ANDREWTHONG

DEV/ IXD/ TOOLS

Chromebook Checkboxes

After traveling with a tablet primarily as an emergency remote-work companion twice, I realize that it is not the right tool for the job despite the compact form factor. It didn’t help that the tablet was the original ASUS Google Nexus — which started slowing down because of inefficient flash storage. I missed my 15” Macbook Pro, but also feel it is overkill given I do not need to leverage a quad-core CPU and GPU while abroad.

So I made a list of wants:

  • Inexpensive
  • Can run Unix things
  • Physical keyboard
  • Compact
  • Backlit keyboard
  • USB charging

A Macbook Air or the ultracompact Macbook might check a lot of boxes, but even used it was moderately outside my price range. Low-end Windows laptops were cumbersome. I love the Microsoft Surface’s form-factor but it wasn’t cheap either when a keyboard costs extra.

In this low-end range, Chromebooks stick out. I settled on a no-frills 11” Acer that’s very underpowered on paper. However, Chrome OS is not as demanding on the hardware. It was good enough for my needs. A large jump in size compared to the 7” tablet, but I could get things done significantly faster on it. For roughly the same price.

I went with what I felt was good enough for my needs, balancing my wants and needs with my budget. I had to sacrifice a lot of weight and bulk, USB charging, and the backlit keyboard. Raising the budget could mitigate, but I also didn’t want to bring along more expensive electronics while traveling.

Prospective buyers will not just have varied key requirements, but will also weigh features differently based on what they want to achieve or solve. And sometimes good enough is enough.