Come on Google. I just need those Android apps and then my Chromebook is perfect

It’s been just two weeks since Mobile World Congress and my post about our truly mobile headquarters has caused a great deal of interest.

I got asked on email if my laptop had changed. My first response, of course, was, “Yeah! Have a look at this earlier story!“. I had changed to a Toshiba Chromebook which cost just £140 off eBay.

Now, I’ll try not to go over old ground. You know that I love Chromebooks and yes, I’ve signed my life away to the Google Identity Machine. Over the months I’d found that my Windows laptop needed less and less apps installing for my usage.

– Writing an article or letter? Google Apps or Office 365 would sort that.
– Need to connect to work over a VPN? The Citrix Viewer does that.
– Connecting to a Linux server over SSH? Yeah, there’s a Chromebook app for that too.

Also, let’s not forget, there’s a raft of Android apps coming to Chromebooks soon enough. The full list is here and it includes the Chromebook I’m using now, but it’s not quite ready yet. Come on Google!!

However, I’m here to let you know that there are a few shortcomings. They’re not massive but I have had a few questions about this so I thought I’d stick them into a little article. Firstly, this particular Chromebook doesn’t have an Ethernet port. Some of them do, some don’t. This one definitely doesn’t. Secondly, no – you can’t install Windows apps (although you can RDP to a Windows PC or another laptop if you have an old one kicking around). Thirdly yes, if you want to do some heavy graphic work or video editing then it will suffer. My little Chromebook is great for carrying around and – at £140 – I’m not going to freak out a great deal if it gets scratched or broken.

During the Congress I did a quick check of the Press Area and yes, sure enough, I was heavily outnumbered by MacBooks. For a LOT of the media they have the pure horsepower and required hardware config to edit video content on the fly and edit hi-res photos in seconds. You can install programs on them and yes, you can do all the stuff I’m doing on my Chromebook in the next booth.

Trouble is, and this is one major difference, mine was £140 off eBay and the average MacBook is going to set you back around £1,249. Bit of a step up in cost. On the last day of the event, when the insanity was slowly fading away and reporters were beginning to take their heads out of their laptops, I had a bit of a discussion with the guy set next to me about this. He loves his MacBook, and rightly so, it’s a properly gorgeous piece of equipment. However, he then went on to tell me that he would never leave the house unless he had the appropriate Mac insurance. I, on the other hand, only had travel insurance. If the Chromebook got damaged, it was my own stupid fault.

Passing through the local PC World this weekend, I’m always keen to try and pick up the current themes. What are people buying? Desktop PC’s are definitely favoured in the workplace still, but at home they’ve definitely died off. Windows laptops are filling the gaps, and MacBooks are popular too, but – unless I’m going nuts – there’s a definite trend towards even more mobile computing in the form of iPads, iPhones and other Android smartphones.

I’m a bad example – I carry around a Chromebook but, if I didn’t write all day long, I doubt I’d need or even use something with a physical keyboard any more. I think, if I’m brutally honest, that I’d be fine with just a smartphone.