Chromebook or not?

Hi everyone

So I recently posted, I don't know if anyone would remember, asking about getting a custom built laptop that I was going to install Linux on. Well I've had a go with a laptop that is the same size and to be honest, its just too big, 14", for my purposes. Even 13.3" was too big and so I've decided to get an 11.6", which seemed to be the perfect size. I've narrowed it down to two choices; the Acer C720 - and the ASUS Vivobook S200E - - with an i3.

The Acer I would be able to get for £180 ($300) and the ASUS I would be able to get for £330 ($550).

My reasoning behind getting the Acer is that its so cheap and has an SSD, however I'm worried because people who have installed Linux on this struggle to get the track pad working. This is an issue for me because I'm not such a Linux pro and I do not want to use a mouse as that defeats the purpose of the whole thing.

My reasoning behind getting the ASUS is that it has a more powerful processor and I trust myself better to get things working on that. And also, I prefer ASUS as a brand to Acer, my last laptop was one and is still going relatively strong after around 11 years or so, I think. 

For anyone wondering what I will be using it for. All I will be doing is taking it to University to write up notes, browse the web and write programs.

Thanks for any advice you can give. Hopefully the last time I have to write about laptops.

I just picked up an Acer C710 on Friday for $189 CDN. (actually typing this reply on it). Really liking it so far. In terms of a portable machine, it does everything I need it to and does it well.

Haven't played around with installing Linux on it yet but I do plan on doing so, but after I've swapped the slow 320GB HDD for a 120GB SSD and bumped up the ram from 2 to 4GB.

It's not a powerhouse in terms of gaming or anything like that, but I did load it up streaming 3 720p youtube videos at the same time, with maybe a dozen more tabs open and it didn't flinch.

Don't know if that helps you out at all but just thought I'd share my experience with something similar to the C720 you were considering. 

Yeah, thank you. I was considering getting the c710 because of the ability to upgrade as, from what I have seen at least, most of the parts on the c720 are soldered in. Which is a shame really.

But yeah, thank you for letting me know. And if you do install Linux I wouldn't mind knowing how it went. 

i picked up a C710 acer a few weeks ago and put linux on it. but it's not the linux experience i was looking for. you basically had to boot into chrome OS then open the bash command line to start up your other linux os. and you could switch between the two but you can't boot straight into it. although there could be another way to do it. and i did run across a guy that hacked together a bios to flash it so you could run win7 but the keyboard and track pad didn't work with that bios.  i ended up giving it to my son (he's 2.5 years old) and he uses it to play on

i would go for the full laptop unless all you need are web browser functions. another option does come to mind though. i bought a lenovo S 10-2  a few years ago off of craigslist it has an intel atom processor it's not the fastest thing but i use it for work to flash my modules. i also wiped the hard drive and installed win 7 starter. 

Yeah, that was another thing I was worried about, having to load it all the time and not being able to just load it up and go. That's really pushing me towards a full laptop. 

Go for it, get it pushed up to 4GB and a 120GB SSD, your golden, they are not designed for gaming, but put linux on them I am sure you could play some old games, even the chrome games.

You can install another OS on them, takes a little tinkering on them but it works, I personally would go Arch/Gentoo or Debian.

I am looking at these and I have herd nothing but good news, change the 3 cell battery for a 6 cell also, give your self like 6hr of battery.

Or you can wait a while to see what ASUS push, if it can be tweaked get it, if not get a C710 and upgrade it, I am currently looking into if they can take 16GB RAM, can you imagine that!

I tried the C710 route, I  flashed it with coreboot and installed Mint, and i wasn't happy , battery life sucked: 4hours & track-pad sucks balls. It's useful as a kitchen computer, but definitely not usable as mobile companion.

I ended up buying a Lenovo e145 without OS for 315€ + 130€ samsung 250gig evo840 ssd and installed opensuse13 with lxde on it, I get about 10 hours batterylife wifi-on brightnes 1/3 (which is still very bright). The lenovo has an excellent keyboard & a much sturdier enclosure, allot more conectivity... The only caveat was that I had to fiddle a bit to get the hardware-keys for screen-bightness to work.

See that's one of the things I'm worried about. I don't want to have to upgrade it to make it decent I just want it to work. That and the fact that to get I need out of a Chromebook I would have to install a distro that I'm nowhere near confident enough to install. 

Buy a used Asus EeePC 1005P or similar (any linux natively compatible Wi-Fi card version with the big battery).

Put a 120 GB SanDisk or Kingston cheap SSD in it.

Install Android_x86 4.4 KitKat on it.

Voilà, gaming ready high performance portable computer for under 100 USD...

And yes, you can actually play Android games on it, the Atom N450 is about 8 times as powerful as the ARM chips that run the same games in other devices.

You also get about 10 hours of battery autonomy.

Will easily beat the user experience of a Chromebook, while offering great Google Apps integration, and offering more functionality.

