Full time Chromebook use - 3 months in

In advance of getting a Chromebox for my grandfather, I picked up a cheap refurb Acer C720 to finally give Chrome OS a shot. I expected to just use it as a test machine to make sure he could do everything he needed. Three months later, I'm surprised to report that this little $140 machine has become my primary computing device, and I'm looking forward to my next Chromebook.

Living in webapps

Most of what I'm doing now on my personal machines can all be done through web apps or a Chrome extension. I didn't realize just how reliant I am on webapps to my home workflow. Naturally Google's webapps are available, but a surprisingly large amount of other things work great too: Plex, Teamviewer, Subsonic, Hangouts, Evernote.... They all work great on a Chromebook.

There is also a built-in video player, and file manager which ties into Google Drive or any attached storage. I've plugged both FAT32 and NTFS formatted drives in with no difficulties.

The only "major" losses I've had moving to a Chromebook are access to Samba fileshares on my server and my Keepass database. The file share issue has been solved by accessing them through crouton install of Ubuntu. As for the Keepass database, I unlock the database on my phone, and then transfer the required data via Pushbullet's clipboard sync feature. Sure this puts a certain amount of trust in Pushbullet, but in my eyes it's just as secure as putting my information into any website utilizing https.

If you're an iTunes user, then you're kind of out of luck on a Chromebook. Sorry.

But what if I don't have an internet connection?

Sure the "Scroogled" ads say I can't do anything with a Chromebook if I don't have an internet connection. It may have been the case in years past, but now it's just not true. As long as you've opened Google Drive and the document editor at some point while connected to the net, it will work just fine offline and re-sync work back into Drive when you next connect. Frankly though, in this day and age I'm going to be limited in doing work done with my laptop if I don't have an internet connection -- regardless of the OS my laptop is running.

That said, the Chromebook does a really awesome job of getting me connected to the internet wherever it might be available. USB tethering with my Android phone worked out of the box and I've used it several times now to access my phone's LTE connection instead of the flakey Amtrak wifi.

The other stuff

Thanks to crouton I can switch easily between Chrome OS and Ubuntu for the occasions I need some more tools that fall outside of the Chromebook norm. For the most part that's meant accessing fileshares on my server, adb/fastboot, Gnome partition editor, and VLC. When I need a little something outside of the ordinary, it's nice to have those options. That said, they aren't tools most users are going to need, but adding on a full Linux desktop for those occasions is certainly nice!

On the whole, I've been impressed with what a modern Chromebook is capable of and I've used my Nexus 7 much more sparingly in the months since. Nowadays it's the first thing I grab at home when it's time to do anything other than read my feeds.