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?
With this new Chromebook, this has been fixed. The new Intel Celerondual-core processor handles all audio/video processing I threw at it.The only downside is that it appears to have reduced the battery lifefrom 8.5 hours to 6 hours, which is too bad but not devastating. The fan is also not as extremely quiet as its predecessor, but then itspredecessor had the quietest fan I have heard to date. Finally, thescreen shares a key negative trait with Apple's ( AAPL - Get Report) MacBooks -- it doesn'tbend all the way forward, like a Lenovo ThinkPad does. The keyboard and trackpad are now at least on par with Apple's bestlaptops. I go forth and back numerous times every day, and I giveSamsung the slightest edge over Apple here, a first for any laptop todate. The screen is a matte 12.1 incher, which does its job superbly.Yes, an Apple MacBook will give you higher resolution, but the Applescreens have horrible reflections given the glass. Unlike the MacBookAir, the Chromebook has an Ethernet jack.
1. "Chromebooks can't run the apps that I use."
You got me there! It is true that some people need to run apps thatdon't operate on a Chromebook. Two examples that come to mind are Skypeand iTunes. That's just the way it is. Another example is Microsoft ( MSFT - Get Report) Word, Excel and PowerPoint, but for those there is a counter-argument -- many people are now fine automatically convertingthose into Google Docs. I have undergone that transition myself andit worked just fine. It may not be for everybody, but for some peopleit's actually an improvement. Google Chromebooks are mostly for those who live mostly inside theGoogle cloud, using Gmail and Google Docs. There are hundreds ofmillions of people who fall into this category. Yes, the world is alot larger than hundreds of millions of people, but that's still alarge market.
2. "Why pay $449 for a laptop when I can pay $100 less for a Windows laptop?" There are two counter-arguments to this charge: A) The simple hardware quality alone of this second-generationSamsung Chromebook is not on par with a $450 Windows laptop, let aloneone for $350. I just told you that the keyboard and trackpad is atleast on par with an Apple MacBook, which starts at $999 and goes allthe way up toward $2,000. Then consider battery life, weight and soforth and it's clear that strictly based on just the hardware, Ithink $449 is a bargain right there. B) The more important argument is the one outlined at the beginningof this article: Cost is about the time wasted on all sorts of things,not what you put on your credit card the first second of ownership. AChromebook will save you thousands of dollars over three years thatyou would have otherwise wasted fixing stuff, talking to tech supportand waiting for things to happen. 3. "Why not just use the Chrome browser on any Mac or Windows machine?" Now this is the most devious argument in this whole debate, againstwhich very few people know to argue. I do! Here it is: The factthat a Chromebook uses the Chrome browser (duh!) is irrelevant. Thecase for the Chromebook would be no different if the Chromebook ranFirefox or Internet Explorer. Yes! Contrary to what everyone seems to assume, it's not about thebrowser! What's the difference between this or that browser anyway?Nothing vital or relevant to the case for or against the Chromebook,as far as I can see.
The key here is it's about the operating system, not about the browser. Google may even have made a mistake here, in calling the product a "Chromebook."Users are almost led to believe that they're buying a "more limited"PC because this laptop "only runs a browser, after all." It is the operating system, not the browser, that yields themanagement and security benefits of the Chromebook. That's whatgenerates the savings in aggravation and time. In other words, you don't buy a Chromebook in order to run the Chromebrowser. If it ran Firefox or Internet Explorer, it wouldn't havemade any difference. It's the operating system that makes thisproduct into a zero-maintenance, high-security, instant-boot computer. If you buy a Windows or Mac laptop, you don't get any of thesebenefits. Sure, you can of course use the Chrome browser, but sowhat? Can most people really tell the difference between the threemajor browsers anyway? My contention is that they cannot. But theycan tell the difference between a computer booting up in eight secondsinstead of two minutes, and whether they have to waste an hour or twoevery week on maintenance and troubleshooting, versus never having towaste a second on fixing it -- ever.
Physically speaking, the Chromebox is as close to an identical copy ofthe Mac Mini as you will realistically get. It can be hooked up to acouple of large displays, keyboards, mice -- the usual stuff.Depending on your computing needs, this would be the ideal computerfor fixed work environments such as Wall Street trading desks oranyone else requiring much larger display area, for example, two 30inch displays with 1080x1920 resolution.