I looked at an Acer Chromebook back in May, pitting its merits against my tablet and Windows laptop. The laptop is still the computer I use most, but at the time, the Chromebook looked more functional than my tablet. This wasn’t (and still isn’t) good news for Apple, as the tablet is an iPad and was discarded by my grandson for the Chromebook.
Now, though, we have an entirely new offering to examine — the LG Chromebase. An all-in-one desktop, run entirely by Chrome OS. I wonder how it will stack up to the previous Chromebook, tablet and my trusty laptop? Let’s find out.
I already know my next desktop will be something like the LG Chromebase — which is basically a Chromebook with a more-useful display and keyboard. Look at the following picture and note my current desktops (yes, there are three). An iMac and two aging tower PCs, each running Windows 7.
The old Windows PCs are for the kids, an arcade of fun. The iMac handles email, video Hangouts, Skype, and generic email. None of those systems deal with intensive applications like video editing or rendering, though. (The Hangouts get difficult with Time Warner Cable speeds, but that is another issue altogether.)
Basic and Safe
I haven’t used a Chromebase yet, but based on my experience with the Chromebook, I am confident that a Chromebase with 4 Gbytes of memory could handle all of my desktop applications. It would run what I need as fast as the desktops I currently have, boot way faster, be more reliable and, most important, be locked down. Look back at the room full of little kids playing games. How frequently do you think they click on some bogus link and download some cool-sounding program that turns out to be crapware or worse?
Of course, this works for my desktop applications but it may not for yours. What if there were a good, Chrome-based version of Microsoft Office? Would that do it for you? Still not satisfied? How about the equivalent of an audio editor like Audacity and an image editor like Paint.net? I still wouldn’t totally give up my laptop, but I’d be getting close.
Microsoft has released Office for the iPad (too little too late?) and will soon have an Android version. It begs the question, is a browser-based version far behind?
In December 2008 Bill Gates wrote a memo warning that “allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by other peoples’ browsers is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company.” In January 2010 Steve Jobs predicted that “The world is moving to HTML5.” In September, 2012, Mark Zuckerberg said “I think the biggest mistake that we made, as a company, is betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native … because it just wasn’t there.” (Yet).
I think they were all right — the trick is getting the timing right (like the Mac, not the Lisa) — LG thinks the time is right about now. Will you be getting one? What more do you need before taking the Chrome leap?
For aNewDomain.net, I’m Larry Press.
Based in Los Angeles, Larry Press is a founding senior editor covering tech here at aNewDomain.net. He’s also a professor of information systems at California State University at Dominguez Hills. Check his Google+ profile — he’s at +Larry Press — or email him at Larry@aNewDomain.net.