Tag Archives: series 5

The Latest Chrome OS Update

I liked the old boot screen

I updated the Chrome OS on my Samsung Series 5 yesterday. I thought chromebooks were supposed to update automatically when you turn them on, without the fuss and interruption that you associate with updating a Windows machine. However, when I went to the About Chrome OS page in Settings, I saw that there was an update available. I had to manually click a button to begin the update. Since this was the first time I had gone through this process, I didn’t try to open any other pages or do anything else until the update was complete. It took several minutes and reminded me of Windows updating on my school computer. Oh well, no big deal.

When the update was complete, the first thing I notices was the new boot screen. Instead of the black screen with “Chrome” in the center (which I really liked), the new screen is white and any graphics look pale against it.

Once I logged in, I noticed that the app icons on the New Tab page were huge. In the old New Tab page, I could adjust the size of the icons, but I haven’t figured out how to do this since the update.

For the past month, Google Docs has given me the option to use the Classic or the New view. I’ve been using the Classic view since the New view is pale, like the new log-in screen, and difficult to read.

On a brighter note, I like the features of the New Tab page and the new format of the Chrome Web Store.

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Chromebook – 3G Test

Always Connected

The Samsung Series 5 Chromebooks come with 100 MB of data per month from Verizon – FREE!  This feature played a significant roll in my decision to trade in my netbook and iPad for a chromebook.  I’ve tested the Verizon 3G from my house and it worked, but the wifi at home is fast and reliable, so I haven’t had a reason to really use the 3G…until today.

We spent the day at my in-laws, and AT&T’s data coverage there is not good – no 3G, just Edge.  My iPhone 4 drags when loading web pages.  I fired up the chromebook, disabled the wifi, and enabled 3G.  I was impressed!  The indicator showed that I only had a bar or two of service, but web pages loaded quickly and Google docs ran smoothly.  However, when I loaded a You Tube video, it stuttered a bit.  To be honest, though, with only 100 MB/month, I doubt that  a person would be watching much video without a wifi connection.

Bottom Line:  The free 3G was great for viewing web pages, checking email, and editing documents.  I wouldn’t recommend watching video because of the limited amount of data available and the lag.


The Appeal of a Chromebook’s Simplicity

I enjoy writing lesson plans on my new Chromebook.

What drew me to getting a chromebook was it’s simple design, which led to ease of use.  A Chromebook is definitely a niche product.  You have to do your research before you buy one, but this is true of any tech purchase these days.  Analyze how you use your current device.

I got an iPad 2 to replace my netbook because the netbook was so slow starting up and launching software.  If I needed to check the weather or shoot out a quick email before school, I wouldn’t have time because it took so long to fire up the old netbook.  After using the iPad 2 for a couple of months, I noticed that I used it for:
1) School-word processing, spreadsheets, email, and online research
2) Blogging & YouTubeing
3) Entertainment-Netflix and surfing the web

The iPad 2 was perfect in every area except it wasn’t practical to type a math assignment in Apple’s word processor-Pages.  Again, I like things simple, and Pages is a simple, yet powerful word processor, but it lacks an equation editor for typing math problems.  Before purchasing the iPad 2, I did my research and found a way to work around the lack of an equation editor, but when I put it into practice, my workaround just wasn’t practical.

I had looked at Chromebooks briefly before I got the iPad, but chose the iPad because it was more portable.  Samsung’s Chromebook is instant on, has a great battery life (8.5 hrs), I can type math tests in Google Docs, and while I’m at it, I can update my calendar, and consult my lesson plans that I keep in a Google spreadsheet.  I can email my lesson plans to my principal directly from the spreadsheet, and I don’t have to worry about keeping my school computer synced with my home computer.  Everything is on Google Docs-I can access it anywhere.


Chromebook: First Impressions

It looks good.

My new Samsung Series 5 Chromebook came in this past Wednesday. I’ve been so busy with end of the quarter grading and parent/teacher conferences that I’m just now getting a chance to really play with it.

Here are some first impressions:

1) Nice size – The 12.1″ screen doesn’t feel cramped like my old netbook, but you don’t have to sacrifice portability.

2) Love the simplicity – Chrome OS seems like it will be a good fit for me. So far I don’t feel like I’m “missing” anything.

3) The price was right – I watched Series 5 prices on eBay for about a week while I sold my netbook and iPad 2. New chromebooks were selling for $360 to $400 including shipping. I got lucky and was able to get mine for $322 with free shipping. Retailers like Best Buy and Amazon are selling them for $499.

