Category

Chromebook

samsung laptop

Breaking Down the New Samsung Chromebook Plus (V2) 2-in-1

By | Chromebook, Reviews

Samsung’s Chromebook Plus Convertible has received a second-generation iteration, and it’s looking very promising. The Samsung Chromebook Plus (V2) is a step in the right direction when compared with the first generation: it features a new processor that packs a punch and has two cameras and a built-in pen, among the other novelties.

Under the Hood

The Samsung Chromebook Plus Convertible V2 has moved from the ARM Processor to an Intel CPU and features a 1.5 GHz dual-core Intel Celeron processor. The Intel Celeron 3965Y handles the Chrome OS really well and as it is built on Kaby Lake microarchitecture and has two cores, it handles daily operations without delays.

Supported by the HD 615 graphics card performing at 300 to 800 MHz, 32GB of built-in storage (SSD) and 4GB of RAM, the Chromebook Plus V2 is fast, reliable, and easily handles a multitude of apps. Since this is a Convertible model, it also has a 360-degree hinge that lets it switch from laptop to tablet mode, which is becoming a firm favorite.

Cameras:

It also features two cameras, which is an upgrade from the single camera the V1 model had. The front-facing 1MP webcam is located in the upper bezel, while the stronger, F1.9 13MP camera with autofocus can be found in the upper-left side above the keyboard. When switching to tablet mode, it then becomes a rear-facing camera.

Display

The display is actually a bit of a downgrade compared to the V1 model—it’s 12.2″ and features a 1920×1080 resolution with 16:10 aspect ratio and a brightness of 300 nits. The V1 model had a 2400×1600 resolution with 3:2 aspect ratio and 400 nits brightness. Even though the display shouldn’t have been the one feature that took such a big hit, there’s a silver lining: the new display is wider and this works great for the keyboard layout which has been given an upgrade to a full-size keyboard.

Connectivity

When it comes to connectivity and ports, the V2 comes with plenty. Two USB-C 3.1 ports, a microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm audio jack are located on the left side, while a USB 3.0 (Type A) port, the Pen dock, as well as the power button, volume switch, and indicator light are located on the right side. Both USB-C ports carry 4K video and audio when used with the right adapter.

Additionals

The stylus in the pen dock is identical to the previous model, which is definitely a good thing: it features full-tilt recognition and 4096 pressure sensitivity levels that make all signatures, drawings, sketches, and writing precise, especially on a 12″ display. Plus there are two speakers at 1.5W each.

Full Specs

  • Processor: Intel Celeron 3965Y Kaby Lake
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615
  • Storage: 32GB internal, Solid State Drive
  • Memory: 4GB
  • Weight:93 pounds
  • Dimensions:34 x 8.19 x 0.63–-7.0 inches
  • Ports: 2 x USB-C used for charging and as 4K video output with an optional adapter, 1 x USB3.0, MicroSD card slot, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Display Aspect Ratio: 16:10
  • Display Brightness: 300 nit
  • Camera: Front 1MP and 13MP on the keyboard deck
  • Stereo Speakers: (2 x 1.5W)
  • Built-in-pen with 4096 sensitivity pressure levels
  • Waterproof Keyboard (small spills only), but no backlight

Personal Use

The Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 comes with the latest Chrome OS that also supports usage of Linux apps, the Google Play and Chrome Web Store apps and other content. You will easily stay in sync and work on it as long as you have an internet connection, and the offline capabilities will let you continue work should you be in an area where you can’t connect. The battery life allows you to use the Chromebook for hours on end without the need to charge it. It’s easy to carry around and is protected against the most common accidents like spills, thanks to a spill-resistant keyboard that can handle the smaller day-to-day minor spillages.

Who Should Buy It

It’s a good fit between entry-level and high-end models—a middle ground worth checking out if you want a device that you can work on the whole day while you’re on the go. The price is set at $499 but it’s important to note that high power users will be better off buying models with more RAM and internal storage by spending about $100 to $200 more.

The Verdict

The new Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 has a premium feel to it. It’s lightweight, features a minimalist no-fuss design, and can be used as a regular notebook or a notepad. The battery life is great and enables 8 to 9 hours of continuous moderate usage and the Wi-Fi is a big plus—range and speed are both superior to most other models.

It’s sturdier than the V1 model, although also a bit heavier. The display is a downgrade but makes the V2 faster (especially with the new processor) since there are fewer pixels to handle. Overall, it’s a very good choice for the new upgrade!

 

 

laptop tablet

Looking at Acer’s New Chromebook Spin 15

By | Chromebook, Reviews

Acer has introduced a new addition to their Chromebook lineup: The new Acer 2-in-1 Chromebook Spin 15. It is the first 15-inch 2-in-1 type of Chromebook in the world, making it a desirable choice of many, but let’s see what it’s actually made of and who would want to buy it.

Under the Hood

The Acer Chromebook Spin 15 weighs only 4.63 pounds and comes equipped with a 15.6-inch full HD touchscreen covered in Corning Gorilla glass for added protection which is rarely found in other models or notebooks. The touchscreen supports 10-point multi-touch and works with IPS technology and the special design of this notebook lets it rotate a full 360 degrees, immediately transforming it into a tablet.

