I began my junior year of college with a new toy – the Acer 720P Chromebook. For the past two years I’ve been using an Asus Transformer Prime, one of the first tablet-laptop hybrids, as my note-taking device. Although it served me well, it was beginning to feel slow and out of date. So I decided to give Chrome OS a try.
Having now used Chrome OS for over a month, I am confident that it is the best mobile operating system for students.
The most important part of a note-taking device is the ease with which you can write and take notes. Although Android, iOS, and Windows RT support a keyboard, they are still, at their heart, a touch-screen/tablet operating system. In many cases the screen and keyboard are not attached as firmly as a laptop and as a result the device is less comfortable for writing in reclined positions. A Chromebook, like any small laptop, is comfortable to use while lying in bed.
Chrome OS handles split windows properly, allowing me to re-size windows quickly by dragging them to the side or top of the desktop. This feature is still lacking in OSX and many Linux desktops environments and it is nice to see it here. A Windows-like taskbar resides at the bottom of the screen, but I can also easily manage my visible apps using browser tabs. I often prefer this management system when I have a textbook and assignment stored in the left window and my written response in the right.
Despite Google Docs’ rise in popularity, many people are still hesitant to use systems not supported by Microsoft Office. This resistance unfounded; I haven’t opened Office since I bought my Chromebook. The Google Suite, combined with some really nice plugins, can do everything most students need. It is also the university standard for collaborative writing, so switching to it completely makes for a more seamless experience.
Codeanywhere is a great cloud-based IDE. I’m a huge fan of Sublime Text and it took me a while to find a cloud-based competitor I was happy with. Codeanywhere gives me a split-screen layout with an integrated terminal. It also allows me to connect to my College’s computers through SFTP.
Everything I’ve described so far can be done on any mainstream laptop. But the real bells and whistles of the Chromebook are the lackthereof.
The Chromebook, unlike tablets and smart phones, is not marketed based on what it can do. It is marketed by how well it can be done. My Chromebook is fast – it books in seven seconds, which is even quicker than my SSD/i5 laptop. There is rarely any noticeable lag, and if there is it is because I have too many tabs open. I restart regularly to get the latest updates, and I do so without being afraid that the update will break my device.
My Chromebook is everything I wanted tablets to be. It is fast, light, simple, and cheap. I can drag it around with me without the fear of breaking or losing anything too expensive. It does everything I need it to. This is the device I would recommend to all students.