At the gym a six-pound weight feels like nothing. I almost think I’m cheating.
But when it comes to laptops, six pounds feels more like sixteen. Especially when I’m heaving it onto the security belt and lugging it through an airport.
“What on earth is she doing carrying a six-pound laptop when traveling?” I already hear you asking.
And to that I say valid question. But before I tell you why, please allow me to give you a few more details about this laptop to help you better visualize the magnitude of the silliness I’ve been dealing with over here.
My Lenovo computer is a true workhorse that comes equipped with two internal hard drives and a 17″ screen. (That screen is practically the size of a standalone monitor you get to accompany your normal-sized laptop, not something you’d be stupid enough to take with you anywhere.) The laptop weighs in at 6.2 lbs – and that’s just for the laptop. (And yes, those .2 lbs do indeed count – both to the airlines and to my shoulders.) There’s also the power supply we can’t forget, so go ahead and tack on another 1.7 lbs for that (which you may note weighs about as much as a small laptop). In short, this thing is a beast.
But back to your question. The reason I used to bring this computer with me on trips was because it was all I had. When we drastically downsized and needed to fit basically everything we owned into just a station wagon, my former desktop computer was clearly not coming with us. But since I still needed a powerful machine to do some of the work I was doing, I opted to get the next smallest thing: my Lenovo “desktop replacement.” And I can personally testify that my Lenovo does indeed fit on top of my desk and I may need to replace my back from schlepping it around the world.
If you were to see me in a coffee shop when I pulled this sucker out you’d no doubt wonder if you’d magically time traveled. But no. You and I would both be firmly in the 21st century and you’d surely have a good chuckle (or perhaps sneer in disgust that I would show myself in public with such a disgraceful relic). Either response would be warranted.
So yeah. It was clear I was long (long) overdue for something slightly more “normal.”
Laptop Shopping: The Criteria
- medium-sized (10″ is way too tiny for frequent typing)
- good-quality screen (my eyes are bad enough already)
- low-ish price (hoped to keep it under $200 (but failed))
I waffled between a full-featured laptop with Windows on it and a Chromebook, and there were actually some decent Windows ones priced at about $250-300 (cheaper than I anticipated). But Chromebooks were generally more affordable (with more options closer to my $200 target) and many met most of my criteria.
In the end I chose the Toshiba Chromebook 2 CB35‑C3300 13.3″. It was pricier than I wanted (about $330 at the time) but it has a full HD IPS screen which I’m told is a better type of screen.
Here it is (kinda looks like a Mac ripoff, actually, which is definitely not what I was going for):
I didn’t realize just how much of a difference it would be going from 6.2 lbs to 2.9 lbs would be. But man this thing is light. It’s so compact and easy to carry and I fell in love with the small-ness of it immediately. What was I thinking lugging that other brick around for so long?
The screen is quite good though perhaps almost too good. I found I had to enlarge the native font size because otherwise it’s so damn tiny I have to strain to see it.
The battery life is reportedly around 8 hours, but I think I get closer to 6-7 (perhaps because I like the screen brighter than the default setting). I also love the super-fast startup time.
What I didn’t anticipate is how annoying the Google Chrome Operating System can be. They tried to dumb it down so much that I feel like it makes decisions for me I’d like to make myself (there are very few settings available so customizing just about anything easily is not an option).
I’m also not a huge fan of always being connected to the Internet in order to enjoy the full functionality of the machine. And I know plenty of people love Google Docs, but it’s just not my favorite, especially when working offline. I find it tedious to move around files that have been saved offline in a temporary place to their more permanent home once I’m online again.
And while I don’t miss the bloatware and appreciate being able to add only the apps I want to use, I didn’t foresee not being able to install programs and apps I’m accustomed to using on a regular basis. Roboform is one of them. Scrivener (writing software) is another. There’s a workaround for Roboform, but as far as I know Scrivener doesn’t function on Chromebooks.
Most of this stuff I pretty much knew ahead of time since I researched the shit out of my options. But even if you spend hours and hours (and hours) looking up a gazillion pros and cons, sometimes you just don’t know what a new technology will be like until you use it yourself.
Since I mainly use my Chromebook for writing, my issues with it are not that big of a deal. I know no solution would’ve been perfect and it’s just taken some time getting used to.
So am I happy with my Chromebook? Mostly. Do I wish I had instead gotten a Windows-based laptop? Kinda. Is this the most inconclusive “review” ever? Probably. (Sorry. ;)