You can choose between 4GB to 8GB of RAM memory, which combined with 32GB to 64GB of storage offers plenty of space for all documents and data for medium to heavy users. Acer decided to stick with Intel on this one and the available models feature one of the three following processors: the quad-core Intel Pentium N4200, dual-core Intel Celeron N3450, and the dual-core Intel Celeron N3350.

Connectivity

Connectivity-wise, the Acer Chromebook Spin comes with two USB 3.0 type A ports, two USB 3.1 type C ports, and a microSD card slot. The battery performance should be impressive too, and is able to deliver 14 to 15 hours with continuous use, which puts this Chromebook into the spotlight for many who work remotely or for longer chunks of time.

Additionals

You will also find a decent webcam on the Chromebook, that has 720p HD definition, HDR, and a wider field of view than most others. The sound is solid, with two speakers that face upwards, although when you rotate to use in tablet mode they are facing away from you which can make the quality of sound suffer a litte. Plus, you can enjoy a full-size keyboard.

The Specs (Acer Chromebook Spin 15 CP315 model):

  • Operating System: Chrome OS
  • Processor: Intel Pentium N4200 1.1 GHz Quad Core
  • Memory: 8GB LPDDR4
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Screen: 6″ Full HD (1920×1080), ten-point multitouch
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505
  • Connectivity: 11ac wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.2
  • Audio: 2x speakers
  • Ports: 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 3.1 Type C
  • Battery: 4670 mAh
  • Dimensions (W x D x H):96 mm x 261.96 mm x 19.95 mm or 15.19 in x 10.31 in x 0.78 in

Personal Use

When it comes to performance, the Chromebook Spin 15 doesn’t let you down. There were no delays when launching and opening apps, and when handling multiple apps at the same time. It easily deals with multiple open Chrome browser tabs, and full-screen HD videos run smoothly.

The textured aluminum lid gives it a slick look, but this is unfortunately lacking on the inside which has a bit of a “plasticy” feel to it. Another thing that might be a deal breaker for some is how difficult it is to open it: you need both hands, which can be off putting.

That being said, the touchscreen is super responsive: every swipe and tap register immediately and without a delay. There are wide bezels around the screen and the display is fairly reflective which could be an issue if you’re trying to watch a dark movie in the daylight. It has a soft touch keyboard that is standard sized like many other Chromebooks and the 360° option that turns it into a tablet is great for reading, sketching and drawing.

Who Should Buy It

For those looking for a Chromebook to read, watch movies and do light work, the Spin is ideal, but high power users should consider going for a higher model. Acer’s Chromebook 15 spin aims at those who want a device that will continue working even with prolonged use (or a long movie) and as such, the battery life is truly outstanding. It’s a larger Chromebook, ideal for long-usage and if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve got a good deal.

The Verdict

The Acer Chromebook Spin is available from $449 or £499. It is an affordable option for those who need a device that can handle long working hours on the go. It doubles as a tablet and is great for reading and watching videos in this mode, but the screen glare might make this difficult in certain situations if you’re planning to use it frequently on the move. The overall performance is good, but if you’re a power user, you might want to look at alternatives.

chromebook case

The Best 6 Chromebook Cases

By | Accessories, Chromebook

When Chromebooks were first released, there weren’t many cases to choose from, leaving users with scratched devices. Luckily this changed quickly, and today, there are so many Chromebook case options that it’s hard to choose from them.

But Why Purchase a Case at All?

The snug fit of a specifically tailored case ensures your Chromebook doesn’t bounce around, as it usually does in your backpack or a larger case. This adds a layer of protection when you put your Chromebook into your bag to separate from the rest of your things and avoid scratching or damage. Plus, cases look more professional if you’re using it for work and offer care that will extend their life.

Here are some of the highest-rated Chromebook cases you can find:

ProCase 11″ to 12.5″ Water-Resistant Shoulder Bags

ProCase’s shoulder bags were designed to be lightweight, portable, and slim. You can get them in various sizes to suit your Chromebook, from 11 inches to 15.6 inches. It comes with a removable shoulder strap and the bag has additional front and back compartments that easily fit all your accessories. The exterior is a waterproof canvas, which is also resistant to dirt, debris, and scratching.

amCase 11.6″ to 12″ Neoprene Chromebook Case

The amCase Neoprene Chromebook Case falls somewhere between a case and sleeve, offering the best of both worlds. The comfortable handle makes it easy to carry on its own, and it also fits into your bag easily. All around protection is provided, thanks to a scratch-resistant seamless foam padding wrap with a bubble-wrap–like texture that snuggly wraps around your Chromebook. You’ll also find additional storage in the front where you can put your accessories.

iPearl mCover 11.6″ Hard Shell Chromebook Case

The iPearl mCover Hard Shell Chromebook Case was designed to fit the 11.6-inch HP Chromebook X360 11 G1 EE series (2018) perfectly, and you can choose from a myriad of colors. The hard-shell case is made of high-quality translucent polycarbonate, which makes it shatter-resistant and protects the corners. This is perfect for users who are constantly on the go and have that extra risk. It also has retractable feet at the bottom rear side of the case for a more ergonomic typing experience and better cooling. mCover also offers hard shell cases for other Chromebook models, so make sure to check them out.

