at the end of the school year. Read on for more mobile options.

#2 Put Them on the Road

A rolling chromebook charging solution is the typical solution for most schools. These are usuallchq-charge-cartsy built a bit sturdier, since they have to endure travel. Essentially, these are metal charging cabinets mounted on large casters, designed to roll the hallways of a school or business delivering chromebooks to various locations.

You can easily find chromebook charging carts with capacities up to thirty chromebooks [affiliate link]. However, these can also be expensive. It’s not at all difficult to find a solid charging cart, if you’re ready to throw $1500 at the problem. Some schools have found difficulty here; it’s pretty easy to sell a school board on the necessity of technology, but talking them into spending four figures on rolling cabinets is a trickier proposition. That leads us to our next option.

#3 Hack it Yourself

Next, let’s look at some DIY chromebook cabinets options. These are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in the educational sector, as teachers–known for their creativity–are beginning to solve their storage and charging problems on their own.

The Tips and Tricks Teacher Blog has a simple tutorial for making your own chromebook charging cabinet from common supplies and a cheap IKEA cabinet.  The model displayed here holds up to sixteen chromebooks, and it costs significantly less than similar commercial models on Amazon. Two of these babies could hold Chromebooks for a large class.

#4 Build Your Own Cart

If you manage multiple classrooms, you could also make a DIY chromebook rolling cart. It does require some basic carpentry skills and at least a small budget for lumber and supplies. This Instructables link provides detailed instructions on how to make your own, step-by-step.

Or, if your school has an old projector cart and a few camera bags lying around, you could do what this brilliant librarian did to clear the clutter in his space. One public school used a similar approach with a slightly larger media cart and a few plastic totes and boxes.

#5 The “Genius Chromebook Storage” Award

Finally, my favorite: dish racks. That’s right: teachers with limited space and budgets have taken to using simple dish racks as a viable chromebooks storage solution. Economical in terms of both cost and space, this is easily the most ingenious method I’ve seen of managing chromebook storage and charging needs. It’s a solution so simple it actually made me giggle when I saw it.

Those are a few Chromebook storage solutions that should help you regardless of your budget or particular situation.

What’s Your Chromebook Storage Solution?

I’m always on the lookout for innovative uses of chromebooks and ingenious ways to get them into the classroom. If you have a link to a similar project, drop the link in the comments. And remember to share this article so everyone can share the goodness!