New MacBook for me? No, Samsung Chromebook on the way

New MacBook for me? No, Samsung Chromebook on the way

Summary: My MacBook is getting long in the tooth and I have been thinking for months what I would do to replace it. Those spiffy MacBook Airs look nice, and that new MacBook with Retina Display is really cool. In the end I decided to get what will work well.

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Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook

My 13-inch aluminum MacBook has served me well for years. It has at least a million words on it along with hundreds of thousands of miles of travel. It's still ticking, too, although showing signs of fatigue. I have been looking at a replacement for my old friend, and surprised myself by going cheap with a Chromebook.

I am an acknowledged gadget freak and I would love a shiny expensive toy for my every day work, but after careful examination I realized that would be overkill. I am platform agnostic, I regularly switch working among the MacBook, Windows desktop, Windows laptop, iPad, Android tablet, well you get the picture.

The truth is no matter what gadget I am using, I am always, without fail, doing my work in the Chrome browser. Google was ahead of the game by releasing the Chrome browser on all of the major platforms. I can do my work, without compromise, in the Chrome browser.

That realization made me look anew at the Chromebook. It runs an OS that is an extended Chrome browser, and that fits my work needs perfectly. Google updates the Chrome OS regularly and those updates just appear on the Chromebook without intervention. The idea of having a laptop that updates itself all the time is liberating to me.

Finding out I could get the latest Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook for $450 sealed the deal, and one should be arriving at my home office today. I can't remember when I have been so excited to get such a cheap laptop, but I think the Chrome OS has evolved to make it a perfect fit for my work needs.

I will be sharing my thoughts on the Chromebook when I get some time under the hood, but for now I am anxiously awaiting for the man in brown to arrive. It's not a solution for everyone, but I think it's the right one for me.

Topics: Mobile OS, Google, Laptops

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70 comments
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  • Interested

    As one of the original Apple "fanboys" I'm interested to hear about your experience with the chrome book. I retired my aging black MacBook this past Spring, but as cool as a new Air was I ended up with a very basic Mac Mini as my needs (also a writer) simply didn't justify a new "shiny".
    My concern with Chrome is how deeply is Google in my private realm? Security is a big issue for me with them. I stopped using the Chrome browser over it.
    dheady@...
    • Chromebook Security

      The Chrome browser strikes me as significantly more secure than Safari. If you want to look at security, here are two good places to start:
      http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/how_does_google_protect_your_data_in_the_cloud.php
      http://dev.chromium.org/Home/chromium-security

      Within a 6-week period this summer, I replaced a Chromebook prototype that had been dropped on concrete one too many times, and my wife's 5-year old Macbook 13 (the ones with the white cases that crack, and optical drives that fail). We first bought a MBA 13, but it died after 10 days, so we ended up with a more flexible, but heavier and slower MBP 13.

      Getting all my wife's data off her old Mac proved to me more trouble than expected, and some of her software will not run under OS X 10.8 (aka Mountain Lion). Setting up my new Chromebook required less than 15 minutes, with no data migration or software issues. Her new Macbook Pro is pretty to look at, but feels it like a stone compared with my new Chromebook. I have yet to see her do anything but use the web with it, so basically the Mac was a waste of money, and a Chromebook would have met her needs at less than half the cost, half the weight, and far less than half the startup speed.
      S_Deemer
  • You have bought a dodo

    Google (or Samsung) must have paid you, the product you have just bought is going nowhere it is dead as a dodo.
    pjc158
    • And why is that?

      Do you think that you could you back that comment up with some facts that demonstrate why it's going nowhere?
      tjmason
    • Yeah, that web thing is a passing fad

      -
      Carney3
  • I've done it for long stretches

    I, too, spend all my time in Chrome and most of it in Google Apps for my work and Drive for my personal stuff. I was never unhappy with the system, but Chromebooks aren't available here, so keep a Chromiumbook updated and with working Flash is actually a chore. That drove me away.

    As soon as they are available in this country, I'm getting one.
    daengbo
  • New MacBook for me? No, Samsung Chromebook on the way

    You willingly paid $450 to be spied on by Google and its limited capability laptop. We will see how long it takes before you hand off your chromebook for something else. If I was going to pay that much I'd just get a fully functional laptop instead where I could load my choice of apps and browsers.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • We know, but you are clueless

      "If I was going to pay that much I'd just get a fully functional laptop instead where I could load my choice of apps and browsers."

      Read slowly: HE DOES NOT NEED THOSE "apps and browsers".

