Larry Brody is writing away on his – OMG! – Chromebook?

by Larry Brody

LB’S NOTE: No, this is not a paid product review. It’s not even my attempt to see if I can match the style many writers use in the samples they send when asking if they can write for TVWriter™. (I almost always say no.) What this really is, is me trying to make myself give my full attention to what I’m writing and only what I’m writing, while I’m writing it, something all these years of blogging and editing and semi-retirement have enabled me to for the most part avoid.


There comes a time in every writer’s life when he/she/it/they sit down at their Windows-loaded PC, boot that baby up – and either it taunts you with the blue screen of death or, worse, tells them in much less positive terms that it’s time to go get a cup of coffee, or a beer, or have some tequila because another update that no one asked for has decided that right now is the best time to load, configure, and drive everyone mad.

The only writers I know who haven’t had this experience, with a great line of dialog left just hanging in their brain with no place to go are, of course, those who don’t use Windows. Like members of the Cult of Mac. Or Linux geeks.

Or, since only a couple of years ago, men, women, and others who have dared to go where very few have gone before and are gazing at the screen of their Chromebooks.

A couple of months ago, fed up by the latest removal of my favorite program from Windows at the most recent update, I joined the Chrome crew. Here’s what I found out:

PROS:

  • Superfast boot time. Made even faster because Chrome doesn’t want you to have to boot up and recommends keeping it on all day.
  • The Chrome folks even suggest that you leave it plugged in all day because, they say, it’s better for battery health.
  • If you’re an unplugged kinda person you’ll enjoy the 12+ hour battery time. I sure do because I love being able to change position, as in stand, walk around, wrestle with my dog, whatever instead of sitting all day while I write.
  • Opening new tabs, saving things, et al is as superfast as the boot time because Chrome O.S. uses so little memory.
  • No noticeable lag between hitting the keys and the words appearing on the screen.
  • So far I’ve found a Chrome app(or Android because, yes, Chromebooks can now use Android apps) that does everything my Windows programs do, including extending the clipboard and creating keyboard shortcuts for often-used words, phrases, even pages of text.
  • I’ve even been using an excellent TV and screenwriting app that’s both free and compatible with Final Draft. It’s called WriterDuet and you can find it HERE. I found out about it in an excellently thought-out and written review that’s available HERE. And, yes, the name of the writer of that review is Rachel Lynn Brody, and, yes, again, I have a daughter who is a writer, another who is named Jennifer Lynn, and another named Amber Rachel, but Rachel Lynn Brody is no relation whatsoever. So you can, you know, trust her. I sure did.
  • Are you a solitaire player? (Don’t worry. I don’t expect you to ‘fess up. No one ever does.) My favorite solitaire game for Windows is called Pretty Good Solitaire. On the Chromebook I play a very small footprint online solitaire game called Net Solitaire that falls short of it by barely a smidge.
  • Total fucking security, gang. Everything on the Chromebook is encrypted, and you can’t log into your account without a password. Well, guests can, but they can access only the basic functions – there’s really just one basic function, i.e., the browser – and can’t see anything from the main user’s account nor leave any traces of what they’ve done when they shut down.
  • You can also create as many visiting user profiles as you have hard drive space for. Those settings remain after each use, but each profile can only be accessed by the profile owner.
  • Speaking of security, Private Internet Access, my favorite PVN (that’s private virtual network) has an easy to install Chrome extension that connects quickly and works smoothly and keeps you pretty safe while you do whatever it you do that you need that much privacy for. (Like breathe, right?)
  • No nagging. No distracting notifications of any kind from the o.s.!
  • My particular Chromebook has excellent bluetooth.
  • It also has full 1920 by 1080 HD resolution, a touchscreen, and folds so that it can be set up like a tablet on your stomach.
  • Linux geeks can install Linux on most Chromebooks. (Mack cultists can’t.)
  • No viruses or malware.
  • 64GB SSD hard drive.

CONS:

  • Even though boot time is almost instantaneous, it can take a couple of minutes for wifi to connect properly. (Keeping it on most of the time, plugged in or not, does solve that problem.)
  • The wifi connection does tend to vanish when you you wake up your Chromebook after you’ve put it in sleep mode…even if wifi is set to stay on during sleep.
  • The touchpad substitutes various two finger movements for right clicks. I’m still trying to master all the moves.
  • My Chromebook has only one USB connector, so if I want to use a remote keyboard and an actual mouse at the same time (which I want to do because I’m uncomfortable using the chiclet style keyboards on this and so many other laptops these days and I prefer a backlighted keyboard which my Chromebook doesn’t have) you need to either use a multiple USB hub or bluetooth.
  • Hard drives are usually 16GB, 32GB, or occasionally 64GB. That means that after awhile, if you use this all the time, end up with files that have to be stored in the cloud or on an exterior drive with the accompanying built-in security risk. There’s a built-in launcher for saving things in the right place, but it took awhile for me to master it.
  • Getting full HD on my particular model Chromebook was a waste. On a 13″ screen LB’s tired ole eyes can’t read anything or see image details unless I use the touchscreen to enlarge everything as I surf, so I’ve ended up keeping my machine resolution at 1200 by 675 and having to scroll, baby, scroll too much of the time.

BOTTOM LINE:

My Chromebook is a beautiful, polished aluminum Acer Chromebook R 13. It cost $450 plus the price of both a USB hub and a bluetooth mouse. That’s about a third of what a good Windows laptop can cost and expensive for a Chromebook. I’ve seen highly rated ones for less than half what I paid. But I love the speed, the touchscreen, the feeling of privacy, the way the picture looks when I connect to a TV, the chance to try a new script program, and the fact that it’s lighter than my dog Emmy’s puppies at the moment each one of them (eleven, for God’s sake!) were born.


ANOTHER NOTE FROM LB: New toys always make writing more fun, and I need that fun. Hmm, just realized I haven’t tried writing poetry on the Chromebook yet. Could be fun. So, screenplay? Poetry? Let’s see…

LYMI, LB