This is why I won’t be getting a Chromebook despite my best intentions

samsung Chromebook

I just finished writing a news story on Chrome OS’ new developer update (experimental) that supports Microsoft Word and Excel files to be directly edited in Chromebooks.

I was pretty convinced that Chromebook is exactly what I want as my travel and secondary computing machine after figuring out that tablet devices just don’t cut it for me anymore.

A Chromebook is lightweight, gives long battery life, has a superb keyboard (talking about Samsung series 3) and offers a nice, although somewhat cheap build quality and design. Samsung series 3 looked like the perfect companion I have always wanted for my online and offline writing purpose.

Yes, I write a lot. Whether they are news stories, how-to and tutorial articles, blog posts on personal life, or occasional fiction, I write every day most of the time. Carrying a heavy laptop just kills productivity. And lightweight, long-battery life is the feature of Ultrabooks, which are pricey.

Samsung series 3 Chromebook is perfect. I’ve read many Amazon reviews from real user (who are writers/editors) that after getting their Chromebook, they literally stopped using their tablet because it works just the way they want it to.

I might have already bought a Samsung series 3 Chromebook if I hadn’t been waiting for a second generation to pop up. But a news article confirmed that a second generation of Samsung series 3 won’t be coming this year.

However, that’s not what made me not want to get a Chromebook anymore.

The Bandwidth Problem

You got that right.

Many people say that the only reason they don’t want a Chromebook is because it requires Internet connection all the time. Well, that’s when Chromebook first arrived a couple of years ago. Chrome OS, the operating system running on Chromebooks, have improved significantly over the years. It now has a desktop computer feel with a background, native-apps (though they run on browsers) and offline support. Yes, you can work on Google Docs without an active internet connection. Your work will be synchronized with your Google Drive the next time you are connected to the internet.

Sounds like the perfect second computing device, right? Yes, but with a catch.

And that’s “Updates.”

One of the nicest features of Chromebooks is that they update automatically whenever a new security fix is released. That includes new features as well. But the problem is, you won’t be able to pause updates or “download later” at your convenient time. Whenever an update is found, you will have to download it right away. There are hacks to stop Chromebook from downloading updates, but that raises security concerns.

If I had a 4 mbps speed all over the city, I wouldn’t have worried. It would take less than a few minutes to download and install the updates and I’d be happy as ever. But in Bangladesh, we deal with connections as slow as 5 to 10 kilobytes per second at worst. Most ISPs provide a 256kbps Internet speed. Imagine me turning on my Chromebook to get some important and urgent work done as quickly as possible and Chrome OS starting to download updates as they arrive.

Sucks.

And this is the single reason that turned me away from buying a Chromebook.

I was attracted to Chromebook (Samsung series 3). I watched countless unboxing and reviews on YouTube. They all said that the keyboard is as good as it gets at its price point. The plastic body feels cheap, but I’m okay with that. What I am not okay with is the auto-update.

Again, this can be turned off. But “that’s a hack.”

So, turned down by the inability to turn off automatic upload from the system settings, I’m now looking for a cheaper (but pricier than the Chromebook) alternative that has a superb keyboard, extended battery life, less weight and affordable price point.

Have you ever considered a Chromebook as a secondary computer? Why/Why not?

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4 thoughts on “This is why I won’t be getting a Chromebook despite my best intentions

  1. I agree with much of what you wrote. I have had my Chromebook for about two months. Even in the US there is places where good internet connections are hard to find. But my negatives for the Chromebook go far beyond internet issues. Its a cloud OS that relies solely on Google’s ecosystem and because of that. Chromebook’s will have limited appeal. I know several people who simple bought a Chromebook on price alone and then realized it was simply too limiting for their use. Its a niche device that may expand to a wider niche as more high speed internet becomes available. But in the end, its still a Windows world and for some, being able to work on a PC without internet is still a requirement.,

    • Well, the Chrome OS had improved over the year and as far as I know it does work offline (the things you can do offline such as editing documents). Most of the time I find myself firing up Chrome after logging into Windows and closing Chrome before shutting down Windows. That’s why despite the internet connectivity issue I’m still considering a Chromebook (mostly because of its price, longer battery life and ultra portability). But I’m not sure yet.

  2. I am currently on extended travels with a google chromebook. I purchased an internet wifi hotspot that seemed perfect for my needs, paying by the gigabyte, I figured I could avoid streaming media and get reasonable internet access for a reasonable price.

    Unfortunately, my chromebook went to work in the background, downloading a major update that doubled this month’s expected charges for wifi. It’s not that I can’t afford it. It’s that I can’t control it! I’ve currently shut off the chromebook and am relying on my conventional laptop on my phone for must internet work.

    In short, I couldn’t agree more with your concerns.

    • Thanks for adding your experience, James. A Chromebook user recently told me that you can stop the updates on Chromebook. I’m wondering is there an option like that? Can you explore and perhaps let me know?

      Thanks.

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