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TheStreet Open House

Review: Google's All-New Laptop Saves Time and Money

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What was the biggest cost of owning that laptop or personal computer you've had for the last three years? Was it the price you paid ($500 or $2,000), the software you bought or was it that $299 warranty?

Most likely it was none of the above. It was time.

Let's add it all up, shall we?

  • 1. Updates and upgrades: How many times do you update or upgrade the software on your PC? Once a month? Once a quarter? Most likely, you will have some update at least once a month. How long did it take?
  • You have to figure out which updates to do versus which to decline. Then download them. Then install. Then reboot. You probably spend at least 15 minutes per week doing this. That's 13 hours per year.

  • 2. Rebooting: When you buy a new laptop, it often takes perhaps around 30 seconds to reboot it -- the first day you use it. Once you have installed everything, it always seems to slow down a lot. I don't know many PC users where a full reboot -- until everything has "settled" -- takes less than two minutes. Often it's a lot more.
  • Let's say you reboot once a day. That's two minutes. 730 minutes per year. Again, that's about 13 hours.

  • 3. Security issues: Sometimes, you click on a link in an email or download something that causes trouble. How often does this happen and how long time does it take to resolve? The swing factor here is obviously gigantic, but let's say that it happens twice a year and takes three hours to resolve each time. That's six hours per year.
  • 4. General tech support and troubleshooting: Things just go wrong for reasons unrelated to security breaches. Applications just don't work. There is a blue screen. The computer freezes. Over the last 20 years, how many times did I call Dell (DELL) for general tech support, and how many hours did I spend over the phone for that?
  • On average, I may have had at least two such major tech support events per year, each taking at least three hours. That's six hours per year.

    Now let's add up the points shall we? That's 38 hours per year, 76 hours over a two-year period, 114 hours over three years -- almost a small European vacation.

    How much is your time worth? 114 hours, at $20 per hour, that's $2,280. At $100 per hour, $11,400. What this means is that for most people, by far the biggest cost of owning a PC over three years is the cost of time wasted on things such as tech support.

    The Samsung Chromebook, based on Google's (GOOG) Chrome OS, saves you from all this.

    With a Chromebook, your laptop boots in less than 10 seconds, and you never spend any time on security issues, general troubleshooting or updating the software. You pay $449 or $549 for the laptop up front, no software or warranties to buy. Just... work. No wasting thousands of dollars in time and aggravation over the next two to three years dealing with problems and lost time.

    The Actual Laptop: It's A Samsung!

    Let me turn to the actual hardware for a moment. One year ago, Samsung launched its first Chromebook. It had a good 12.1-inch screen and keyboard, and under the hood was a dual-core Intel (INTC) Atom central processing unit. The only serious problem with the device was that the CPU simply didn't have the horsepower for audio/video processing beyond a certain -- too low -- level.

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