All Posts By

Kain Young

Weekly Roundup 5 – Chromebook Articles You Should Read

By News

Another week full of interesting Chromebook news, rumors, hands on stories and reviews is behind us. Here you get the chance to read up on the ones that stood out. Like some highly anticipated Chromebook models, Chrome and Google Apps improvements, and other articles you might have missed this week.

Google Doubles Down on the Bug Bounty Strategy

venturebeat.com

venturebeatThe biggest, splashiest news lately has been how Google has raised its bug bounty to $10k to anyone who “can compromise a Chromebook or Chromebox with device persistence in guest mode.”  Details on Google’s program can be found here. This VentureBeat article has a good amount of detail about the bounty and its conditions.

 

 

Close-up of the New Pixel

Kevin’s article on Medium.com

mediumThe most exciting news this week for Chromebook fans is the announcement of a new Google Chromebook Pixel with improved performance and battery life. In this article, Kevin C. Tofel gives us a close-up of the changes from the previous model. This update seems to be right in line with what Pixel fans have hoped for.

 

Hangouts Accommodates Larger Groups

Google Apps Update Blog

Google Apps UpdatesA little heralded but very interesting update has happened for Hangouts: the video call participant limit has been raised from 10 to 15. For small and medium size groups who rely on free Hangouts, this could make a difference.

And the news we’ve all been waiting for…

pcworld.com

ctl j5OK maybe it’s just me that’s been excited for this news since we first got wind of it from CES 2016…the CTL J5 rugged Chromebook is available for pre-order. This new model is exciting because it’s durable, like the Dell 11″. But this one also flips around to simulate a tablet. With 4GB of RAM standard and a 10-hour battery life, this one is going to give Dell a run for their money.

 

Roundup

That’s all for this week’s roundup. I hope you’ve enjoyed the list and found it to be useful.

Quick reminder that you too can be part of what goes into this list every week. Simply G+ or tweet the article you’d like to see listed together with the hashtag #chromebookgeek and I’ll add it to the list of possibles. Thanks for your contribution, I really appreciate it!

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Till next time, Kain.

Choosing the Best Chromebook for Developers

By Reviews

Can you use a Chromebook for development tasks?

I see lots of questions on Reddit and Quora asking whether a Chromebook can be used for coding and web development. The answer is YES. Not all Chromebooks are appropriate hardware for your use case though, and this article helps you find the right Chromebook for your programming use case.

Skip to Recommendation (Just tell me which one to get)

It’s easy to understand why there is so much interest in Chromebooks for productivity. Chromebooks are more portable and have better battery life than many other laptops. Chromebooks can be very inexpensive, which makes them attractive for travel.  Google would like you to do everything in the cloud, and the nice thing about that is if you lose your laptop, you don’t lose much work. If you have your browser settings configured to sync, then you could log into a different Chromebook and start working immediately.

Programming-Specific Requirements

To evaluate the which is the right Chromebook for programming, I took into account that web and application developers have a special software toolset, including:

  • syntax-highlighting text editor
  • secure shell and file transfer programs
  • team communication tools like Slack or IRC.

Some of the tools you’re used to may not be available on Chrome OS. In order to use your favorite tools, you may want the flexibility of running Linux either side-by-side with or instead of Chrome OS. You will likely also find that you need to use a cloud-based IDE.

You should choose a Chromebook that has a processor that will make it easy to install Linux, in case you decide to do that immediately or down the road. That’s because if you want to use Crouton on your Chromebook to have OS-switching at a keystroke, you need an Intel/AMD x86/64 processor, or you will not be able to run certain programs. You could also dual-boot your Chromebook with Linux variants like Ubuntu.

Besides the processor requirement, you will also have specific hardware needs. When you want to work on images or in the command line for long periods, you need a:

  • high quality screen
  • comfortable keyboard
  • powerful processor
  • full-sized HDMI video output port.

Crouton- and Linux-Compatible Chromebooks

In this review, I’ve taken all the software and hardware considerations together, and there are come clear winners. Let’s meet the contestants. All of these models have 4GB RAM, as that’s just table stakes for programming on Chromebook. Any of these would be a good Chromebook for Ubuntu or Crouton.

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.

11-Inch Chromebook

C720 popular chromebook for developersThe Acer C720-3404 is quite popular for turning into an inexpensive developer laptop. Its decent battery life upwards of 8 hours and weight under 3 pounds makes it the best portable option. The tradeoff with the lightness is that the build quality is so-so. The 11.6″ anti-glare screen with 1366 x 768 pixels is adequate for travel and coffee shop usage. With a larger (by Chromebook standards) 32GB SSD, you may not need any externally attached storage. The Acer C720’s keyboard is not bad but “a little shallow and spongy” according to PC Advisor. This little laptop can be very inexpensive, but for development purposes, you should really spend the extra $40 to get the Intel Core i3-4005U 1.7 GHz processor, which has an Octane score* of 14600. That’s the version I’m recommending here.

*Octane score is a benchmark that measures JavaScript performance, a measure particularly suited to comparing the relative power of Chromebooks.

13-Inch Chromebooks

Google Pixel is the deluxe option for developersThe Pixel is Google’s premium Chromebook offering. It is know for its top-of-the-line hardware and build quality similar to that of a Macbook Pro. Similar to Apple hardware, you will pay a premium for that quality. The Pixel really delivers, boasting a battery lasting 12 hours in an all-aluminum body weighing 3.3 pounds. The 8GB of RAM and 32GB of storage are overkill for the purposes of Chrome OS. This is the one Chromebook that you could run VMs on, but with only 32GB of local storage, you would need to carry around an external drive. The Pixel does come with 1TB Google Drive cloud storage for 3 years. Because Google is using USB-C for everything, you would need an HDMI adapter to plug this in to an external monitor. Since the screen is a 2560 x 1700-pixel 12.85″ touchscreen, you would likely want to attach it to a monitor at times. The 2.2GHz Core i5-5200U processor results in an Octane score of and incredible 25000.

