Saturdays with Stephen: I Went With a Chromebook

I purchased my first Mac, a Mac mini, a few weeks ago. After those few weeks of owning two desktops, I decided that I wanted to sell my Mac mini and pick up a MacBook Air instead. Well, I successfully sold my Mac mini, but buying a MacBook Air didn’t turn out so well. After a few days of considering my options, I actually ended up purchasing a Samsung Chromebook.

The question is: why would I do such a thing? I purchased my Mac mini in the first place because I wanted to finally have access to various Mac-only software such as the Mac App Store catalog and Xcode (for no reason other than having it at my fingertips if I ever did decide to attempt learning some Objective-C). I have a fully capable PC that I built myself, and besides Xcode there’s not much software that doesn’t have a Windows equivalent. So having a Mac desktop made even less sense.

Therefore, I sold my Mac desktop with the intent on buying a Mac laptop. I wanted something that I could be productive on — I didn’t want another content consumption device such an iPad or a Nexus 7. I also wanted something that was fairly light, could fit in my new laptop messenger bag, and was not worth being worried about if  I carried it around in public.So a Macbook Air seemed like a good choice. And don’t get me wrong, I’m typically someone who prefers the Apple ecosystem over Microsoft’s. If I had never had a Windows desktop — and I had the money — I would have probably started with a Mac desktop in the first place. In this case, though, I needed a portable production machine.

But I asked myself what I would be using a MacBook Air for, and I decided that I couldn’t justify paying more than $600 for an underpowered, used MacBook Air on craigslist. Especially when I mostly intended to use it to browse the internet and compose articles in WordPress. Why would I purchase a high-quality aluminum Mac to just run Google Chrome?

And that’s when it hit me. I shouldn’t. I have no use for a Mac other than having a portable web browser, and in my case — and like most — I prefer Chrome.

At half the price of an entry-level iPad, I couldn’t resist. At the very least I decided that I should try it out and see if it was able to do everything I needed to do away from my desktop. So far, it’s looking good. I have a web browser beta of Spotify, an in-browser image editor, and outside of those two things, I don’t really need a desktop on the go. I can sync my iTunes library at home, and I already carry it around on my iPhone too.

Essentially what I wanted was a full Chrome experience, a full physical keyboard, and the ability to compose articles in WordPress seamlessly. I already spend around 75% of my time on my full-powered PC inside Chrome, and the other 25% of applications I use, I don’t need access to on my laptop.

Also, the iPad didn’t work for me in this situation due to how simply impossible WordPress is to use. The browser interface is crippled, and the native iOS application is feature-less. I actually typed this article on my Samsung Chromebook as an experiment, and it turned out better than expected. The entire WordPress interface works exactly as I know it on my desktop, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better at a price point $50 cheaper than an iPod touch.

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