February 2014 is Chromebook month for me

February 2014 is Chromebook month for me

Summary: Beginning tomorrow, February 1st, 2014, I'm conducting an experiment that I'm calling "30 days with the Chromebook". At the end of the month, I'll present my Chromebook diary to you.


I received an Acer* Chromebook for Christmas and I haven't had much time to really work with it. I've gone through the short setup, read my Gmail on it and browsed the web a bit but I've never really taken it through its paces. I've never put it to the test. For the entire month of February, I'm going to use my Chromebook exclusively for everything** business and personal. My experiment's hypothesis is, "Can I survive for one month with just a Chromebook?***" 

Is it possible to use nothing but web-based applications for one month? Most of the work I do is via web applications, so the test is not far-fetched. There are online versions of almost everything I need to use.

Web-based applications that I'll use during my experiment:

  • Google Docs - Word processing, Spreadsheets, Presentations
  • Wordpress - My Frugal Networker blog site
  • ZDNet's Publishing Interface - Articles and posts for Consumerization and Virtualization
  • Graphics Creation and Manipulation - I'm open for suggestions
  • Gmail - Email
  • Other - If I discover that I have other needs, I'll respond to those as I uncover them.

Google Docs can handle my need for word processing. I don't really do all that much with spreadsheets or presentations but if I have that need, I think Google Docs can handle it. As for my own site, The Frugal Networker, I have Wordpress to make those entries. ZDNet's publishing interface is web-based. I'll use Gmail for my email as usual.

The only problem that I anticipate is graphics creation and manipulation. I create and edit my own graphics for my ZDNet posts and my Frugal Networker posts unless there are vendor graphics available or something in the public domain that fits.

If you have ideas for online, Chrome-compatible graphics creation and manipulation sites that you've tested or used, please enlighten me. 

I'm hoping that a combination of Google Apps and other online resources will make my total web dependency easier than I anticipate.

I don't foresee any other major problems with the test because most of the applications that I use are online or have online equivalents. Do you foresee any problems with my exclusive Chromebook use experiment?

My Acer Chromebook is a C710-2856 with a manufacture date of 06/23/2013.

The specifications:

Chrome OS™ - Intel® Celeron® 847 processor (1.1GHz) - 2GB DDR3 memory - 16GB solid state drive - 11.6" HD CineCrystal™ LED-backlit display (1366 x 768) - Intel® HD graphics - Mobile Intel® NM70 Express chipset - stereo speakers - HD audio - webcam - Chrome OS™ keyboard - Wireless - HDMI® - card reader - 4-hour battery - 1-year limited warranty. Color: Iron Gray.

I'm excited to get started and will give you my honest overview at the end of the month, which will include my complete diary and impressions along the way. It should be fun.

I'd love to read about your experiences with the Chromebook. Use the contact form or the Comments section to tell me about your own trials and tribulations.

*I actually requested the Samsung Chromebook but my wife probably went with whatever Wal-Mart offered or she recognized Acer because I buy a lot of Acer products: My old laptop (now a test system), my netbook, and my oldest son's laptop. Brand recognition.

**Exception: My day job.

***No iPad, no Mac mini, no other PC.

Related Stories:

Topics: Hardware, Google, Google Apps


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • would really love to see browser benchmark results posted


    It takes about 5 minutes to run it.
    You can copy and paste a link to the results.
    Or click details and copy all the results but unfortunately you will likely have to edit/format for reading.
    • @greywolf7

      4408 for my Mac mini (Quad core i7 with 4GB RAM) with 7/7 HTML5 capabilities.
      1581 for my Chromebook with 7/7 HTML5 capabilities.
      • Thank You

        3155 for 2011 Lenovo laptop (i5 480M w Chrome 32) 7/7 HTML5 capabilities
      • Stats for 2010 MBAir

        2166 for 2010 MBAir 2.13 (Core 2 Duo L9600 Win 8.1 Chrome 32) 7/7 HTML5 capabilities.
        2456 for 2010 MBAir 2.13 (Core 2 Duo L9600 OSX Chrome 32) 7/7 HTML5 capabilities.
        1437 for 2010 MBAir 2.13 (Core 2 Duo L9600 OSX Safari ) 4/7 HTML5 capabilities.
      • Samsung (old) Chromebook/Box

        Samsung series 3 Chrome Box - 2705 (chrome 32) with 7/7 HTML5 capabilities
        Samsung series 5 550 Chromebook - 1945 (chrome 32) with 7/7 HTML5 capabilities
        Both May 2012 models
    • Fedora 20/iCore7 32G/ Chrome 34.0.1809.0

      Fedora 20/iCore7 32G/ Chrome 34.0.1809.0
    • @greywolf7

      3678 for 7 year old homebrew AMD Athlon 64 3800+ 2.4 GHz quad core / 16 GB RAM / nVidia nForce 430 video with Ubuntu 12.04 x64 and Chrome 31.0.1650.63

      2677 for Acer C720P with ChromeOS 32.0.1700.95
      • 2012 Samsung W8.1

        i52450m, 8GB, 1GB nvidia GT750M

        3954 (chrome 32) with 7/7 HTML5 capabilities
  • I've seen examples of your artistic ability with graphic content, Ken.