Toshiba Chromebook 2 - best overall chromebookThe Toshiba Chromebook 2 (model CB35-C3300) is an excellent value at under $300. The 9 hour battery life is great, especially considering the laptop only weighs 3 pounds. The build quality is slightly better than others in its price range, and the keyboard is backlit and “plasticky but satisfying to type on,” according to ComputerWorld. The Toshiba Chromebook 2 comes with the standard 16gB SSD for internal storage. The 13.3″ IPS display has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The Toshiba’s Intel Celeron 3215U 1.7 GHz Processor gives this Chromebook an Octane score of 17600.

Dell Chromebook 13 is an excellent choice for developersA little more expensive but still less expensive than an average laptop, the Dell Chromebook 13 comes with a 12-hour battery life in a sturdy 3.2 pound package. The Dell has a carbon fiber lid with a magnesium alloy keyboard deck and aluminum base. The build quality is different from but equivalent to the Pixel. The internal storage is a 16GB SSD. The IPS screen is 13.3 inches and 1920 x 1080 pixels. The Dell Chromebook 13’s keyboard is backlit and “comfortable typing feel, with pliant if plasticky keys and good travel” according to ComputerShopper. You could get this Chromebook with the Celeron 3205U, but for just $60 more you can get far more power, which is why I’m recommending the Core i3-5005U model with a fantastic Octane score of 20300.

15-Inch Chromebook

Acer Chromebook 15 has the biggest and best screenFor its size and weight (4.8 pounds), the Acer Chromebook 15 actually has a good estimated battery life of 9 hours. The price is certainly right, and I would consider this for use as a main (non-portable) laptop. The Chromebook 15 has “okay build quality, but it flexes and creaks under pressure,” according to one reviewer. The standard internal storage is 16GB SSD, but 32GB is also available. The screen is good – a 15.6″ IPS Screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The Keyboard is “quiet and comfortable to type on,” according to the Verge. The processor in the Acer Chromebook 15 is a Core i3 that produces an Octane score of 20300.

Here is a table to quickly compare the features.

[table “6” not found /]

Out of the running

Some Chromebook models were easily eliminated. The Lenovo 100S, HP Chromebook 11 G4, and Acer Chromebook 11 have unimpressive performance. Both Samsung Chromebook 2 and ASUS C201 were eliminated because they don’t have the right processor type. These models all have their good points, especially in the price department, but they are not suitable as developer laptops. I love my 11-inch Dell, but the screen is not comfortable for long sessions.

Differentiating Features for Programming on Chromebook

All the aforementioned models meet the requirements. Why would you choose one over another, especially when it comes to the three different 13″ options?

Best overall Chromebook value – The Toshiba Chromebook 2 (CB35-C3300) is the best combination of price, portability and power.

Best Portability – considering weight, battery life and durability, The Dell 13 is the best price-to-portability value. Google Pixel performs great in this category, but of course it’s twice the cost of the Dell. If you are only concerned about weight, the Acer C720 is the lightest, and the Toshiba is second lightest.

Best screen – The screen won’t be the most important factor for people using mostly command line applications and web browsing. It might be the most important factor if you don’t have an external monitor to hook up to when you need to do some intensive work. Google’s Pixel is reported to have the best available screen, although at 12.85”, it doesn’t have the most screen real estate. Also, the Pixel’s touchscreen will not be necessary for your work. If both screen size and quality are the most important, then the Acer Chromebook 15 is your best choice.

Most powerful computer (by Octane score, as reported by Zipso) – Google Pixel at a score of 25000 is the best-performing Chromebook. The Dell Chromebook 13 with a score of 20300 is excellent, as well, making it the best price-to-performance value.  The Acer Chromebook 15 ties with the Dell 13 because it uses the same processor. The Toshiba Chromebook 2 CB35-C3300 is close behind with 17600, compared to next models down, the Acer models, both in the 14000 range.

Which is the Best Chromebook for Developers?

That depends on the developer, of course!

If you want a secondary cheap and ultraportable Chromebook, the best choice is the Toshiba Chromebook 2. If you really want an 11″ Chromebook get the Acer C720-3404 – it won’t blow you away, but it gets the job done.

If you want the Chromebook as your main development machine, the most powerful and durable are the Dell Chromebook 13 for the budget price and the Google Chromebook Pixel for the splurge. If you do not have a separate monitor, consider the Acer Chromebook 15.

What’s the most important feature for you when choosing your Chromebook? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

New Chromebooks Announced at CES 2016

By News

CES 2016, the giant consumer electronic show, happened last week in Las Vegas. The show brought exciting announcements of the new Chromebooks for 2016. Samsung, Acer, Lenovo and CTL all had good news for the next batch of Chromebooks. Each manufacturer brought different improvements – battery life, durability and cosmetic.

Introducing the New Models

Samsung Chromebook 3

This 11.6-inch model was the show-stealer due to its 11-hour battery life. That’s compared with 8.5 hours of use on the Chromebook 2. The Chromebook 3 also has a tougher body than before, reportedly reinforced with metal.

Acer Chromebook 11

Acer announced an updated 11.6-inch model. It has “a more durable design that features a premium nano-imprinted cover.” The durability has been tested for a corner drop from 1.9 feet high. It has a quiet, fan-less design and a battery life up to 9 hours. The Chromebook 11 will weigh 2.42 pounds, making it the lightest of the batch by a small margin.

Lenovo ThinkPad 13

Lenovo announced a 13-inch notebook. There will be two variants – one that runs ChromeOS and one that runs Windows. Lenovo is departing from their classic black plastic look with an aluminum finish option on the new ThinkPad 13.

CTL SB4

CTL focused on the education and market with their updated 11.6-inch Chromebook. The price point and good standard configuration (4GB RAM standard) make the SB4 well-suited to the education market.

New Chromebooks Comparison

You can see from the table that each manufacturer has a different focus. For instance, Lenovo is focused on better screen resolution and scaling up RAM. Acer has the lowest cost, while Samsung has focused on battery life.