Case Logic Arca 11.6″ Chromebook Carrying Case

The Case Logic Arca 11.6-inch Chromebook Carrying Cases are sturdy and protect your Chromebook from even the toughest hits, thanks to a hard EVA exterior and thick inner padding. Its inner straps also allow you to use your Chromebook easily inside the case, which is excellent for those with a lack of space. You don’t have to worry about overheating, as the lower side of the case features a mesh design, enabling breathability. One downside is that there is no additional storage space with this case so will probably only suit users who don’t have many accessories.

Qishare 11.6″ to 12″ Business Chromebook Case

The Qishare 11.6-12-inch Business Chromebook Case is both durable and super stylish. On the inside, high-quality plush wraps around your Chromebook, while the stylish neoprene water-resistant exterior makes it a great complement to any outfit. It comes with an exterior zippered pocket, plus two side pockets and a removable shoulder strap. The handle, when not in use, can be neatly tucked into its own pocket, and the same goes for the strap hooks which converts the case into a sleeve for those who want dual functionality.

Tomtoc 360° Protective Chromebook Case

The Tomtoc 360° Protective Case doubles as a sleeve and armor case for your Chromebook. The patented CornerArmor™ at the bottom ensures your Chromebook survives even the hardest of falls for the heavy user or traveler. It comes in a variety of sizes and fits the 11.6-inch HP, ASUS, Samsung, and Acer Chromebook models and 14-inch Acer and HP Chromebook models. With a very thick inner lining, it offers superior protection. You will find plenty of space for all accessories thanks to two sealed outer pockets that easily fit chargers, power banks, and cables.

Before you purchase a case, think about the primary reason why you are buying one. Do you need it because you travel a lot, or because you’re a bit clumsy and more likely to drop it? Are you looking for superior protection or do you need a case that will allow you to hold all of your accessories too? Once you answer those questions, you’ll be able to find the right one.

 

laptop accessories

The Ultimate Guide to The Perfect Chromebook Accessories

By | Accessories, Chromebook

Chromebooks are perfect for the classroom, but they are starting to seep their way into work, travel and home life as well. Thanks to their growing popularity, it means the accessories available have also increased too, so let’s have a look at some of the essentials, bundled together by who they help best:

Business & Work

3M Privacy Filter for 11.6″ Chromebook 11 – The 3M Privacy Filter is a screen filter that keeps your data safe from prying eyes. The way it works is quite simple—while you are in front of your Chromebook, you can see everything, but anyone who’s at an angle will simply see a dark screen. Perfect for retaining privacy for the remote workers.

Toshiba 2TB Canvio Basics USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive – Memory cards might be the primary way to get more memory for your Chromebook, but having an external hard drive gives you much more storage space than any memory card can at the moment. The Canvio Basics 2TB enables super-fast transfer with up to 5Gbs, thanks to the USB 3.0 port. Moving large files is super easy, as is installing it—it’s essentially plug and play, with no additional software needed.

Thunderbolt 3 USB C Hub/Adapter – Use all of your devices with your Chromebook by using this nifty all-in-one USB-C hub that has all the connector types you will ever need with your Chromebook. It has a USB Type C connector, 4 USB 3.0 ports, 1 SD Card Slot, 1 x 4K HDMI port, an RJ45 1000M Ethernet port, and a power delivery port. If you are using it for your external devices, keep in mind that your Chromebook should be charging to provide enough power for all of them.

2Koi Minimal Bamboo Lap Desk – This no fuss lap desk has a simple design which is what has made it so popular. Made from cross-laminated bamboo, it’s both light and strong, with a chic design that still allows you to keep your Chromebook cool too due to the large slits. It’s suited for Chromebooks up to 15″ and with the lifetime warranty you get on this piece will make it last as long as your Chromebook does.

Travel

Qicai H 4-in-1 USB-C Hub – The Qicai USB-C hub is perfect for anyone who travels, as it’s compact, easily fits in most bags, and provides you with one Type C and three USB 3.0 ports so that you can plug in your phone, keyboard, mouse or an external flash drive. It’s no-fuss plug & play, so you don’t have to worry about any drivers and the aluminum case makes it sturdy and durable for those constantly on the move.

Poweradd Pilot Pro 32000mAh Power Bank – Although Chromebooks are known for their really good battery life, having a backup when traveling is not a bad idea. Poweradd’s Pilot Pro Power Bank has a huge capacity of 32000mAh and coupled with 1 DC output and 2 USB outputs; it’s one of the best power banks you can get. The aluminum body helps with cooling, and you can easily adjust the voltage, plus it comes with all the most common connector types.

EWWE 360° Protective Laptop Sleeve – Having a good case or sleeve will keep it secure wherever you go, and no matter how bumpy the ride might be. EWWE’s water resistant form-fitting laptop sleeve ensures your Chromebook is unharmed, thanks to their super corner protection technology that has fortified ridges for extra protection. It has a 3-layer protection made out of outer herringbone woolen, middle neoprene, and inner fluffy fleece layer, making it superior to most other cases out there. It’s available in several sizes (11-12.5″, 13″, 13-13.3″, 15-15.6″, and 15″) and comes with an additional storage bag that keeps your accessories secure too.

