I wanted to buy a tablet with the following characteristics:
- around 10″ display
- 4 Gb+ of ram
- preferably dockable, or connect a bluetooth keyboard to it
- Android OS or whatever I can (replace with)/(run on top of it) a Linux distribution
- HDMI port (for presentations)
- USB port (for a mouse, clicker and possibly other accessories)
- 4h+ autonomy on battery
My main motivations were mobility and flexibility with a descent computation power. I needed a computer for web browsing, ssh connections, casual development activities, presentations and videoconferences.
The best option I found at my local provider was the Lenovo Tab Yoga Book YB1-X90F for $620 at the moment of writing. Pros: The stilet looks promising, and if it works well, it may replace my notebook and pen, tow less things to carry. Cons: Touch keyboard, I am really fun of mechanical keyboards.
I also went to check the laptops category, maybe I could find a small enough laptop that fits my needs, I was willing to accept up to 13″ display if I find a good device. I came across the HP Chromebook 11 G4 11.6″ display, 4Gb of ram, 32Gb of SSD and descent dual core CPU at 2.16GHz. The price was $300. The device looked pretty promising, also less than half the price of the tablet option. Looked interesting, I had only heard about the ChromeOs and chromebooks at that tome, so I did some more googling about them. Once I found out that I can easily install a Linux on it, I ordered the thing. This laptop was cheaper than my low budget phone!
Last night my order arrived, I unpacked it and put it to charge. On first sight it looked damn awesome and very light. In the meanwhile I had some reading about the ChromeOs. Today, at 10AM, I opened my new Chromebook. First thing I noticed, it booted in less than 5 seconds, wake up time was about one second. After signing up with my google account, some updates and stuff, I started looking around. The thing is blazing fast, I love this. The touchpad and the keyboard seemed a bit awkward, there is no easy right click or scrolling, everything need some special Chromebookish way of handling the touchpad. It is really annoying that some keys are missing, the ones I miss the most are home end and del. The only way is some weird key combinations. I understand the motivation behind a web oriented device but I still need to do some programming and scripting even when I am mobile. I checked the battery indicator and is showed 99%, 10h 21min remaining. I got really skeptical when I saw the 10h of autonomy but I left my judgment for later. The first thing I wanted to check was a terminal. To get a shell, you need to activate the developer mode, which was the first thing I did after I signed in.
$ uname -a Linux chrome 3.10.18 #1 SMP Fri Jan 6 23:49:50 PST 2017 x86_64 Intel(R) Celeron(R) CPU N2840 @ 2.16GHz GenuineIntel GNU/Linux I would have preferred a 4.x kernel, but for a device manufactured in 2014, this was a good deal. I kept the device on almost all the day, I watched HD videos on youtube for 4 hours. After playing around with ChromeOs for a while, I installed crouton and booted an ubuntu OS. I felt almost home, I still missed some important keys from the keyboard, but I managed to install my IDEs and tools, mounted my remote servers and have a fully working environment. I even started getting used with the touchpad gestures and I realized that scrolling and right clicking in particular are more practical than on a regular touchpad (scroll area and right button).
I am actually writing this post on my new Chromebook right now, it’s almost midnight, and the battery shows 1h30min of remaining time. I find this really impressing. I was almost continuously using it since 14 hours by now.
So far I am very happy with this toy. If I find something interesting in the future, I will come back to write about it.