[table “5” not found /]

While you eagerly await the availability of the new Chromebook models, check out these reviews of two models you can get your hands on right now: HP Chromebook 11 and Acer Chromebook 13.

Transform Your Chromebook Into a Developer Supercomputer With Codenvy

By Apps

This is a guest post by Jesse Williams, an all round stellar guy and the marketing director at Codenvy. I wrote about Codenvy a long time ago in my article Five Best Online IDEs back when Codenvy was still named Cloud IDE. A lot has changed since then, and not just their name. They have grown into a formidable online cloud IDE platform, enabling developers the world over.

I figured it would be a great idea to get to know them a bit better and see what it is they have to offer us Chromebook warriors. So on my request Jesse took to his Chromebook and wrote the below article to do just that, inform us about Codenvy.

If you haven’t picked out your Chromebook yet, check out the in-depth buying guide here: Best Chromebook for Developers.

In case you might wonder if this is a paid infomercial to the better glory of my own personal gain and wallet, wonder no more, it is not. It’s just here to inform us.

So I would say: Thanks, and take it away Jesse…

For developers, Chromebooks offer an appealing mix of portability and affordability in a package that retains the keyboard and large screen that are critical for coding. In fact, many Codenvy developers use Chromebooks extensively. So when the latest Pixel was released we wondered how much Chromebook usage on our SaaS offering had grown over the preceding year – turns out it was 82%, far higher than we’d expected!

Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised though. Over the last year we’ve also seen many new cloud IDEs come to market – enough that at 3 years old, we’re starting to look like the elder statesman of the market! We love cloud development so we’re excited to see the attention and growth in this market.

Within the market, however, our approach has always been a little different: Codenvy is a developer workspace cloud that accelerates continuous delivery by removing the need for developers to configure their environment.

chromebook online ide codenvy opening your project

We have always focused on big, complex projects like the eXo Chat Maven multi-module project. For Chromebook users, Codenvy’s cloud developer workspaces provide the ability to code enterprise level projects without having to transition back to heavy desktops or laptops. Codenvy works with any linux language including Java, JavaScriptNode.JSPHPGo, and Android, just to name a few.

Our project typing mechanism means that developers can: Use as many machines as they need – for complex projects this is a must as a project will often rely on separate middleware, APIs, databases, etc….
Access ready-to-build and run workspaces – for example, an Angular.js project can take advantage of Grunt automatically, while a Java project comes ready to deploy to Tomcat, JBoss or Glassfish (among other application servers). Share a quarantined copy of their project with anyone through a single URL.

We’ve tried to automate most of what a developer needs because we built Codenvy to try and remove the constant configuration and updating demanded by the developer’s local machine. With Codenvy, you simply open the development environment in a browser, import a project from GitHub, BitBucket, or a zip file, and start coding. Your dependencies will automatically be downloaded, your compiler is ready to go, and debug environments are pre-installed. Of course, because we’re based on Docker you can always add in your own totally custom machine recipe through a Dockerfile – even one pulled from DockerHub.

The ability to develop on a Chromebook is only a starting point with Codenvy. Codenvy also adds value to any development team because we offer both a SaaS and on-premises version. The latter is used by many of our enterprise customers so that they can get a fully automated developer workspace cloud behind their firewall and connected to their own systems. Our Codenvy On-Prem offering even allows custom plugins to be built and deployed. Plugins are based on Eclipse Che which is an open source SDK and cloud IDE that is part of the Eclipse Foundation’s Cloud Development project.

You can check out Codenvy in the Chrome web store which boasting over 500 reviews and 4 1/2 stars.

Microphones for googel hangouts with chromebook

Hangout Microphones For Your Chromebook

By Accessories, Reviews

When you get a Chromebook and make that switch to the world of Google you’ll inevitably get sucked into doing Hangouts. Jumping in and out of ‘m like it’s nothing, expanding your network and influence both inside and outside your company. That’s the Chromebook life and I’m experiencing it every single day. It’s wonderful.

I never imagined that the impact of Hangouts would be so profound on building relationships that matter. There’s something about seeing the other person on a screen in front of you that makes for a much tighter personal connection than you would get with a face to face meeting.

The thing with Hangouts to remember is that the better your audio is, the better you’ll get your message across. Just like is the case with podcasts and radio shows.

The Best Sound Quality For The Hangout

Don’t get me wrong, Hangouts are great even with on-board microphones. But when your sound quality is really good Hangouts become more than just that, they become mesmerizing.

It’s very simple. Decades of highly produced TV programs, movies and radio shows have taught us that good sound quality equals authority. Think about it. You don’t listen to a radio show when the sound is bad. Let alone to a crappy sounding podcast using headphones or earplugs directing sound straight into your head.

On the other hand, when you hear a nice and dark voice with some good bass tones you’ll be listening all day. Its even something good telemarketers select and train their reps on. Better sounding, lower voices communicate more trust and get more results. Use that fact to your advantage.

Three Kinds of Hangouts

Hangout Microphone For Your Chromebook

Hangouts are great! All invitees have to do is click the “Join video call” link and they’re in.

Doing Hangouts on an almost daily basis I’ve noticed that there are different kinds of Hangouts you can end up in. Depending on the reason why the Hangout is being held you’ll end up in one of three different settings. Each with its own behavioral rules, social dynamics and varying demands on sound quality.

The Conference Room Hangout
I remember seeing my first conference room. It was quite some time ago when I was working for an energy giant, before Hangouts where a thing. A prestigious looking room with heavy office chairs, a long oval oak table and a large flat screen on the wall. A minibar in the back.

You can imagine the kind of procedural, almost ceremonial type meetings this room produced. People in suits speaking only when spoken to, really only there to listen to the big boss and nod approvingly at the appropriate times. Guess what, there are Hangouts like that, kinda.