School & College

LapWorks FLEX Lapdesk – This folding desk is perfect for those who like to work on their Chromebook from the bed or couch (and who doesn’t, really?). It’s thin and lightweight and easily fits into most notebook bags and sleeves. It’s 22″ wide and has plenty of area for your mouse or phone on each side. When folded, it’s only 11″x11″ so will also fit into most cases so you can take it from school to home and work anywhere.

Logitech M325c Wireless Mouse – Available in numerous colors and designs, the Logitech M325c is among the best peripherals for a Chromebook. It’s super light, weighing only 3 ounces and fits easily into any backpack. What makes it so great is the battery life—one charge is enough for 12 months (with average use of few hours daily), and while it doesn’t have any side buttons, the scroll wheel can be tilted to either side, which helps you navigate back and forward in your browser which can be essential for those students (or teachers) who don’t get on with a traditional touchpad.

Transcend 64GB MicroSDXC Class 10 Memory Card – Chromebooks have a lot of storage space thanks to Google Drive storage, but when online storage is not available, it’s not a bad idea to have additional storage ready. While external hard drives provide lots of it, they are another thing to carry around, and it can easily be lost or fall off the table, especially in school and college settings. Memory cards are the better option there. Transcend 64GB MicroSDXC is a great buy: it’s shockproof, static proof, temperature-proof, waterproof, and x-ray-proof, plus it comes with lifetime warranty.

No matter what you use your Chromebook for, you’ll always be able to find the right accessories to make your life even easier. These are just a few of our favorites.

kids on chromebook

Making Chromebooks in the Classroom Child-Friendly

By | Chromebook, How-To, In the Classroom

If you’re using Chromebooks in the classroom, you’ll want to ensure that your students are given a safe learning experience. Fortunately, it’s relatively straightforward to make a Chromebook child-friendly and in this article, we’ll show you how it’s done!

Out with Supervised Users, in with Family Link

If you’ve used a Chromebook in the past, you may be familiar with Supervised Users. This was the feature used previously to help adults control the content that could be accessed by younger users. Google phased out this feature in January 2018, and have replaced it with parental controls through the Family Link feature.

Family Link allows parents and guardians to set up a Google account for a child to use on Chromebooks and Android devices and these accounts have in-built restrictions that help to keep young users safe online.

Setting Up Parental Controls Through Family Link

The first step in this process is to set up a Family Link account for each student who will be using a Chromebook. This can be done on a Chromebook, or another laptop, smartphone, or tablet, this is easy to do if you have a regular class, or you can instruct your IT support to help you with a list of users. For mobile devices, there are dedicated apps that will walk you through the process.

Next, open the Chromebook and select ‘Add Person’ from the lock screen. If each student will have their own individual Chromebook, you’ll need to do this just once per machine. If there are communal Chromebooks, you can choose to set up Family Link accounts with generic usernames, rather than one for each individual child. For example, rather than using ‘John Smith,’ you might decide on Student One, Student Two, and so on. This allows you to use the same accounts for more than one year and saves time setting it up for the next batch of students.

For each account, you will need to enter the username and password to sign in to the Chromebook. You’ll then be prompted to sign in to the parental account that has authority over all of the Family Link users which will be the teacher account.

A screen will then pop up, providing you with details of which restrictions are provided by Google. These are currently limited to website blocking, safe search, no incognito mode in Chrome, and no Play Store access. You can also manually check each user’s browsing history. Restrictions do not extend to apps and screen time control, but in a classroom environment children will be supervised so this is not a limitation.

The options offered natively by Google may not be sufficient for the needs of your students, particularly those who are older or more curious. In that case, you can extend control by using a third-party app.

Advanced Controls for Curious Kids

If you are working with older children who have the skills to circumvent basic controls or would prefer to take an extra level of precaution, third-party apps can help you to lock down a Chromebook to make its purpose purely educational.

There are several options available, according to the controls you wish to implement. Omnito is an app that has been created specifically for the classroom. From one screen, teachers are able to view and monitor all open tabs on their students’ Chromebooks. You’ll also have the option to close any tabs that are not conducive to learning, restrict website access, and remotely lock devices. In addition, Omnito offers full integration with Google Classroom. For teachers already using the platform, or looking to introduce it to their classroom, this permits automatic syncing. In theory, this should make starting a lesson more efficient. Go Guardian and Blocksi offer similar features; try a free trial of each app to establish which one works best for you and your students.

Alternatively, you can try apps that are designed primarily for parental control but have features that are transferable to the classroom. Mobicip is an app that provides wide-ranging supervision of each Chromebook. As well as restricting website access, it allows you to enforce time limits on usage, check what has been downloaded, and monitor all devices from one account. If you’re managing multiple Chromebooks in the classroom, this can help to make the practical side of supervision significantly easier.

Now that you have the tools to help protect your students when using Chromebooks, you’re ready to put their educational potential to good use!

child on laptop

The Top Educational Chromebook Apps

By | Chromebook, In the Classroom, Uncategorized

The Best Chromebook Apps to Complement Children’s Learning

Chromebooks have made quite an impression on the market: they are light, portable, and have great battery life. When they were first released, their primary focus was the educational sector—this was where they gained quite a lot of popularity and traction. Their success wasn’t surprising, as they were a very affordable alternative to laptops, and still had enough computational power to handle anything an average student used them for.

