Here I go, my first post from my new toy, a Samsung Chromebook 3 (affiliate link). It was delivered last night for an experiment to, hopefully, help me write more without the distraction of my normal laptop. Here’s my take so far:
It Isn’t an iPad
Before I get into my thoughts on the device itself I should point out that this isn’t my first attempt at a device to focus with. In fact, up until the end of 2017 I had gone through a string of iPads and fancy keyboards ending with an iPad Pro and the Apple keyboard case. With every generation I bought into the idea that “this time it can be a productive device” without ever finding a way to make it so for me.
Why couldn’t the iPad work for me? There are two reasons. First, the keyboards, no matter how expensive, made it hard for me to write where I want to, usually my recliner in my living room. I went through about 1/2 a dozen keyboards over the years and not one of them worked well off of a solid service like a table or desk and those places just aren’t the best for me to write.
The second issue I had with the iPad was its multitasking. While this got better with later versions of iOS, it was still difficult, at best, for me to swap between reference materials and other apps I needed to do my job right. At best the workflow always felt clunky and, in any case, it left me saying “I’ll wait until I go back to my laptop to finish this post” all too many times.
Yeah, these are excuses. I get that. As someone who gets distracted easily though they contributed to me walking away from far too many posts. This is the same reason I could rarely finish a post on my main laptop too. I would start something, find a minor bug and spend the next 4 hours re-coding something on my site.
Really, all it comes down to is the “Squirrel” effect is alive and well in my life and a dedicated machine like this helps me focus just a little bit better and, frankly, every little bit helps.
The Samsung Chromebook 3
So on to the new toy, the Samsung Chromebook 3. I ordered it from Best Buy as it was on sale for $189 for the latest version and, at that price, an experiment to see if it could help me focus seemed more than worth it.
Why the Samsung Chromebook 3?
After comparing relatively similar machines from Acer, HP, and Samsung this machine simply gave me the most bang for the buck. It’s well built and just powerful enough to be a solid blogging machine without enough power to distract me with other tasks such as getting into the code of this site or something other rabbit hole.
What I like about the machine
- It’s small and light, really not much bigger than my old 9.7″ iPad Pro with its keyboard and I can fit it in a small bag and be out the door with it easily.
- ChromeOS just feels familiar. I had considered a low-end Windows Machine but, as I already use Chrome and have an Android phone, ChromeOS seemed like a natural fit.
- The keyboard is great for typing. Seriously, this is as nice to type on as my old 2012 MacBook Pro. The iPad keyboards might have been usable if I used them on a table but this one is actually nice to type on wherever I’m at. That’s a huge win for me.
- It’s great for browsing and not much else. It may sound weird to say I wanted a less-powerful machine but that is exactly what I was looking for. My primary machine is a beast of a Linux laptop made by System76. This could never replace it. When I use it though I find things to tinker with on this site or other projects. Here I can’t do that anymore. What I can do is write, handle Google Docs, build slides or do pretty much any other task I normally do in the browser anyway. It’s perfect for all except for getting stuck falling into rabbit holes and that’s a good thing.
Where this machine could be better
- The charger is a bit finicky. I’ve already found myself accidentally pulling it out more than once. I don’t know how long the battery will last, yet, but it will be easy to test that if I don’t pay attention.
- The screen isn’t the greatest. For the price, it’s adequate but I feel like I’m looking at an early LCD screen from 2003 or so.
- The trackpad is super sensitive. I keep misplacing the cursor here as my thumb runs up against the trackpad. I’ll need to play with that a bit before I do too much more writing.
So what will it take for me to call this machine a success? That’s simple. Do I start writing more and stop wasting so much time browsing Twitter and others on my phone. Considering I’ve had it less than 24 hours and I’m already putting out this post with it I think I’m well on the way to considering it a success, but I’ll leave the final judgement as to whether it helps me hit my blogging goals in 2019.