Difference being that the official, statesmanlike conference room has been replaced by a fun and inspiring Hangout Room where participants are encouraged to interact and contribute. They’re not different in that they are official, planned ahead of time and you are expected to show up like at any other meeting.

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.

Sound and video quality for the people in the Hangout Room is of course taken care of and most likely excellent. Participants logging in from home or an off side location using their Chromebooks have to take care of their own sound quality. It is appreciated that during these conference Hangouts your sound quality good, or at the very least good enough not to be disturbing. A great Hangout microphone to use here is the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone, also called the podcasters microphone.

This mic is used by many podcasters for good reasons. Its a dynamic microphone which means it is good at getting rid of the background noise and focusus on the sound in front of it, benefiting the capture of your voice. Dynamic mics are directional and cardioid mics reject sound the strongest from the back, but still pick up some sound from the sides. This makes that pretty much the only sound you’ll be transmitting to the Hangout is your voice and not, say, your baby playing in the background.

Listen to me using the ATR2100. The sound you’re hearing is the result of plug-n-play. No settings were changed or tricks done to make the sound better.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/192412188?secret_token=s-KF8k7″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

To get yourself this Audio-Technica Hangout microphone you won’t be spending tons of money. Right now you can pick it up a Amazon for less than sixty bucks.

The Scheduled Meeting Hangout
Much less official than the conference room version, this one is simply you and your directs, maybe your boss one level up and depending on what you do maybe also your client. The ones I attend most are weekly meetings with the client and my management team.

Important, yes for sure. But not ‘the official moment’ I spoke on earlier in this article. These people know you. Most likely you’ve been working closely together with them years already. You’re not, or at least you shouldn’t be, an enigma to them. You have aligned goals and work together. When you’re hatching a plan, they are your culprits. What I’m saying is that substance, trust and mutual involvement are much more important here than showmanship is.

So when it comes to how you sound, you just make sure you’re not a distraction. Using the on-board microphone is fine. Make sure you are in an empty room and you’re good to go.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/192423444?secret_token=s-fpOoD” params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

One thing to be careful with is the risk of audio feedback. I’m sure you’ve heard that somewhere before. Someone is walking up to a stage, at a wedding or school event for example, and starts talking. And as soon as he or she does this high pitch, pulsating sound that gets louder and louder makes everybody cover their ears in pain. That sound is the result of audio feedback. Sound entering the microphone going through whatever system you use, Hangouts in our case, and then exiting the speakers to yet again enter the microphone. It’s a loop.

Laptops and Chromebooks are prone to that because the speakers are closely to and directed towards the microphone. If you suffer from feedback every now and again, stop using your on-board mic.

Hangout Microphones For Your Chromebook

Hangouts is much, much more than a video conferencing tool.

The On-the-fly Hangout

Google Hangouts is much, much more than ‘just’ a video conferencing tool, it is full blown conversation tool. The beautiful thing, I think, is that it runs on every machine you have. Yes, your Chromebook, Windows PC and Laptop, Mac, Linux machine, iPhone, iOS and Android Tablets and your Android phone, they all run the Hangouts app.

It knows which machine you’re on, so when you leave your Chromebook or PC to go somewhere you can continue the conversation on your mobile phone. The app there has the entire conversation on it. The other way around works just as well, you walk into the office, open your computer and continue the conversation you where having coming in. Real easy, really useful.

Hangout conversation ChromebookHQ and Kain Young on Hangout Microphones For Your ChromebookThis ease of conversing is what fuels most on the fly Hangouts. It’s just like calling someone only than in a more polite way.

What you do is you drop a chat message saying something like “QQ: got 5 mins to Hangout? Want to talk about redecorating the office.” The other person then has the chance to say yes or propose another more suiting moment. This makes that both parties are ready to have the conversation, and have some time to prepare if necessary.

These Hangouts don’t have to take place in a separate room unless the subject is not for others to hear. So just as is the case when you’re placing a regular phone call, most of the time you do these Hangouts sitting at your desk or lounging in the public area.

Getting back to the sound quality, there are two things you can do here. You can use a headset (remember, you’re at your desk. Playing the Hangout over your speakers is annoying to your colleagues and somewhat uncomfortable for the other person on it.) and simply use the on-board mic. Or, you could do what I do and go with a pair of earbud headphones made by Skullcandy. They work great. You can clearly hear the other person, and the sound quality on your part is much, much better than that of the on-board microphone, it’s almost on-par with the Audio-Technica microphone(!).

Take a listen to this short mic test. You’ll be surprised at how well it sounds.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/192436511?secret_token=s-DV5o0″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Hangout Microphone Conclusion

The most important thing I learned is to keep in mind the setting of the Hangout you’ll be joining. That pretty much dictates how well you should sound (and look by the way, but that’s a whole other article).

When you’re in an important Hangout, be it with your boss two or more levels up or doing a job interview, you make sure you sound your best. I’ve settled on the Audio-Technica as it is a great Hangout microphone, but it isn’t the only one. You can go for a much more professional, and still not too expensive setup using a small Behringer mixer coupled with the world class Heil PR40 microphone (I sometimes dream of owning a PR40, it’s that good.), but you don’t have to sound really good.

When you’re making use of Hangouts more often you should think of getting a dedicated Hangout mircophone like Earbud Headphones with a mic.They’re cheaper than a professional type microphone, and much easier to carry around with you. There are many different makes and models and none of ‘m will cost you much. These Skullcandy ones cost me less than twenty dollar.

Whatever you do, try to stay away from the on-board mic.

Alright, this is it for now. Thank you for reading this far. I’d love to read in the comments what your experience using Hangouts is, and of course what kind of mic you think is best.

Till next time, Kain.

Weekly Roundup 4 – Chromebook articles you should read

By News

Another week full of interesting Chromebook news, rumors, hands on stories and reviews is behind us. Here you get the chance to read up on the ones that stood out. Like the possibility of a new Chromebook Pixel 2 (yea! if that were true), the proclamation that the Dell Chromebook 11 is the best, the great news for companies using call center software and other articles you might have missed this week.