With them being one of the more popular choices for teachers and students alike, we thought it was time to look at them in further depth and see how parents can use Chromebooks to complement their children’s learning in school.

Using Chromebook for Education

Game-based learning is not a new approach; it has been around for decades. We all have learned through games and songs in preschools. What is new, however, is integrating this approach with technology—using computers, tablets, even phones—to complement children’s learning.

Although many see these (not-so) new tech marvels in a negative light, they often aren’t aware of their possibilities when it comes to gamification. Chromebooks are ideal for this: they are, by far, easiest to use, thanks to the intuitive Chrome OS. And with great security and parental control, you can rest easy while your child is enjoying the various apps and games that help them learn.

Here are some of the best apps you can choose from:

  1. Quento Quento is a fun math puzzle game that is aimed towards kids aged six and up. The concept is different from others, as it actually gives an answer first. The goal is to find the right question for that answer. There’s a free version of the game, with optional in-app purchases that unlock more puzzles.
  2. DragonBox One of the best picks when it comes to maths-themed learning games. Dragonbox is also one of the very few learning games that actually demonstrated its efficiency very robustly. The learning curve is stunning, and the numbers back it up: among all the children that played Dragonbox games (about 40,000 kids), an amazing 93% of them learned how to solve equations after just 1.5 hours of gameplay! Although the games aren’t free, you can buy in bundles so they learn in a fun and interactive way.
  3. DuoLingo While not specifically an educational game, Duolingo definitely shouldn’t be left out of this list. This language learning app is interactive making learning languages fun and easy for children and adults alike. You can choose from a multitude of languages, including some fantasy ones like Klingon from Star Trek. Kids will love the ease of use and the fact that they can easily learn the language in bite-size chunks.
  4. GrammaropolisThis game revolves around teaching children grammar lessons through fun animations. It engages children through songs, videos, and characters to teach them various parts of speech. Children easily learn about nouns, adjectives, pronouns, verbs and adverbs, prepositions, and more through cartoon-like interactive books and comics, as well as music videos and quizzes.
  5. Scratch and ScratchJrIn this day and age, coding is a skill that’s slowly becoming as widely used as the English language. Designed by a team of MIT programmers, Scratch is a very gamified approach to designing whatever you want via a graphics coding system. ScratchJr is specifically aimed towards children, and the well-designed interface makes it easy to plunge right in and start learning the basic programming concepts. There’s quite a number of elements that can be interacted with, so a little guidance from a parent or teacher will eliminate any confusion. As an app, it’s one of the best introductions to coding that you will find out there. It will introduce your child to basic programming logic like if-then clauses and loops, which can quickly propel your kid towards learning an actual coding language on dedicated online courses.

These are just some of the many ways you can use the Chromebook at home to compliment your child’s curriculum, and spending time doing this together can foster a love of learning long-term. What’s your favorite educational app for the Chromebook?

laptop calculator

Ensuring a Used Chromebook is a Good Investment

By | Chromebook

Chromebooks have gained traction in the world of education, primarily because of their variety of uses to both students and teachers. But, they are now breaking ground for personal use too, with one of their biggest advantages being the Chrome OS and the 6 years of support that you can get. As long as your hardware supports it, you’ll keep getting all the new features, security updates and neat little tweaks will be readily available for your used Chromebook.

Because of this, they make a great second-hand purchase, if you know what to look for. Here are some things you should look for when purchasing a used Chromebook to make sure it’s a good investment.

The Visible Stuff

The most obvious thing you should check for when inspecting a used Chromebook is the smaller visible details. Not just turning it on and making sure the OS boots up, but also checking these elements too:

    • Keys – Make sure all the keys are present and press down, but also check their Sometimes a little mishap like spilling some juice onto the keyboard can wreak havoc on its functionality.
    • Display – While you might easily notice a scratch or crack, you should also look for dead pixels; you will spot them easily on a black background, as they will have different colors: red, green, etc. Also, some of them might not light up at all, so be sure to check on a white background as well.
    • BatteryBatteries are usually the first to go, especially if they are used and charged improperly. Make sure that the Chromebook you’re interested in is also running on battery only and if you can, check how long the battery holds.
    • Power supply – Once you see the battery is still working, also make sure to check the power supply. Ask the seller to plug in the power supply, so you can see whether it’s charging. Although you can easily buy replacement chargers, you are also checking that the port works too which is a much bigger issue.
    • Ports – Check all the ports that the Chromebook you are interested in has, including the SD card slot, USB, audio jack, etc. If you can, plug something into each of them, but as a minimum, check for any signs of damage, wear or debris stuck in them.
    • Casing– Look for dents, cracks, scratches, and so on. Because Chromebooks are made to be portable, they are often roughly handled and might suffer the occasional bump in a backpack. While these can often be superficial, if you notice a lot of scuffs and knocks, you might want to consider the care (or not) that has been taken with the Chromebook as an indicator to how it may be functioning too.

