I had been quite keen on the Chromebooks & Chromeboxes for the last few months, but when it came down to the decision point, I actually bought a Dell Windows-based laptop for an old laptop replacement. No, the advantages of the Chromebook didn’t change. I still believe that you can do everything on the internet. So what caused me to ditch the Chromebooks?
Three Reasons why I ditch the Chromebook for a Windows Laptop
Different Target Audience
Chromebooks are low-cost portable PCs – The Acer C720 was the most valuable of the lot of Chromebooks and available for direct shipping from Amazon to Singapore at US$199. The hardware specifications were great for me, 2955U, 2GB and 16GB SSD were sufficient for the intended usage. I used one when I was in the US and I was impressed.
However, I needed the new computer as a replacement for my dad. Portability was not on the must-have list, readability and user friendliness ranked higher. It would be better with a larger screen. The 11.6″ screen of the C720 was too small for my liking. It is great as an ultra portable but not one to type on and look at the whole day. The next in line was the Toshiba CB-35 but that was a tad more expensive at US$269. I was seriously considering that model though.
The Chromeboxes were more up my alley – with the ability to connect a standalone display in a permanent home environment. However, they are limited to shipping in US. Sending via concierge is one option but more troublesome and have to factor in the additional shipping charges. In addition, I needed to get a new monitor, keyboard, mouse etc as I am replacing a current laptop setup at home.
So while dilly-dallying and considering between the Chromebox / Chromebooks, the Dell I1909 Inspiron 15R option appeared on Amazon one day. Perhaps it was their recommendation engine at work, knowing I was searching for laptops. The Dell used the same CPU as the Chromebook (Haswell Celeron 2955U) which is adequate for basic needs. It also came with 4GB and a 320GB hard disk. I would have much preferred a SSD but the 320GB hard disk would do for now. In addition, it came with a full-sized keyboard and a 15.6″ screen. It was a decent priced Windows machine at US$299 (if I compare it to the Toshiba CB-35) and available for shipping to Singapore. This comes with more ram and a Windows 8 (upgradable to 8.1) license.
Good Value from the Dell Inspirion
Dell Inspirion 15.6-Inch Laptop (i15RV-1909BLK) (Buy from Amazon – ships to Singapore)
- Processor: 4th Generation Intel Celeron processor 2955U (2M Cache, 1.40GHz)
- Display: 15.6 inch LED Backlit with Truelife HD resolution (1366 x 768)
- Memory (RAM): 4GB Single Channel DDR3 1600MHz (4GBx1)
- Storage (hard drive): 320GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache
I wanted the Chromebook because it was cheap. But the Dell Inspirion wasn’t that bad a deal too. You may probably find better special refurbished deals on SlickDeals but that always has the hassle of shipment. I prefer dealing with Amazon for their top notch customer service. Free shipping too – if the option do not turn up, chat with the CSO – the size and dimensions should qualify it for free shipping to Singapore (FSSG).
Under the hood, Dell Inspiron i15RV-1909BLK laptop comes with a 1.4GHZ Intel Celeron 2955U dual core processor and integrated with 4GB of 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM. Yeah, this is not the most powerful Dell laptop, but still can handle daily tasks, such as internet browsing, streaming video and daily office tasks without any delays. Playing videos etc all that worked pretty well too. It can handle 1080p streams. In addition, the extra 2GB RAM over the Chromebook comes in handy here. We are running Windows here, which is more of a resource hog.
There is also a 320GB of Serial ATA hard disk drive with speed of 5400 rpm. This is the real bummer. It is slow! I could feel the difference in loading apps compared to the previous Chromebox I tested. I am waiting for a cheap SSD to ship over from Amazon to replace it. This is one of the main disadvantage against the Chromebook – which has Solid State by Default. Windows is a large operating system, gobbling up 16 GB of space, and that’s before PC vendors start piling on the bloatware. Windows notebook makers must pick between larger (equal expensive) SSDs or cheaper hard disc drives. No surprise that they go for cost here.
The LED-Backlit Display produces maximum internal resolution at 1366 x 768 pixels. Viewing angles are average, but at the right angle, it is adequate in terms of brightness and color accuracy. If you want to watch the video in detailed resolution, the HDMI port gives user ability to watch video in 1080p HD resolution on bigger HDTV.
The dual stereo speakers was surprising adequate, as long one is not expecting deep bass, stunning audio experience, but it still can produces very clear and crisp sound for music and video, thanks to Waves Maxx Audio 4.0 technology.
The Dell Inspiron 15.6 inch laptop also comes with dual USB 2.0 and 3.0 port, 3.5mm audio jack for microphone and headphones connector, HDMI port, multimedia card reader slot, security lock slot, Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet LAN and Wireless 802.11b/g/n. It does not however have a VGA port so if you want to output to an older monitor, take note. There are quite a lot of poor reviews on Amazon due to the lack of an optical drive, but that’s not a problem for me. I have not used one in years.
Dell Support is top-notch. This particular model comes with 2 year US warranty – but not international. However, after registering the laptop with Dell (suggest to specify as a US address first), you can easily do a transfer to Singapore so that the warranty is recognised. All you need is the service code and you can submit via an online form for the Dell Transfer.
Familiarity of Windows
While I have been looking forward to Chrome, (quick boot, easy updates, easy troubleshooting, just reload the OS), my dad has been using Windows for a good number of years now and minimizing change could be a good thing. Also, while Chrome is perfect for web surfing etc, it doesn’t cut it if my dad wants to use a program such as XBMC or Plex. Also, you would need to rely on Google Drive instead of other cloud alternatives such as Dropbox or OneDrive. Google sweetens the deal by offering free 100GB cloud storage.
This is probably the least important point though. I think ChromeOS has a unique advantage of being cloud-based and simplicity with online synchronisation. Soon, the ability to run Android apps and maybe Chromecast – ability, would make the switch even easier.
So to sum it up, the Chromebook didn’t became my next computer purchase this time around, but it may not be that far off the horizon before I own one – and with the Chinese themselves starting to dabble in this space (a Rockchip RK3288 Chromebook), they could definitely push the boundaries of affordability further. If you are interested in a Chromebook, keep a look out for refurbished deals – I missed a HP Chromebook 14 deal for US$180 and that would have been a sweet deal, although shipping would add approximately another US$30. Recently Amazon dropped the price to US$249 – which is pretty sweet. I still prefer the Dell for the above reasons :)