      What part of that do you not understand?
      D.T.Long
    • Trade-offs

      You carefully fail to mention the upside of Chromebooks. Faster boot time, drastically better security, ease of synchronization across devices, constant online backup, automatic updates for OS and ALL apps. Not to mention easy move to new device with ALL files, apps, preferences etc.

      A very compelling model for both Grandma and modern web-centric techies and young people.
      Carney3
  • Good choice James

    and Linux is full of choice. Linux is liberating. Chromebook is yet another example of how well Linux is doing.

    Best of Luck.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz
    Your Linux Advocate
    Dietrich T. Schmitz + Your Linux Advocate
    • So glad you joined us

      You keep telling us that Linux is full of choice. Linux is liberating. We also keep hearing that Windows 8 is evil because it is anti-choice. It doesn't liberate. This is due to secure boot that prevents you from easily installing any other OS on the hardware.

      So DTS, I started looking up instructions on how to install a different OS on the Samsung Chromebook. I discovered that Samsung has implemented something called "OS Verification" that prevents you from modifying the OS on this otherwise perfectly normal x86 compatible hardware. To turn that verification off, and I'm not making this up, you have to open the case, remove a bit of tape and flip a small switch.
      http://cr-48.wikispaces.com/Set+Developer+Mode

      This is Linux being anti-choice. This is Linux being evil. This is horrible. Where is the outcry in the Linux community about this behavior?

      DTS, your reputation has been soiled.
      toddbottom3
      • Not entirely

        Here's instructions for installing Ubuntu 12.04 on both Chromebooks and Chromeboxes:

        http://chromeos-cr48.blogspot.in/2012/04/chrubuntu-1204-now-with-double-bits.html

        Dual-booting Chrome OS and Ubuntu 12.04 is quite interesting.

        P.S. DTS, good to see your posts here again.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
        • You are more than welcome to stop by G+ where I post most often these days

          The environment there is quite civilized and enlightened and the tech population is quite engaging all without stooping to personalizations or trolling.
          Dietrich T. Schmitz + Your Linux Advocate
        • I followed your link and it said exactly what mine did

          "To get started, make sure your Chromebook is in developer mode and has a developer BIOS installed
          ...
          Entering Developer mode is easy:

          1.Remove the battery.
          2.Peel off the sticker that hides the developer switch (see image 1).
          3.Flip the developer switch towards the battery connector (see image 2).
          4.Put the battery back in.
          5.Turn the device back on.
          6.Press Ctrl-D at the scary warning screen.
          7.Wait 5-10 minutes and any saved information on your device will be erased.
          8.Congratulations, enjoy hacking in Developer Mode!"

          This is complicated for end users. Out of the box, this thing will not let you install any other OS. The fact that you can you go through complicated steps was always irrelevant when it came to Windows 8 secure boot so I'm sorry Mr. Monkey, I will not accept that argument here.

          Unless now it is okay to release something in secure mode as long as there is a way for users who are really interested in dual booting can follow a process for turning off the secure mode? If so, I would like to see you on the next SJVN attack piece telling him that he is wrong to hate Windows 8 secure boot. Will I see you there?
          toddbottom3
          • Hi!

            That information is slightly off. You actually do not have to do any taking apart of the Chromebook at all in order to switch to Developer Mode. It is literally a 2 second affair.
            Turn Off Chromebook.
            Locate recessed switch to the upper right side of the keyboard.
            Switch Switch.
            Enjoy Developer Mode.
            Ryan Anti-Hero
          • Does that disable secure boot?

            Thus making the device less secure?
            toddbottom3
          • Re: Thus making the device less secure?

            In what way?
            ldo17
          • I'll forward you to the link, you make up your own mind

            Here is the link provided by D.T. Long to his hero SJVN's thoughts on having to turn off secure boot in order to install any OS you want to:
            http://www.zdnet.com/another-way-around-linuxs-windows-secureboot-problem-7000000829/

            "Yes, you can disable it. But 'disabling' something that's 'secure' makes you bad."

            Not my words, not my logic. Take from that what you will.
            toddbottom3
          • Not a security hole

            Flipping the developer switch wipes the machine clean, so there's no security exposure. And the switch is there for use by developers, not end users.

            Expect to see a selection of future Chromebooks aimed at end users that do not have the switch.
            ellett
          • Your argument is flawed.

            So what if it's complicated for end users? That's irrelevant. End users aren't going to be buying a Chromebook to Install another OS on. They're going to be buying it for the simplicity of Chrome OS.

            And your information is not relevant to commercial Chromebooks. The tape was only on the Cr-48, which was Google's limited distribution beta test device.
            ellett