The Not-So-Obvious Stuff

Because Chromebooks have a long lifespan, they are updated frequently and are supported even years after release. Still, there comes a moment when the hardware that is in an older model can’t support some of the new features you may be looking for. This doesn’t spell immediate doom, but eventually, you will have to upgrade to a newer model and you need to know whether it’s worth it or not. Be sure to check the following:

  • The initial release date – This is important because, for instance, Chromebooks released before the end of 2015 don’t support Android apps. so the release date is an excellent indicator for updates.
  • Touchscreen support – Make sure the Chromebook has touchscreen support, especially if it supports Android apps. Even with a full keyboard, some apps handle touch better.
  • The Camera – Check the specs of the camera and whether it still works.
  • Pen input support – Not every model supports Pen input, so make sure yours does if you take notes often or draw and sketch in your free time.


Internal specifications are something that many don’t check thoroughly. Whether this plays a crucial role for you depends entirely on what you need from the device. If you just need something portable that you will just use for browsing, specs won’t play a big role.

Chromebooks can run efficiently on hardware that is often not even as strong as the one in an average phone. But, some things to consider include:

  • RAM – Always go for 4GB at a minimum. Although 2GB might seem okay to you, having more will make things much easier because of the way Chrome OS caches data.
  • Pre-2015 Chromebooks – All Chromebooks released before the last quarter of 2015, be careful about the processor. These models were released with either an ARM or Intel processors, and early ARM processors just don’t pack enough of a punch. Multitasking was a bit of an issue for them back then and you may find it more trouble than it’s worth.
  • Future proofing – Making sure to read about what is coming next and what was announced will give you a good idea on what to look for in a used Chromebook. For instance, Google demonstrated installation of Linux applications on their Pixelbook and announced that this will be coming to Chromebooks with Intel processors. Having such information will help you decide which used Chromebook would be the best option for you.

 

Purchasing a pre-owned Chromebook is a sound idea, particularly because new models are released every year that could be overkill (and overpriced) for what you need. Still, many will sell their current model for the latest one and you can get a great deal, as long as you know what to look for and make sure it’s a good investment.

operating system

Coming to Grips with Google’s Chrome OS

By | Chromebook

Chromebooks are the lightweight, cloud-based alternatives to mainstream laptops. If you’re considering purchasing one, it’s important to know more about the operating system behind the machine, Chrome OS, before you commit.

In this article, we’ll run through the unique features of Chrome OS, its benefits, and potential drawbacks.

What Makes Chrome OS Unique?

Unlike most mainstream operating systems, Chrome OS is entirely web-based. Instead of relying on conventional PC software that is hard-installed, Chrome OS benefits from the flexibility of web-based applications, similar to the experience of using a smartphone. It’s pre-installed on every Chromebook and ready to roll, straight out of the box.

When you open a Chromebook, you’ll have the option to use your own account, which is linked to your new or existing Google account, add friends and family, or allow guests a one-time login. Once you reach the desktop, there are pinned application icons at the bottom left, settings and connection options on the bottom right, and a toggle button that allows you to view all of your downloaded apps. To add more, simply browse the Chrome Web Store or Google Play Store, just the same as you would on an Android device.

The principal user interface in Chrome OS is the Google Chrome web browser, and documents are managed through Google Docs. If you’re already using these platforms, you’ll find a switch straightforward. If not, you’ll pick them up easily, thanks to intuitive controls.

Early Chromebooks had a reputation for being effectively useless without an Internet connection due to the web-based Chrome OS format. Over time, the operating system has been finessed to accommodate offline use and automatically sync once a connection is re-established. This is especially helpful for people who travel for work; sketchy or non-existent Wi-Fi on planes, trains, and automobiles won’t stop you from writing that crucial report. Although, we wouldn’t blame you for using your offline time for a little relaxation!

Chrome OS is basically a fusion of the traditional operating system and a streamlined, smart device experience.

The Best Features:

Super fast!

Due to its lightweight cloud-based structure that relies on central computers to do the bulk of the work, Chrome OS is significantly faster than Windows and MacOS. In fact, a Chromebook will load up in as little as eight seconds! You’ll also notice that web browsing is snappy, with fewer instances of lag than on PC laptops and MacBooks. In addition, the lightweight nature of Chrome OS also promotes the long battery life for which Chromebooks are renowned.

Clean, intuitive, and easy to use

Chrome OS has been designed for a straightforward user experience, straight out of the box. Initial setup is minimal; simply log in using existing Google account credentials. The interface is clean, with no unnecessary embellishment. Controls are placed intuitively and can be customized to each user’s preferences.

Chrome OS also takes care of crucial tasks, such as antivirus protection, system upgrades, and app updates, without any manual intervention from the user.

Seamless interaction with Android devices

If you’re an existing Android user, you’ll find the interaction between your device and a Chromebook straightforward. Simply use the same Google account for all of your devices and they’ll automatically sync. For example, you can start watching a YouTube video on your Chromebook, pause it, then pick up exactly where you were, using the YouTube app on your Android phone.

Great for working on the move

Thanks to the minimal infrastructure required to run Chrome OS, Chromebooks are usually light and portable, making them perfect for people who work whilst on the move. They are ideal for travel, and some models are enabled with 3G, so they’re not reliant on external connectivity to run smoothly.