4) No need to buy software – When I bought my netbook, I also bought Office 2010 Student Edition ($80) in order to write math tests and lesson plans. When I bought my iPad 2, I had to by apps for those same tasks: Pages ($10), Numbers ($10), and MathBot ($5). Google Docs has all the features that I need for my school work…and it’s free!

5) Feels cheap – My iPad 2 felt heavy yet well made. The Series 5 feels heavy yet cheap. This isn’t a major issue for me, since my chromebook will not normally leave my house. For anyone who plans to tote it around, I would suggest a well padded bag.

Overall, I am pleased with my purchase. I used Google Docs on my school computer to write a couple of tests earlier this week, and I used a Google spreadsheet to write my lesson plans today. At the moment I’m writing this blog on my chromebook (I normally use my phone to compose posts…its nice to have a real keyboard for a change). So far, the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook has been a convenient, easy to use gadget.


My Chromebook Is On The Way!

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Isn’t this a beautiful machine?

I put Google Docs to the test last week. I sold my netbook and iPad in the midst of midterm exams, so I had to use Google Docs on my spouses desktop to type my tests. Typing an equation heavy math test was just as easy as using Microsoft Word on my old netbook, but I didn’t have to worry about saving a copy in Dropbox.
Using Google Docs was infinitely more convenient than using my iPad to create a math test.

I’ve mentioned before how much I loved my Gateway Lt2104u netbook with Microsoft Office for doing school work…but booting was just…too…slow. The instant on feature of the extremely portable iPad 2 was a welcome change. Doing lesson plans on a Numbers spreadsheet was fun, and Pages is a great word processor for a teacher…as long as you don’t teach math. I found a decent work around that allowed me to insert equations using an app called MathBot, but it just wasn’t practical for large numbers of equations. See my related video.

I debated between the iPad 2 and a Chromebook this summer, and decided to go with the iPad 2. The iPad 2 is a wonderful machine, it just lacked an equation editor in the word processor- a feature that less 1% of the population would ever notice (closer to 0% than 1%).

I’m quirky when it comes to gadget purchases. Even though Chromebooks are not as popular as iPads (understatement), I think the Chromebook will suit my needs. I just bought one on EBay today – factory sealed for $322 total (it would have been $499 from a retailer).


Samsung Series 5 Chromebook vs iPad 2

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Earlier this summer, I was torn between which gadget to replace my netbook with:
•A more powerful ultraportable laptop, like a 13″ MacBook Air or Acer TimelineX
•The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook
•The iPad 2

Cost concerns eliminated the ultraportables from consideration, so let’s focus on the Series 5 w/ Wifi & 3G and the 16GB iPad 2 w/ Wifi only.

Now, this may seem like we’re comparing apples to oranges, but both of these system are priced at $499, and were in competition for my money.

Storage
Series 5: 4GB, with documents and music stored online and Apps are web based. There is also an SD card slot.
iPad 2: 16GB, with documents, music, and apps stored locally on the device. However, storage is becoming less of a concern for iOS devices with the arrival of services like Dropbox. In addition to that, a new feature of iOS is online backup of iTunes and App Store purchases – so you can download apps and music that you’ve purchased when you need them, delete them when you are done, and re-download as needed.
***In my case, this category was a tie, but I don’t require a lot of local storage.

Design and Portability
***I like the design of both devices – large enough to meet my needs, yet still portable.

Productivity
Series 5: Google Docs has evolved into a very capable office suite for a math and science teacher (like me). The only strike against Google Docs is that you can’t work off-line (though this may change in the near future).
iPad 2: iWork is a nice, simple office suite for educators. I don’t get bogged down in a bunch of features that I don’t use. The main strike against iWork is that it’s word processor lacks an equation editor – a must have for a math and science teacher.
***I lean toward the iPad 2 in this category because there wasn’t a way to work in Google Docs off-line, but I was able to work around iWorks lack of an equation editor with an app called MathBot.

Battery Life
series 5: 8.5 hrs
iPad 2: 10 hrs
***iPad 2 takes this category.

Connectivity
Series 5: Wifi and 3G, with 100GB of free data per month from Verizon – that’s awesome!
iPad 2: Wifi only
***At the $499 price point, the series 5 wins this category, with the free data making this a very compelling device.

As you know, I chose the 16GB iPad 2 with Wifi because I was concerned about not being able to work on documents off-line. I considered the 3G version of my iPad, but in the end, Wifi connectivity is sufficient for me. On rare occasions that Wifi is not available, I can use iWork on on my iPhone. We will see how well the iPad works as my primary home computer for the 2011-2012 school year.