Acer Chromebook, Initial Impressions

Earlier today, I got a new computer in the mail: an Acer Chromebook. For most of my freelancing / working life, I’ve used a work computer in my off hours to write up just about everything. When it became clear last year that I’d be leaving Norwich, I ended up buying a used iMac at a good price, which has been an absolute joy to use. It’s reliable, user friendly, and didn’t require too much effort to get used to.

The problem with a desktop is that it’s really chained to one area, whereas before I have a sort of freedom of movement with the laptop, and while I don’t travel all that often, when I do, it requires some extra finagling, such as carting along an iPad with its keyboard.

I like that setup, but my iPad 1 is getting up in age, and it’s hard to do anything but watch Netflix or read the occasional book on the various book apps that are available for it. Last month, one of my fellow Gizmodo writers wrote an interesting post about how he picked up a Chromebook, rather than a new Macbook.

What hooked me here was the price that he got his at: $173. That’s a staggeringly low price for a computer, especially if you do some light writing and surfing, which is pretty much what I do day to day, especially if I’m on the road.

So, I picked up this little Acer Chromebook for $140. I’ve been playing with it for a bit, and it plays Netflix nicely and seems to work decently as a writing device.

The main main thing that I need to get used to is the fact that there’s no default Capslock button. I’ve trained myself to use that button instead of shifting (for some random reason that I can’t fathom), so I have to get used to using SHIFT properly. There’s a search button that’s in the place of the Capslock that has me opening up a window every couple of minutes. Going into Settings allowed me to move that button to Capslock, which is nice, and makes things easier.

A couple of other buttons are in weird places – Control and Alt, but that’s not bad. The keyboard isn’t all that different from the Mac, and it’s about as responsive, so that’s a plus. It’s a bit smaller, so that’ll take some getting used to.

I’ll have to see if I can get a small wireless mouse for it – my Apple mouse doesn’t seem to want to connect.

I’ll take this out with me when I go away from the house. It’s simple and small enough to toss into my bag and cart along with me, provided I have an internet connecting where I’m going.

The initial impressions that I’ve got? For $140, it’s stupidly simple and cheap, and it’ll fill the role that my iPad just wasn’t filling. Hopefully, once I get on the road later this month, I’ll be able to try it out.