If you’d like to contribute to the weekly roundup you can. Just G+ or tweet the article you’d like to see listed and the hashtag #chromebookgeek, and you’re good.

Hands on: Dell Chromebook 11 (2015) review

Techradar.com (India)

interactive light on dell chromebook 11A review completely void of any opinion. Facts and factual statements only in this one. Techradar goes over the specs and the little things that make this classroom model Chromebook an interesting choice for those of you involved with the educational system. Especially the interactive light for ‘calling’ a teacher stands out.
more…

The New Dell Chromebook 11 Fixes What Wasn’t Broken

Gizmodo.com

dell chromebook 11 review by gizmodoSame Chromebook Dell 11, but with opinion this time, and a positive one at that. Gizmodo goes as far as saying they “think it is the best—a perfect compromise of product and price.” Although they did also say that from a spec perspective “nothing here is blowing our mind. So in the end they oddly enough recommend waiting if you want a new Chromebook.
more…

Toshiba Chromebook 2 Review: Say Goodbye To Your Laptop

Forbes.com

forbes toshiba chromebook 2 review chromebookhqAn in depth look at the Toshiba Chromebook 2 in this long and detailed article. Writer Jay McGregor goes into most every little detail about this machine. He copncludes that “the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is comfortably the best Chromebook I’ve used yet.” Read to full article to find out why, he has good reasoning to come to that statement.
more…

New Chromebook Pixel Incoming?

n3rdabl3

Speculations are running high with Google I/O just a few weeks away. What will the company show case, or maybe even give away this time? Will it be a Pixel 2? Or maybe a Chrome OS and Android in one device? Rumored is a device codename Samus. The writer of this article jokingly made a Zero Suit Samus reference, who can roll up into a ball. That got me thinking, rolling two into one. Chrome OS and Android becoming one. Could be it…
more…

Dell’s new ruggedized notebooks are ”schoolyard tough”

Techreport

dell schoolyard tough chromebook chromebookhqTechreport writes about Dell coming out with a line of “schoolyard tough” devices with rubberized trim to protect against physical shock and sealed components to resist spilled liquids. Sounds like something I could use as well to be honest.
more…

 

In praise of WebRTC

WhaTech

webrtc on a chromebookMan was I excited when I first heard about WebRTC, a free, open project that provides browsers and mobile applications with Real-Time Communications (RTC). The opportunities WebRTC brings to social interactions between C2C/P2P but also B2C seem endless. Avaya (a leader in call center solutions) started working with Google to build innovative solutions. Something I again was very excited about since that is what I do, I run large call centers. Either way, this article is about WebRTC and since it is so good for Chromebook users I listed it here.
more…

 

Roundup

That’s all for this weeks roundup. I hope you’ve enjoyed the list and found it to be useful.

Quick reminder that you too can be part of what goes into this list every week. Simply G+ or tweet the article you’d like to see listed together with the hashtag #chromebookgeek and I’ll add it to the list of possibles. Thanks for your contribution, I really appreciate it!

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for reading this far. Till next time, Kain.

Acer Chromebook 13 – In for Review

By Reviews

With every PC maker trying to get a piece of the Chromebook action we see lots of new models enter the market place. What all these Chromebooks have in common is that they are inexpensive, have long battery life, run on Google’s Chrome OS, have a small screen and (most) have a very decent performance. With this high level of uniformity there’s not a lot to differentiate one from the other, which makes picking one to buy a difficult endeavor. But, every now and again there’s a model that stands out and makes that choice a bit easier.

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.

Meet the Acer Chromebook 13

Today the Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311 arrived on my doorstep. This is one of those models that stands out. It has a bigger full HD, 1080p, 13.3 inch screen, it runs on the Nvidia Tekra K1 chip which promises much better visuals and it has up to 3 times faster wireless connectivity thanks to the 802.11 AC WiFi standard. All very interesting stuff pushing the Acer Chromebook 13 past the competition, or at least it does so on paper.

To find out if it delivers and really is that great in real life I will be doing an extended review the coming weeks. I’m going to see how it performs far way from the test bench and theoretical comparisons by taking it with me into the real world. So for the coming weeks the Acer Chromebook 13 is going to be my primary computing device, only to be replaced by something else when it cannot get the job done.

Acer Chromebook 13 - In for Review

Acer Chromebook 13 – In for Review

I’m in the fortunate position to be able to test out Chromebooks not only at home but in a demanding work environment as well. I manage several sales teams and a technical support team for a client that is 100% Google (as in ‘Gone Google‘), using nothing but Google apps and Chromebooks. My employer on the other hand is a Microsoft based company. Juggling between these two worlds is fun and sometimes frustrating but it does make for a great place to test out new Chromebook models. I’ll get back to you with my findings in a few weeks from now.

Initial thoughts on the Acer Chromebook 13

The first fun moment was when I went to claim the free Drive storage that comes with it. It turned out I didn’t get the advertised 100GB storage, but a full 1TB. Talk about over delivering! I don’t know why I got that much though, so don’t take it for granted that you will as well.

Looking at the Acer Chromebook 13 it’s hard to deny that it is an inexpensive laptop. In terms of looks it is quite nice, though in terms of build quality it could do better. I won’t say it leaves a lot to be desired because that would be overstating it. I do however think that seams that are wide enough for me to put my finger nail in are a no-no. It’s just not nice looking. When closed the Chromebook 13 has a slick design appearance that makes it look more expensive than it really is. The hinges are flush with the base and feel sturdy and strong. Although the screen easily flexes in every possible way when a little pressure is applied the base is strong and inflexible giving the whole a solid feel.

