A couple of years ago, I tried switching from a Windows laptop to a Chromebook. It didnâ€™t work. At the time, I was simply too entrenched in my specific needs to make the switch. Things have changed since then. For over a year, Iâ€™ve been using an ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 as my primary computing device. Besides having a mouthful of a name, it’s a great little machine. The combination of it plus my Samsung Note 9 has been nearly perfect. I say nearly perfect because I recently ran into an issue where my Chromebook couldnâ€™t cut it. Some will call it an edgecase, but it created a problem nonetheless.
I recently found myself in need of a resume. I have one, sort of. Itâ€™s been years since I actually needed a resume, so I haven’t really stayed on top of it. I tried building one from scratch, but quickly realized that it was garbage, so I hired a professional. This particular professional, like many others, uses Microsoft Office, specifically Microsoft Word to create documents. I wasnâ€™t concerned. As a Chromebook user and Microsoft Office 365 subscriber, I assumed everything would be seamless. I mean, I could simply use the web version of Word, right? Yes and no. It turns out that the online version of Word doesnâ€™t play all that well with all desktop versions of Word.
The resume contained a lot of formatting that didnâ€™t translate well from the desktop to the web version. My attempts to make edits and leave comments from within the web version were a disaster. Formating got destroyed, things disappeared from the page, and I quickly became frustrated. Within a day of going back and forth with the author of my new resume, I realized that I had found an instance where a Chromebook simply wouldnâ€™t cut it.
Sooo, whatâ€™s a guy to do? I havenâ€™t purchased a Windows laptop for myself in nearly five years. I literally started digging through my computer graveyard, i.e. the closet for one of my old machines. There were plenty to choose from. In the end, I ended up using an old 15.6-inch Sony VAIO to edit and complete the resume. The VAIO is a bit long in the tooth, but itâ€™s a nice big machine to type on. I appreciate the screen real estate for going back and forth between documents, notes, etc. It worked out quite well.
In the end, I received a new resume and went on my merry way. However, it made me realize that as much as I like my Chromebook, the platform still â€œisnâ€™t thereâ€ yet. At least not for me. For Chromebooks to be truly mainstream, this type of thing canâ€™t happen. At least not as long as such a large number of folks continue to use Microsoft Office as their content creation suite of choice. I understand that this is as much Microsoftâ€™s fault as Googles, but when given the option, it seems logical to stick with a Windows machine for the immediate future.
Consider this, I can use Chrome on a Windows machine to seamlessly do everything I can do on a Chromebook. I canâ€™t do the opposite, at least not seamlessly. Iâ€™m sure the Chromebook zealots — and Microsoft haters — will disagree, but it doesnâ€™t change the fact that my struggles were real. As PC laptops continue to get better, and Chromebooks continue to become more expensive, a decision that used to simple is much more complicated now. This is especially true now that Microsoft has embraced Chromium in their new Edge browser.
Given that one can purchase a nice Windows laptop from Lenovo, Dell, HP, or Microsoft for around the $1000 price point, it makes spending $800-$1000 on a nice Chromebook a tough sell. Iâ€™ll continue to use my Flip for now — as I said above, it’s a great little machine — but Iâ€™m currently on the hunt for a new Windows laptop. Iâ€™ve narrowed my search down to a select few machines from Microsoft and Lenovo.
2 thoughts on “Rethinking Chromebooks”
I have a Lenovo laptop and itâ€™s great. Iâ€™ve also used them off and on at work, and theyâ€™ve been great.
Downsides: Sadly the newer T490 doesnâ€™t have the additional battery option some older models did; the display is still 1440p, not 2x, for most models Iâ€™ve seen: and although there isnâ€™t too much preinstalled software you may want to wipe and reinstall the OS.
Havenâ€™t used a Surface so I canâ€™t comment, but the Lenovos Iâ€™ve used (X and T series) have been workhorses. I also like the trackpoint so thatâ€™s another positive for me.
Thanks! I’ve had 2 ThinkPads and a few from the Lenovo consumer like. Loved the ThinkPads. I’ve been looking at the T490S. My only concern is from reviews that indicate a poor dim screen and middling battery life. Still, it’s on my short list.