Chrome OS includes Google’s Office-equivalent productivity apps—Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Calendar—as well as Google Drive for cloud-based document storage. Customizable access also allows several users to collaborate on a document or project. Other productivity apps can also be found in the Chrome Web Store and Google Play Store.

 

Ultimately, one of the key features of the Chrome OS is its ease of use, which is why Chromebooks are growing in popularity.

laptop compare

Chromebooks: Are They Really a Contender?

By | Chromebook, News

How Do Chromebooks Actually Stack Up Against a MAC or Windows

If you think you’re stuck between choosing a Windows or a MAC for your next major computer purchase, think again, because Chromebooks are in town and they are a very solid contender.

Chromebooks run on the Chrome OS, which is a Linux-based system, and although they are only 7 years old, they’ve come leaps and bounds making them very popular with students. In part, this is because they are lightweight and affordable, meaning that, according to Futuresource Consultings’  latest report,  more than 60% in the US education system are actually Chromebooks

With such a high popularity in schools, it begs the question if Chromebooks are worth it, even if you’re not a student? Could they work for you day-to-day or in business? If you’re considering giving a Chromebook a chance, whether, for their specifications or their price tags, it’s important to know what you’ll get. So, let’s find out if they really are worth it and how strong they compare to their direct competitors.

There’s a Wider Range Than You Realize

Much like a MAC or Windows, there are a variety of Chromebooks available to select from and although they are most known as “Chrome-notebooks” aka Chromebooks, they have desktops and a tablet model too.

Chromebook prices currently average between the $250 and $350 range and their power and features depend on the price—the more you pay, the more you get. For instance, a smaller screen, less RAM, and storage often result in much lower prices, so if you just require basic functionality to access your company emails and word processing resources on the go, this is a very good investment.

But, they aren’t limited to the affordability factor and have well-received options throughout the range like:

Google’s Pixelbook is a hybrid convertible model that can be used as both a notebook or a touchscreen tablet because of their ingenious design: the screen attached with a hinge that can rotate 360 degrees available from $999 that is one of their sturdier devices for business use.

The Samsung 3 Chromebook is the affordable favorite that is easy to carry and lightweight which is the stripped down basic model starting at $169.

Acer Chromebook Tab 10 is the latest (and currently only) tablet available in the Chromebook line for those with a penchant for their tablet device currently starting at $329.

Acer

Although Chromebooks owe their popularity to the student population, Google has also started making models specifically aimed at business professionals. Acer has quickly caught on the popularity of Chromebooks and the latest [email protected] event revealed several such models, like the Chromebook Spin available in 13.5- and 15.6-inch versions. It’s a novelty for them as it’s their first convertible 15.6-inch Chromebook. It’s also neatly located at the very middle of their price range at $449.

Internet Connectivity Turns Every Chromebook Into a Powerhouse

When you buy a Chromebook, you get a number of already available apps, like Gmail, Chrome, Google Calendar, YouTube, Google Docs, and Google Drive which is great for the many users who want to keep all of their services in one place. Plus, all you need to do is log in with your Google credentials and you’re ready to go. The sync process doesn’t take long and you will easily pick up where you left off. Another great thing about Chromebooks is the Google Assistant, formerly only available for mobile and smart home devices. Now, it is available in the newest Chromebook models, like the Pixelbook, which also sports a dedicated Google Assistant keyboard button, perfect for busy business owners.

The other great advantage of this is that Chromebooks are “hop-able” meaning that you can log in with your Chromebook details on any Chromebook device and it will have all of your settings and preferences waiting for you, allowing you to hop from one device to the other because everything is cloud-based.

The most prominent critique of these devices is how dependent they are when it comes to Internet connectivity. Most critics take this Internet dependency as their most prominent flaw—if you don’t have an internet connection, you can’t use them to their fullest. This was once an issue but Google quickly realized that they needed to find a solution, and they delivered. The majority of their apps can be run offline and sync the data while you’re offline too.

Because of the nature of Chromebooks using Cloud storage, it’s important that you get a memory card for your Chromebook to avoid running out of space when you’re working offline.

Most Chromebooks Work with Android Apps

You may be attracted to MAC or Windows because of their range of apps that they run, but Chromebooks are no longer behind as they run Chrome OS-based and Android apps available through the Chrome store.

Although it is true that the first models had a limited number of apps that they could run, this is far from true when it comes to the newer models. Google upped their game and is now offering access to the Google Play Store and Google Play apps. For instance, the Acer Chromebook R series, ASUS Chromebook Flip, as well as Samsung Pro 2-in-1 and Google’s Pixelbook are all models that support Android apps. Just make sure that your Chromebook has the minimum requirements to run them smoothly. This can easily be checked though, as each game states how much performance power you will need.

Another thing to take into consideration is that some games might not be adjusted to play on Chromebooks, so their display might only be available in a vertical position, native to the one used on your phone. It’s best to check with the developer of each game whether they have a native Chromebook version or plan to release it and if your sole reason for buying a Chromebook is game-playing, you may want to reconsider.