With the 13.3 inch screen the overall size is slightly larger making room for a bigger keyboard compared to 11 inch models. Which is great as the keys are regularly sized, well spaced and cushioned creating an instant familiarity when typing. The arrows keys work well and are not encased by page -up and -down keys, which is a good thing if you ask me. One thing I’d like to have seen different is the power button on the top right. That should have been a delete key, this is just annoying.Acer Chromebook 13 keyboard

On the port selection side of things I can only be happy. It has two USB 3 ports, one on the left and one at the rear. An SD card slot is placed on the left as well, positioned right under the center line of the base which makes operating it a bit hard. You have to lift up your Chromebook to be able to place or remove your SD card. Good thing is that the card doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb but sits nice and flush with the body. At the rear you’ll also find the HDMI port. The combined audio/mic jack is placed at the right.

A Full HD 1080p screen, that has got to be something on a Chromebook! Turns out that full HD and 1080p on their own don’t make for a blow-your-mind experience. You need more than that alone. First the good things: It is super sharp and after typing and web surfing on it for hours on end I haven’t developed a headache yet, nor do my eyes feel strained. I did however change the display settings. It’s quite bright, but you need to set it at the highest setting for that. Then the not so good things: It lacks popping colors. For some reason colors on this screen look somewhat flat. And that is a real shame if you consider that the screen is one of its unique selling points. Another big problem for me is the goldilocks zone, you have to sit right in front of it to enjoy it. As soon as I lean to the left or right the screen darkens fast and past the 45 degree angle it becomes unreadable. Vertical viewing angles are equally poor. I hope this doesn’t become an issue while testing it out in real life.

The one thing I’m really stoked about is the Nvidia Tekra K1 chip. I did a quick test to see how it performed and it did very well, stellar really. I opened 17 tabs with regular websites, did one hangout and opened and streamed two 1080p YouTube videos all at the same time and guess what.. no lag. No stuttering, nothing. Both videos played as if nothing was going on and the Hangout didn’t show signs of an overly active processor either. I admit, this is in no way scientific, but it impressed me nonetheless.

Roundup

Looking at and playing around with the Chromebook 13 for the first time left a positive impression with me. Yes, the screen colors did underwhelm a bit, but considering that it is an inexpensive device and that the flat colors is the only real point of criticism I have so far I’m still very excited. If I had bought it to be my second or third, or maybe even first computer, I would not be disappointed. It is fast, does really well on graphics like the WebGL Experiments, has a great keyboard, a nice looking design and features a 13.3 inch screen. A great choice Chromebook that isn’t quick to disappoint you.

In the weeks ahead I’ll find out how it performs in real life. A particular point of interest will be the build in microphone and camera. Question there is if an external microphone and camera is needed or if the onboard ones are good enough. Battery life is equally important as is how the touchpad functions.

Anything else you would like me to look at testing this machine? Let me know in the comments below. I’ll definitely do my best to come up with an answer for you.

Thanks for reading this far, till next time,

Kain

Best games for Chromebook

9 Best Games On The Chromebook

By Games

Looking for something new? Check out the incremental games I’m into right now.

In 9 best games for the Chromebook I want to show you some nice games you can play on the Chromebook. Games for your Chromebook are as easy to find and play these days as they are for mobile phones and tablets for years now. All you have to do is surf to the Chrome Web Store, select the games category and start looking for the games you like most. The chrome web store has an enormous selection of games to choose from and with the popularity of Chromebooks going through the roof these days you can expect to find some really good games on there.

And, as is the case with every platform that gains in popularity, usage is rising and so is the competition among game developers to get their games on there. It shows in the games. The ones I list here are all free to play and all of ‘m are great games.

One word of warning though. When you are looking for World of Warcraft or Minecraft in my list I’m gonna have to disappoint you. Those cannot be played on Chrome OS, unfortunately. Also, when I say ‘some really good games’ you need to read that while hearing me say ‘for in the browser’ right there in that same sentence. Because when you’re a gamer or just looking for a serious game, the Chromebook is going to disappoint you, a lot. Do not buy a Chromebook for playing games. Other than that, you’re good to go.

#9 Solitaire

Solitaire game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

Solitaire game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

I’ve never understood the lure of card games. They simply don’t do it for me. But I’m clearly not the norm as this game is one of the more popular ones with 463,462 users at the time of this writing. It’s free solitaire (Klondike, Spider, Double Klondike, Forty Thieves) with minimal graphics, no unnecessary distractions of ads and navigation buttons.

When you like to play cards while on a short break at work or killing time when on an airplane (it works offline as well) this game will do the trick.

Get Solitaire Here

#8 Command & Conquer Tiberium Alliances

C&C game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

C&C game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

Do you remember Command & Conquer? I do. I played that game for days on end. I even hooked up with an equally addicted friend to fight out our own war, mano a mano. We made our own Ethernet crossover cable to linkup our PC’s and we went at it. Again, for way more time than could possibly be considered healthy.

Somehow, even with all the advances made in the creation of computer games I still haven’t found a worthy successor to Command & Conquer. And although this game lacks the modern graphics of Far Cry 4 or even AirMech. It is a lot of fun to play. Every time I click to play this game the music and setup takes me back to these awesome days of fun filled indoor summer vacations.

Play Command & Conquer Here

#7 Canvas Rider

Canvas Rider game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

Canvas Rider game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

This is a strangely addictive game. I saw my six year old son playing this game and having a blast. Not really getting the whole point I decided to give it a try myself. And… now I know why 785,323 people have this wire frame game installed.

Canvas Rider is a game in which the only goal is to not have your bike rider killed while racing over all kinds of daring tracks. No, not 3D wildly amazing and breathtakingly rendered bike riding beauty. Simple 2D wireframe graphics. And fun that they are. I find myself pulling up this game at the strangest of moments. Like I said, a strangely addictive game.

It’s not being updated anymore as they released a new version 3 of the game, but don’t let that hold you back. The game features a mind boggling number of 1.5 million tracks for you to play already. Version 3 by the way is also great, so I’ll list that one as well.

