Monday, August 9, 2021

New Chromebook or Used Windows Laptop Decision


We are in the last few minutes of our annual Tax Free Weekend for (loosely) school related items where I live. This generally means clothes and computers, but includes all books, Televisions and maybe some other items.

I have a two year old laptop I was thinking of passing it on and replacing it with a Chromebook. I did the same four years ago replacing an older laptop with a Chromebook. My reasoning then was a Chromebook does everything I want to do with a laptop, and doesn't go through the hassle of "Wait! I'm updating" halts at startup. I used to turn on my Windows laptop about fifteen minutes before I really wanted to use it.

My laptop back then had a rust drive, and I think Microsoft had a rusty server to send updates down the line with. Updates were always painful. My main OS is Linux, and everything in Linux is faster in general when compared to Windows. My new laptop has an SSD drive, so everything is now faster. Updates are now a few seconds to a minute verses ten minutes or longer.

Chromebook does things differently. Updates are downloaded and installed invisibly to the user and made ready for the next time the Chromebook is started or restarted. This makes Chromebook updates from the user perspective almost invisible.

With updates, thanks to my Windows Laptop having an SSD drive makes updates a non issue. I needed to look at other criteria. I was still of the opinion that a Chromebook does everything I need to do. Windows is a little flat, offering not a lot other than two notepads without spell check as default for articles and notes.

My typing is sloppy, so I definitely [need] prefer spell check. For me it is easier to correct as I go, than copy an article into a different app to get it spellchecked. I looked around the Windows App store and online for a text editor with spell check.

I ended up installing Atom Text Editor, a text editor not really meant for typing articles and notes. Atom has spell check, works okay, but for my use is a little on the clunky side. I used it for a while, but it was for me a little on painful side compared to many of the editors I may use in Linux. Think of using a huge pickup truck for Uber use. You could do it, but it would be very painful. Strike one for Windows.

Atom Text Editor
Atom Text Editor

On the Chromebook side, there is by default, Keep, Google Docs and maybe one or two other choices. Let's not forget the oldest standby app for typing an article with spell check - any Email app. Mainstream Email apps have built in spell check by default. All in all, in the moment, a Chromebook is looking like the better choice.

I rethought the Windows text editor with spell check dilemma. I use Libre Office for my office suite in Linux, and find it meets all my needs. I am not writing the, "Great American Novel", nor am I managing inventory for a mega business. Libre Office works fine for my needs.

I checked the Libre Office web site, and they have a port to Windows, or perhaps they have a port to Linux? At any rate, I installed Libre Office on my Windows Laptop and now, article and note taking is solved.

Libre Office Suite

At this point, it is a toss up between keeping my Laptop of getting a new  Chromebook. Running out of simple comparisons between my Windows Laptop and a Chromebook. I decided to check with a few other experts. My experts are online reviews on websites who's opinion I trust. Perhaps the websites I trust think like I do, but using them and following their opinion has not yet led me astray.

By the time I read all about 2021 Chromebooks on the third website of Chromebook reviews I knew I was coming to the end of the decision making process of Windows Laptop verses new Chromebook. They were all in agreement on what make and model Chromebook I would be happy with.

My online review reading narrowed my Chromebook search to about three Chromebooks. Now, my current two year old Windows laptop set me back about, $750.00 after taxes. The three Chromebooks I was thinking about were in the $650.00 plus range. Hmm.

There are also a few down the road limiters with Chromebooks. The first are the limitations of upgrading. I'm not sure upgrading can be done or is viable on a Chromebook. The second and perhaps more important is the software upgrade life cycle. I am not too keen on laying out $600.00 plus and have the OS tell me a few years down the road, that my upgrades are over with no option to upgrade.

Chromebook upgrade life limitation is serious. There are no real roadblocks to installing Linux an any laptop that is usable. There are real world limitations to installing Linux on a Chromebook. Chromebooks add extra hardware to make removing Chrome OS and installing Linux difficult if not impossible. Like cell phones, they are throw away items.

Once my comparing, research, and cost points were completed, I decided my Windows Laptop is working just fine, and will meet my needs into the near future. I am a little critical of where Chromebooks are currently at, and where they are going.

Chromebooks are not using leading edge components, yet the best quality Chromebooks are priced as if they are. The middle of the road Chromebooks from my perspective offer either a screen you actually want to look at, or a keyboard you want to type on. Of course, with either a nice screen or usable keyboard, you will probably be offered limited memory and storage.

I decided I am using my Windows Laptop for the foreseeable future. Windows OS has not thrilled me for some years, but when it comes to the bottom line, a used Windows Laptop is a better value than a new Chromebook. I hope when the new Chromebooks come out later this year, Chromebooks will be better value for the money. I think sellers feel the economy's wallet is pretty fat in the moment, so I do not expect to see Chromebook prices drop. On the other side of the coin, Windows Laptops seem to be feeling the pressure of Chromebooks.

Along the same line, I feel the same about cell phones. No one is paying $1000.00 for a home phone, and $70.00 a month for phone service. Yet Tech Companies want us to believe that 20 year old technology still demands premium prices while utilizing the cheapest components possible for the build. Some months ago, I dropped my premium Cell Phone carrier for a cheaper one. Guess what? Nothing has changed except the money I now have in my pocket.

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