Chromebooks Have the Best Update and Security Features

Chromebooks are praised far and wide because of their security features, and many cybersecurity experts call others to follow their lead. The Chrome OS utilizes all the security measures offered by Google, so malware issues are not a big concern. Even pop-ups or additional toolbars can’t sneak past them. Chrome OS is cloud-based, as well as Google apps, so you do not have to worry about checking whether you have the latest version—they all update automatically and just prompt you to restart in case of major updates.

In addition to this, the two-factor authentication makes these systems highly secure. Couple this with making sure that the apps that you download come from familiar and trusted publishers, and you have ensured that you’re as safe as possible.

One of their strongest skills, in addition to security, is their battery life. You can easily use your Chromebook all day without the need to plug it in which is perfect for those that are on the move. Most Chromebooks can easily work on battery for more than 9 hours. The Laptop Mag Battery Test revealed that the average battery life of Chromebooks with Wi-Fi web surfing is about 9 hours and 15 minutes, which is superior to most other notebooks out there.

Are Chromebooks a Good Fit for You?

Even though Chromebooks are most popular among students and educators, they have come a long way and have become perfect solutions in other areas as well. Their appeal is growing each day, especially with those who require a smaller device for quick or regular business tasks.

Even with a small budget under $200, you can afford a Chromebook and while the only people who may not benefit from one are gamers, they seem a good fit for everyone else. Easier access to your Google services and Android apps, with the lightweight accessibility, better security and superior battery life that wins every time.

With bigger budgets come better features and functionalities so ultimately there’s a Chromebook for pretty much anyone.

man on couch connecting to VPN on laptop

Using a VPN on a Chromebook

By | Chromebook, How-To

Chromebooks and VPNs: Adding an Extra Layer of Security 

Imagine working remotely and needing access to the private servers of your company. You would never access company data with someone looking over your shoulder, so why enable someone to do the same when you are connecting to a public network?

A VPN (virtual private network) is a network created to ensure a safe and encrypted internet connection. It is often used in settings where your regular connection is just not safe enough, like when you connect to a public Wi-Fi. Public networks are highly insecure, and there’s a myriad of ways you can lose your private information when you connect to one (Wi-Fi spoofing, as one example).

Having a VPN helps immensely and it’s the best way to secure data when you are connecting remotely anywhere. VPNs are growing in popularity, and, since Chromebooks are designed to be lightweight and mobile, the two go nicely hand in hand. It’s important to know how to set up a VPN on your Chromebook for that ultimate security, especially in the digital era.

Benefits of a VPN

First, the benefits to using a VPN on Chromebooks are quite apparent, even apart from hiding your online activity.

Increased Privacy

When you browse, you leave bits of data everywhere on the web. With a VPN, this data can’t be linked to you; it will just be linked to the VPN provider. This means websites and programs can’t gather personal data on you because you aren’t specifically “viewable” to them. This enhanced security is because VPN offers heavy encryption, which makes it impossible to gain access to your data when connecting to hot spots and Wi-Fi networks.

No Content Restrictions

You have probably stumbled upon the odd YouTube clip that is not available in your country. With a VPN, you can easily bypass such restrictions. VPN servers are located all over the world, and you can easily find one in the right country with access to information not available to you otherwise.

No Bandwidth Throttling

Some ISPs tend to throttle your speed when you are connecting to certain websites. For instance, your ISP might have issues dealing with Netflix because they have their own service they want you to have, or because streaming 4K movies and TV shows takes a lot of bandwidth that they wish to keep clear. By making watching Netflix impossible, they could force you to switch. Although there’s much to be said about such practices, and many disagree with them, there’s very little you can do about it. But by setting up a VPN, you can get around this issue and enjoy a smoother streaming and browsing experience.

How to Set Up a VPN on Your Chromebook

Even though many VPN providers offer “download and install” types of service, when using a Chromebook, in most cases you’ll have to do the grunt work yourself. Some VPN providers are creating apps for the Chromebook in the Chrome Web Store, so if you can find the right app, you’re all set. If you can’t, you will have to set up a VPN manually. Luckily, it’s not that complicated:

1. Import the Certificate

You will get the CA Certificate (a key) from your VPN company and you will be sent a file. After you do:

Open a tab > go to chrome://settings/certificates > click the Authorities tab > press import > select the certificate file.

A box will open, asking you what you trust this certificate to verify. Select the option that applies or leave it unchecked if you are not sure.

2. Enter VPN Network Settings

Here, you will need to enter the account and server information.

Go to your account photo > click the gear icon > go to Network > click Add Connection > click Add > Open VPN/L2TP

Next, you’ll need to fill in the required information including:

  • Server hostname: Server Name or IP Address
  • Service name: Name your connection anything you like
  • Provider type: OpenVPN most commonly
  • Choose the CA Certificate you installed from the list
  • User Certificate: Leave blank or choose one if installed. It installs the same way as a CA Certificate.
  • Username: Your VPN username.
  • Password: Your VPN password
  • OTP: Leave blank unless you have a token that generates one-time passwords.

3. Test the Connection

It’s active once you see a key symbol next to the Wi-Fi symbol.

It may sound overly technical, but using a VPN on a Chromebook offers a wealth of benefits and added security. Plus, the set up is a simple step-by-step process you can follow using this guide.