August is here, which brings me to the end of my 30 Day Challenge with the Chromebook. I did a pretty good write-up in my Update last week, but I wanted to hit a couple other points I didn’t mention last time.
4G data: The HP Chromebook 14 I got came with a TMobile data chip inside which includes 200 MB of data a month for the life of the device. While on vacation I didn’t need the 4G data much. But, I didn’t have a data connection while at my in-laws (actually, I just didn’t setup their wireless router for me to access), so I tried out the 4G connection. TMobile’s connection was strong in their home, and I had been a few days without connecting to Facebook and such, so I made good use of the data. In fact, I burned through the 200 MB in a short period, doing some Facebook and Twitter browsing, along with checking in with work and personal email. I’d guess that the 200MB lasted me about an hour of full-on browsing…certainly enough for some Gmail and work email, and a bit of Facebook, but not much more than that. TMobile has a pretty decent Day/Week/Month pay as you go plan, but I just decided I didn’t need to get online on the laptop that much, and only used my phone the rest of the visit. Also, the chip inside is only an HSPA+ chip, not LTE, but it doesn’t matter much…TMobile’s HSPA+ connection is more than enough for light browsing…I never found myself waiting.
Keyboard: I continue to be impressed with the keyboard. Again, it’s probably from coming from the keyboard on the Surface Pro which is more compact, but this one definitely feels roomy. Responsive and quiet, the keyboard works well.
Trackpad: This can make or break most cheap laptops. This trackpad is very good. Pinch to zoom works well, along with 2-finger drag to scroll a page. Tap to click is nice, and the click has a good feel to it when I use it.
Battery: Today I took the Chromebook with me to the dealership to get my car’s oil changed and I streamed Google Music and YouTube along with some web surfing for about an hour. I’ve been on it another 30 minutes or so, and right now it says I have 73% remaining, or 4 hours and 30 minutes. That would put me in the neighborhood of 6 hours of battery life. Not super-stellar, but adequate. I’ve also got the brightness cranked up since I’m sitting outside, so that probably is a lot of the reason.
Overall, I’m quite pleased with the device. I was working on a Word document using Office 365 online, and was easily able to save the file to OneDrive. Once it’s there, I can drag it over into Dropbox on a PC. I could also save a copy of the document to the Chromebook directly, then open it in Google Drive, but I needed to pass the documents on to a grant evaluator and didn’t want to mix Google Docs and Excel, so I’ll transfer them over later.
Ultimately, would I recommend the device? I think for most everyone, a Chromebook will do what they need. Connectivity is a must, though… I was early to my oil change appointment so I was sitting in my car, but out of the range of the free customer wifi. I tried opening Docs, Slides, Sheets, and nothing worked. All I was able to open was Calculator. Since wifi is available most everyone someone would want to use a computer in the first place, this shouldn’t be a problem. The included 4G helps with that as well, but I had already used my 200MB of data for the month and I was too cheap to buy more since I’d be inside within the hour, so I just sat and listened to the radio. It worked just fine, just like the Chromebook would work just fine for anyone willing to live in the cloud.