    Any basic graphics program will do just fine. Grin.

    Your last footnote about keeping your other PC's off the duty roster for February does have one unfortunate consequence.

    I was hoping that someone could investigate any VPN client software for Chromebooks and report on the experience using such software for "off site" work. For example, "technically", you would still be using your Chromebook even if the work being done was performed on another computer located somewhere else on the web.

    But, if we don't hear from you during February, then we will know if the experiment was a success or not. Have fun.
    • Not VPN but RDP

      I have not used a VPN but I do use Chrome Remote Desktop to remote into my Windows Box. It works really well. Not sure if that is of any help at all.

      On another note... I lived in Kenosha Wi for a year about 10 years ago. Not sure if that is what "kenosha" refers to in your username. But I couldn't think of anything else it would stand for.
      • My ZDNet logon name is a homage to my friends in WI

        From 2000 thru 2003, I lived in Kenosha, Wisconsin and was employed as a corporate power train engineer at the Chrysler Engine facility - now unfortunately just a part of that city's history.

        It is a great city known for it's generousity and friendliness. I will always have fond memories of my time spent there.
        • I visited Kenosha, WI for once

          While driving through the state during Summer break. For some reason I liked driving through Wisconsin in the Midwest area. different from boring I55 drive between St. Louis and Chicago
          Ram U
    • VPN

      Well I woulda thought SSL VPN was a natural fit but NO.
      Chromebooks currently support the following VPNs:
      •L2TP over IPsec with PSK
      •L2TP over IPsec with certificate-based authentication

      SSL VPN solutions or any VPN implementation other than the ones listed above aren't currently supported.

      Of course not supported may not mean it wont work but NO SSL VPN on a Browser seems antilogical. :)
      • OpenVPN

        SSL/TLS based user-space VPN. Supports Linux, Solaris, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, Mac OS X, and Windows 2000/XP.
  • I will follow that

    But I expect that in the end the outcome will be a more or less balanced conclusion due to the fact that this product just exists, and many buy them. Nobody will be really acid against Google or anything related to it, especially in zdnet.com

    The vital aspects IMHO to check the utility of Chromebooks are:

    1. Privacy - How will you test that? Please, show to us how to avoid Google watching your behavior in this machine. How to configure firewalls, edit hosts file, control the in/output of data.

    2. Flexibility - If it is possible to measure, in how many points is the Chromebook comparable doing the same tasks, with the same output at the same rate to the usual PC?

    3. Price - At the same price, can we buy a machine with at least the same specifications?

    These are the definitive test to Chromebooks. These are the questions to be answered.
    • Huh?

      1. Irrelevant. Ken stated that he already used Gmail, and signing into Gmail in a standalone browser and surfing the web from that browser is no different. Either you trust a third party with your data or you don't. It doesn't matter if it's Google, Microsoft, Apple, Evernote, or any other vendor.
      2. Irrelevant. If you can do it from a standalone browser, you can do it from a Chromebook. The outpoint, and your points, are identical.
      3. Irrelevant. Buy a Chromebook and install Linux. Now it has a full-featured OS. If you meant can you buy a Windows machine at the same cost, sure, but it will be a piece of junk because the hardware has to be cheaper to accommodate the OS license.
    • No they are not!

      You wrote: "These are the definitive test to Chromebooks. These are the questions to be answered."

      If you want to make up your own rules for the writers you will need to become a publisher of a popular Tech News site to do that.
    • Oh, and you forgot one

      Can Chromebooks run native Windows applications?


      That is where you were headed right?
  • Wow - Talk about an agenda!

    I can't believe the TROLLS on these Chromebook stories! Just take a look at the Amazon feedback for this $200 gem. There are hundreds of 5 star ratings and just a handful of 1 stars from truly clueless people.
    Some of you must truly be running scared. What's frightening you? These things are hundreds cheaper than a name brand 10" tablet and immensely more practical.
    • Acer C720

      Sorry - I was referring too the Acer C720 for 200 bucks!