Get Canvas Rider Here
Get Canvas Rider 3 Here

#6 Cut The Rope

Cut The Rope game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

Cut The Rope game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

Feed Om Nom. A candy eating green little creature that can only be happy when you feed him (or her, I really don’t know which) while collecting stars. The candy is suspended from one or many more ropes. The trick is to cut the ropes in the correct order as to collect as many start as possible before having your candy eaten by Om Nom.

The further you advance in the game the more difficult it will get. More obstacles, blowers to direct you candy, bubbles that catch your candy and float away with it, magic heads or portals. Too much to mention, but all fun.

Cut the Rope is an Angry Birds type time slurping game you’re likely to loose some time to. Have fun!

Get Cut The Rope Here

#5 Tank Riders

Tank Riders game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

Tank Riders game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

No brain required, just have fun shooting at tanks, walls and emplacements using your cannon, rockets and mortars. You’ll be driving your little tanky through an increasingly difficult maze of obstacles with the goal to come out alive on the other end. You’ll be attacked by oncoming tanks. Sometimes single tanks, sometimes entire hordes.

As you advance through the different levels the world around your changes. Tank Riders is a great 3D game that combines vibrant, colorful graphics, fast-paced action and exploration into a fun filled game, good for the whole family.

Get Tank Riders Here

#4 Bejeweled

Bejeweled game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

Bejeweled game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

We’re getting to the really popular games now. More than one and a half million people play this game on their Chromebook. In total hundreds of millions of people have played it over the past ten years. Chances are you know this game already. No need to really explain the point here I think.

The idea is simple, match the gems and earn points. If you haven’t played it yet and you don’t know if you should ever start think this, half a billion people can’t be wrong, right?

Get Bejeweled Here

#3 Poppit!

Poppit! game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

Poppit! game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

Poppit! Comparable to Bejeweled in that you group same colored items, balloons this time instead of gems, to earn points. Keep popping until you can clear the entire screen. The only real big difference is the number of people playing it. Poppit! has more than 4.2 million active users.

Get Poppit! Here

#2 Entanglement

Entanglement game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

Entanglement game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

This game I didn’t get right away. The playing field consists of hexagonal tiles. You the player has to find a way to extend your path as much as possible without hitting the walls. You do that by rotating the hexagonal tiles etched with paths in ‘m. Somehow this doesn’t sound very enticing. But it is. Just get started and you’ll see for yourself that finding the longest path possible is actually lots of fun.

You can play this game by yourself with the aim to get the highest score. But, you can also play it together with friends. Playing simultaneously you shouldn’t only not run into the wall, you also have to make sure you don’t cross paths with your friends.

Get Entanglement Here

#1 Angry Birds

AngryBirds game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

AngryBirds game on the Chromebook by ChromebookHQ

Of course, Angry Birds! What other game would there be to take the number 1 spot? This game has been played by almost every person in the world (okay – wild guess and probably of by a billion or three, I know).

You wouldn’t say playing the game, but the survival of the birds is what’s at stake. It’s up to you to make sure the birdies do survive by dishing out revenge on the green pigs. When logging in on this online version you get to play lots of fun iterations on the theme, good to keep you playing for hours and hours on end.

Update May 2016: Angry Birds for Chrome has been discontinued, but with the recent announcement that Android Play Store will be coming to Chrome OS, this should work soon: Angry Birds on Google Play Store.

Roundup

That’s all folks. I hope you’ve enjoyed my list of 9 best games on the Chromebook. It is of course up to personal taste if you agree or not on my choices. I am very interested to know what you think. What games do you play incessantly on your Chromebook?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for reading this far. Till next time, Kain.


New HP Chromebook 11- A Meta Review

By Chromebook, Reviews

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.

For quite a while now ChromebookHQ has been convinced that the Chrome OS revolution will take place. From Google’s announcement of the CR-48, the first Chromebook ever built that got a lot of flack for everything about it, all the way through the Samsung 5 550, the Google Pixel and up to the HP Chromebook 11, I’ve been watching. And guess what, I’m still in love.

If the beautifully designed HP Chromebook 11 has done anything to change my love for Chromebooks then it has deepened the belief that Chrome OS is an OS that fills a need and that Chromebooks are the type of laptop computer that families and students happily spend a little money on. The numbers back me up. I called this post a meta review because I wanted to gather all the experts opinions on this new device and see what the views are of pundit filled tech media land. I’ve used the reviews from CNET, The Verge, Engadget, Forbes, PCWorld, PCPRO and Techradar.

But First, We Take A Look

CNET – full reviewHP Chromebook 11 CNET Chromebookhq

Pros

The HP Chromebook 11 has a sharp design, comfortable keyboard, bright IPS display, and loud speakers; it also works with Chromecast for living-room media sharing.

Cons

Nothing much new under the hood: only 16GB of storage, no SD card slot, and it drops the regular HDMI port that the otherwise similar-priced Samsung Chromebook had. No touch screen. Chromebook still not great as offline-ready device.

The Verge – full reviewOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pros

The device designed to unseat last year’s Samsung Chromebook at the top of the Amazon best-seller list, is the HP Chromebook 11. This 11.6-inch laptop is priced to move.
[And] if it’s “just a web browser,” it’s a beautiful one. The keyboard is solid, too: clicky and comfortable despite the cheap, plasticky feel of each of its keys.

Cheap, Solid keyboard, Chrome OS is impossibly easy to use

[ChromebookHQ comment] The Chromebook has become, and is for a long time now, the number one selling laptop out there. Both the number one and number two spot on the Amazon bestsellers list are taken up by Chromebooks. And you know what? The number two spot is already taken up by the new HP Chromebook 11 and right now you can only pre-order that one!

Cons

Without a touchscreen, or a better display, or better battery life, the Chromebook 11 doesn’t make a great case against tablets like the Nexus 10 or the iPad. And without more power and better performance, it’s really hard to recommend to anyone as their primary laptop.