Android is also easy to hack, and you can still use bash in terminal for extended linux functionality.

I don't really understand CrOS, why did Google bring this to laptops when they already have Android?

When you do get a Chromebook, deep hack it with a new Coreboot BIOS without bootloader lock and install a full native linux distro on it, don't just run a chroot, it's not a good experience.

10 hours battery life sounds glorious. I wouldn't need to charge it for 2 days. And out of interest where did you buy with OS? Because I would rather do that on a laptop but I can't find any places except getting one custom built, which leads to not being able to get the right screen size, like I mentioned before. 

Funnily enough, my current laptop is an eeePC. But it's too small for me now. Also, I would like something a little faster, at the moment it's struggling to load Web pages. That's the reason I'm looking to upgrade.

And yeah, I was thinking that too. You can do more with android then chromeOS. I would get the chromebook without a question if I was confident I could do that, and maybe install a better distro than what I have at the moment. 

I still use my EeePC every day (1005P with 2GB of RAM and 128 GB SSD). For the moment, it has Mageia 4 KDE on it, but that's a bit too slow for my liking, even with tweaks. It runs really well on XFCE though, but KDE is the only GDE on linux that has a netbook mode, that allows for big fonts, but at the same time popu-up windows that aren't taller than the 600 pixels vertical screen resolution.

Even with KDE, I have no problem whatsoever playing back 1080p videos through the external display output, and everything works really well.

If firefox is too slow, you can always optimize pipelining in firefox so that websites load faster. That makes a huge difference. Using Firefox ESR instead of the latest development version also brings more speed and less annoying dysfunctions, whilst being even more secure.

I like the clamshell EeePCs, they are incredibly solid, ideal to take everywhere. I did replace the TIM on the CPU (it's just cooled by a straight slab of copper with a fan mounted to the side, ex works it has no TIM but one of those 3M thermal sticky patches, and that makes the Atom throttle a lot, by applying a good TIM there is quite a lot of performance improvement). My EeePC gets banged around like you wouldn't believe, I throw it in my briefcase or bag without any protection or padding, but I get 13.5 hours of battery life on wi-fi from it, and it does everything a normal PC can do, so I don't see any newer product on the market right now that fits my use case scenario any better for the moment. I would like a battery powered x86 miniature PC with a built-in pico-projector though, but nobody makes it, and it's too time consuming right now for me to build one myself. Also, miniature-PC's are extremely expensive for what they are, and hugely under-powered for their price, and there are practically no x86 dev boards available to make one myself, and mITX is way too big and bulky and has full desktop PC power requirements.

Something similar to this mate?

I'm finding the more I use CrOS the more I like it. It's actually more practical to use for various things than the Android OS on my Asus eeePad TF101 transformer tablet. 

For someone that is primarily doing emails, fb, browsing, youtube, netflix etc.) and doesn't game, CrOS actually makes a lot of sense and could be a better solution for many people instead of full blown windows. You can still be productive with google docs and you don't have to deal with a touchscreen interface in a laptop (which I'm not a fan of). I know you can use a USB mouse or the track pad, but in Android OS, which was not designed for mice/cursors, it can be very awkward at times depending on what you're trying to do. 

To add a 120GB SSD to my Acer C710 the total cost would still equal that of the Samsung Chromebook which cannot be upgraded in anyway and is stuck with only 16GB storage.

So far I've found that it's the slow 320GB HDD that is the main system bottleneck, not the processor. So it's capable of more, that's for sure.

On my Asus transformer tablet, certain web pages and content does not load properly. Sometimes it loads the mobile versions of websites and sometimes not. Other times it's missing key options and you end up stuck, not able to select/click on the link you want (because it's not showing) even after refreshing several times. With my new business, I need to rely on certain websites and website utilities to load properly. If I can't even navigate in the most basic manner then it's useless to me.

CrOS loads everything properly and it's fast and light. That is FAR more useful to me than being able to play some games. But, to each his/her own. ;)

Wow you are ridiculously good with computers!

My eeePC is still good, but it's starting to get quite cramped and slow. Is Firefox faster than chromium?

I know what you mean though about nothing getting near them. The keyboard on mine is the best I've ever used, if only it was bigger. 

well you can get it with windows 7 or 8 preinstalled, but not Linux as far as i know. But if windows is good enough for you, you should get about 8-9 hours of Battery-life since Lenovo usually does a good job of optimizing energy usage.

Yeah I noticed that. I would just use Chrome OS if I could edit and compile code. Also, if I could write my notes in LaTeX. That and I get an SSD without having to pay extra too. Its difficult making this decision.

Yeah, I know that the ThinkPads are some of the best laptops to get. But its difficult for me to get hold of a decent one at a decent price. Otherwise I think I would definitely go for one of them.

you can switch the m.2 i believe

Yeah wooooh! Chromebooks! I am using a Pixel dual booting between chrome OS and Arch