Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Google Chromebook for Back to School

The first day of elementary school for my two sons and daughter is this Thursday, August 28.  With the new school year comes a decision on what device(s) they'll use to do their school work - both in class and at hime.  Readers of this blog may recall my post from last year where I discussed how my middle school-aged son uses a Google Chromebook.    This year I have another son entering middle school and I have to make a similar decision.   Looking back over the past year, here are my perceptions of the original Samsung Chromebook:
  • Perfected suited to my son's curriculum which includes heavy use of Google Apps for Education.  Google is also rolling out "Classroom" for teachers to "create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and easily communicate with their classes."  It will be interesting to see if my sons' school adopts Google Classroom.   Not to be outdone, Microsoft offers Office 365 free for schools
  • Low cost.  However, the Samsung Chromebook does have a low-cost look and feel.  In fact, a strip of grey plastic recently broke off the back.  I was, however, able to use super glue to repair it.  
  • Low maintenance.  I'm the technical support desk for my family and aside from the broken piece of plastic mentioned above, there was nothing I needed to do to the Chromebook for an entire year.  The Chromebook provides automatic updates and there were no virus or security issues.  Setup was also a breeze - turn on the Chromebook, log into Google and that's it!
With a positive experience with the Samsung Chromebook, I was leaning heavily towards another Chromebook for my second son.  With several additional manufacturers now making Chromebooks (Acer, HP, ASUS, Samsung, etc.) there are lots of choices.  After a trip to my local Best Buy to see the options in person, my son decided on the Acer C720P touchscreen Chromebook which also happened to be on sale for $260.  It's a great looking laptop made of low gloss white plastic, with a quality look and feel that beats the original Samsung Chromebook hands down. My son has already started to use his new Acer Chromebook to complete summer schoolwork and likes it.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is working on its own "Chromebook killer" and and is partnering with HP and others to deliver a low-cost Windows laptop.  For example, HP has announced their new "Stream laptop" due out soon for $200 and leverages upgraded HP Chromebook 14 hardware.   I'll be taking a look at this laptop when its available.  UPDATE: I purchased an HP Stream 11 laptop in April which is now running Windows 10

Finally, I purchased a Canon PIXMA MX472 printer on sale from Amazon for $50 with support for both Apple AirPrint and Google CloudPrint.  While AirPrint didn't involve any setup and is working out the box, I'm struggling to register the printer with Google CloudPrint.  I receive an error on the printer on the last step of the setup process:  "Cannot connect to the server, try again."  I'll keep trying.


TexasSwede said...

My girlfriend got the Acer C720P and loves it. She is using it even more than her iPad, even in bed.

Chris Pepin said...

Thanks Karl. My son loves his as well and uses it more than his iPad Mini lately.