Stuttery performance, Build materials can feel cheap, Problematic touchpad

Engadget – full reviewHP Chromebook 11 Engadget Chromebookhq

Pros

A well-built laptop with a bright IPS display and a decent keyboard for under 300 bucks is certainly worthy of a place on your comparison-shopping list. You’ll also be treated to several freebies: a free 100GB of storage on Google Drive for two years, a 60-day trial of Google Play Music All Access and 12 free sessions of Gogo in-flight internet.

Cons

Aside from the flaky touchpad, the biggest disadvantages — only 16GB of SSD storage, an operating system largely limited to Google’s own ecosystem — are part of what makes a Chromebook a Chromebook.

Forbes – full reviewHP Chromebook 11 open screen view Chromebookhq

Pros

With an improved screen, a solid feel and a very handy new charging system, this Chromebook has a lot going for it. HP uses a MicroUSB cable to charge, just like all Android phones and most other phones and cables.

Cons

Unfortunately there is no SD card reader and the only way to hook it up to an HDMI TV or monitor is with a special cable.

PCWorld – articleHP Chromebook 11 PCWorld Chromebookhq

Pros

The display has 176-degree viewing angles. The Chromebook’s speakers are “finely tuned,” and placed under the keyboard so the sound projects toward the user. In another nice touch, the new Chromebook charges via micro-USB

Cons

The tech specs are unchanged from last year’s model. There’s also no official word on an availability of an LTE model. We’ll have to see how the new Chromebook 11 performs in the real world, but it’s unlikely to work miracles for under 300 dollars.

[ChromebookHQ comment] Google was quick to say that a LTE model is coming soon. They couldn’t yet say anything on they pricing though.

 

PCPRO – full reviewHP Chromebook 11 PCPRO Chromebookhq

Pros

This 1.04kg laptop feels impressively tight and well-constructed for a bargain-basement price. The 11.6in IPS display is a huge leap forward. The bright, saturated colours and wide viewing angles are a significant step up from previous cheap-and-cheerful Chromebooks.

Cons

The burning question is whether Chrome OS can hold up its side of the bargain, and we’ll be giving it a thorough workout over the next week or so to find out. Keep an eye out for the full PC Pro verdict.

[ChromebookHQ comment] All in all PCPRO had a very positive tone in their review. No negatives were mentioned, as I would agree with of course. The only negative they could see is the above mentioned matter of Chrome OS being good enough, or not. And to that I say ‘fair enough’, conclusion is that if you like Chrome OS as much as I do, you’ll love the HP Chromebook 11.

Techradar – full reviewHP Chromebook 11 Techradar Chromebookhq

Pros

Simply put, this is the best Chromebook to have pitched its pearly-white tent in this price bracket. It looks great. It sports a sharp 11-inch (1366 x 768) display that provides wide viewing angles (176 degrees, to be exact) thanks to the inclusion of an IPS panel, which provides deep blacks and makes colours ‘pop’.

Great screen, Micro-USB charger, Design, Price

Cons

It certainly didn’t blow us away[keyboard and trackpad], and it may be the case that we would have to spend longer with the machine before making our mind up proper.

Average battery life, Keyboard, Chrome OS may be too limiting for some

The Meta Conclusion

It is a remarkable laptop, by all accounts. It is clear that in this joint effort by HP and Google they’ve tried to bring the awe inspiring design and experience of the Chromebook Pixel to an inexpensive device. The screen is the best you’ll find for a 11 inch display and even beats those of laptops four times more expensive. The HP Chromebook 11 scores big on its great keyboard, its USB charger, wonderful screen, 100GB free two year Drive space, cheerful design and of course, its ridiculously low price.

If you are looking for a second computer for at home, if you are a student that needs a cheap, good and safe laptop or you like the ultra fast booting Chrome OS experience than this machine is might just be what you are looking for.

mouse and keyboard for chromebook

Mouse and Keyboard for your Chromebook

By Accessories, Reviews

Updated March 2017

A separate mouse and keyboard for your Chromebook aren’t the most obvious accessories for it. But, if you’re like me and you work at your desk in your home office, it really is. Just prop up your Chromebook on a laptop stand and hook up a mouse and keyboard to it. Works like a charm.

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.

Keyboard and Mouse Combo for Chromebook and Chromebox

Now I won’t be listing a whole slew of keyboards and mice here for you to pick from, you can do that over at Amazon. What I would suggest is that you  pick the the keyboard and mouse shown here below and leave it at that. Why? Because this set is made for your Chromebook and Chromebox – it is THE Chromebox keyboard.

The ASUS Chrome Wireless Keyboard and Mouse (90MS0000-P00010) is the only external keyboard/mouse combo on Amazon (or anywhere as far as I can tell) that has the ChromeOS keyboard layout. It has the Chrome OS-specific keys like a dedicated search key and no Windows key. That means you won’t get confused when you switch between the on-board and external keyboard. This is the keyboard Asus came out with to go with their Chromebox, which makes it the perfect choice.

Chromebook-compatible Mouse Options

If you don’t like your Chromebook trackpad,  you can get an external mouse. Your main options are Bluetooth and USB.

USB Mouse

Pros:

  • The USB type uses a tiny USB receiver, so you don’t have to enable Bluetooth.
  • Inexpensive
  • Takes regular AAA batteries

Cons: It uses up a USB slot. If you’re working at a desk, it’s not a big deal to use a USB hub to connect your other accessories.

Recommendation: The TeckNet Ergonomic 2.4G Wireless Optical Mobile Mouse. It’s very inexpensive, and it’s well-loved.

Bluetooth Mouse

The Bluetooth type of mouse connects directly to ChromeOS, but first make sure your Chromebook has Bluetooth.

Pro:

  • Doesn’t take up a USB slot.
  • No USB receiver to get lost.
  • Takes regular AA batteries.

Con:

  • Bluetooth must be enabled on your Chromebook.
  • More expensive than USB

Recommendation: Logitech M535 Compact Bluetooth Mouse. This model features a compact size ideal for your laptop bag and a long battery life (up to 10 months between battery changes with normal AA batteries).

Up Next: read about the other main accessories you can get for your Chromebook.