The following is not an endorsement by FSU or ITTS, and “buyer beware”… Oh, and I’m getting nothing back from either Samsung or Google, unless I can “work a deal” later;-)
The new Samsung Chromebooks went on sale at the end of October. The price was $249, and there were several sites listing that price, including Amazon.com and Google.com. But, when I heard about them, about a week after they went on sale, there were none to be had at any of the listed sites. All on backorder! I went online and found what I thought was a good review, so it hastened my purchase. I think I would have bought one even if I hadn’t seen the review, but maybe not as fast.
It took about two weeks for mine to arrive. The Samsung box that the device came in is about 14″ tall, 14″ wide, and about 2.25″ deep. Now that I look at it, it’s almost like a small pizza box. The shiny silver laptop is 8″x11.5″ and about .5″ thick. It is lightweight, but sturdy, and the full-sized keyboard is comfortable.
You don’t install programs to it. It is basically a web browser (Chrome) with the capability of adding various plugins (many free) to provide more functionality. So, it boots up really quickly (about 10 seconds) and you are able to start browsing, or check email in a short time.
If you have a Google account, Gmail, or use Google Docs, then all your “stuff” is going to be there when you login the first time. And, if one Chromebook gets damaged, lost, or stolen, then get another, and login to it, and there is all your data. That’s because most of your info resides “in the Cloud”. *You can also use Chrome on a Windows PC, and login to your Google account, and your data would be available there also.
The Chrome browser plays Flash and can display PDF docs. I’ve found a few areas in Blackboard that don’t display properly, but the majority of Bb content works perfectly.
I was in Elizabethtown, NC on Veteran’s Day, and attached to the e-town Library free WIFI, and pulled up YouTube. I created several YouTube videos while sitting in my car, uploaded them, and then played one of them back with almost no hiccups.
Some of the ITTS staff were in Chapel Hill earlier this week, and I was able to post some talking points to my WordPress site, by sending an email from my Chromebook. Then I got up and gave my presentation after pulling up the posting from the Web as it was projected behind me.
I hooked the Chomebook up to my HDTV with an HDMI cable. The device comes with one HDMI port & two USB ports. As soon as I attached the HDMI cable between the two devices, the Chromebook screen popped up on my TV. I played a YouTube video, with sound pushed to the TV with no problem, and then played a game.
I tested out the Bluetooth capabilities. I have a wireless Logitech Z515 Bluetooth speaker system. The Chromebook hooked up to it with no problem (you have to supply a Bluetooth dongle via one USB port) and I started streaming an iHeartRadio station to the speakers.
I bought a cheap Cisco Linksys WIFI router from WalMart and took it home. There was an install CD for Windows or Mac, but… the Chromebook has no CD/DVD player. However, I contacted the Cisco tech support via Chat, and the rep quickly walked me through visiting a special IP address where I was able to remotely add my network name, “The GIBSON Network,” and enter a password. All this was sent back over the Internet to the router, and very quickly I had a secure home network where not only my Chromebook could connect, but also my Logitech Revue, and my HTC EVO 4G (Android phone). I suppose that other routers can also be setup remotely… but, I don’t know that for a fact.
There are apps and options to allow you to work on email and Google Docs while offline (not connected to the Internet by WIFI). Then, when you are connected later, the data is uploaded automatically to the Cloud.
There is a “Citrix Receiver” app that, “in theory,” will allow you to use the Citrix apps (e.g. Outlook, MS Word, etc.) on the Chromebook. I’m still having a problem getting that to work, but eventually the bugs should be worked out.
The Chromebook may not be for everyone, but it may turn out to be an inexpensive, but powerful Internet device for those that use the Web for most of their work processes. *It might be worth looking at as a pilot project for some areas. There are quite a few higher ed institutions that are using Google Docs officially for their students, and the Chromebook is made to “fit like a glove”.