While I am quite bored with most new tech announcements (especially smartphones), I realize that I still care most about small affordable laptops or convertibles. Tablets are great, I enjoy Apples iPad Air, but it has its limits, and so do Android tablets – limits in productivity. Of course it is entirely possible to do blogging or almost every other task that doesn’t require special business software on a tablet – but it just isn’t a great experience. Well, most likely it is just unwillingness to adjust – when you can choose between using an application that you know since almost forever, or a new app, that maybe is – at least for the advanced stuff – a little complicated and does not grow on you within minutes, then you might find yourself wanting the experience that you are used to. At least that’s the case with me.
As the headline says I am still using my Samsung ARM Chromebook with 3G. It is my main laptop now, which seems strange, given the fact that an iPad Air or the LG G2 most likely deliver better (benchmark) performance than this laptop. And then there is this OS – Chrome OS. Well, nah – I mostly boot into Arch Linux ARM running from a 32 GB SDHC card. I made it so that it is almost just as user friendly1 and has a broad set of applications I am used to2. While it is definitely not the fastest computer under the sun, it performs decent enough – the keyboard, the touchpad, the screen, the overall performance – nothing is really top notch, but it is more than good enough for me. BTW: The killer feature is, still, the following: No fan = no (constant) noise.
While it is great to be able to take the SDHC card out of the Chromebook, boot it into Chrome OS, launch guest mode and hand it over to a random person in order to provide that person with a way to access the internet, it feels decidedly hacky. And I like to have the robustness of Chrome OS at hand, which BTW evolved notably since mid 2013. But then the real question is: Would I purchase another (next gen) ARM Chromebook, like one of the announced and soon shipping “SAMSUNG Chromebook 2” with 8-core Exynos?
The answer is: It is unlikely. While – as mentioned above – most things work, getting an ARM-powered laptop set up to work a 100% fine with GNU/Linux seems almost impossible today. Rather essential stuff like standby is hit and miss, from time to time my Chromebook doesn’t wake up properly. Accelerated graphics (I am not talking about gaming, but much rather of video playback) or using a newer kernel: Painful to impossible. And as fanless Bay Trail netbooks/subnotebooks become available out there, that – depending how well the UEFI plays with Linux – are supposedly almost painless in that regard I would rather go for one of these if I had to upgrade.
But fortunately I don’t have to. And so I am sticking to my XE303C12H01DE.
(More on laptops soon.)
thanks to using XFCE with NetworkManager and Modem Manager [↩]
Starting from Firefox, including LibreOffice, Gimp, Inkscape and even great stuff like LyX for LaTeX. [↩]
I like my Chromebook, but if I feel like doing something that feels a little like actual work, I prefer to have a flavour of GNU/Linux. Therefore I installed a local chroot using Crouton – which brings me into a world of LXDE, Libreoffice and Firefox.
All of this works pretty well, but sometimes I feel like printing a document in order to do actual proof reading1. This always worked as I have a modern Epson AiO solution that is supported by Google Cloud Print, but I had to change back and forth: Make a pdf, go to Chrome OS, open the PDF, print it. That is not too bad, but it isn’t to convenient. So I tried to install the printer on Linux. Continue reading “Chromebook, Crouton (Ubuntu) and printing with the EPSON WF-3540”
Call me old-fashioned, but I am better at that on paper than on the screen. [↩]
Marc Shuttleworth, der Mann hinter Ubuntu, hat ein neues Projekt vorgestellt: Ein eigenes Ubuntu-Smartphone. Und zwar High End, mit Crowdfunding.
Die ganze Sache ist zwar sehr interessant, aber auch echt teuer – ich kann nicht mal eben US$ 830,00 in den Topf werfen um dafür im Mai 2014 ein neues Smartphone zu erhalten. Den Konvergenzgedanken schätze ich aber dennoch. Für Motorolas Lapdock-Ansatz mag es noch etwas zu früh gewesen sein1 – aber das ARM Chromebook reicht (auch mit einer leichten Variante von Ubuntu (ich nutze LXDE als Benutzeroberfläche) für Alltagstasks überall hin. Da das Ubuntu Edge mit 4GB definitiv ausreichend Arbeitspeicher haben wird, und zudem mit dem besten Chip ausgestattet werden soll, der bei der Fertigstellung des Designs verfügbar ist, kann man davon ausgehen, dass die 830$ tatsächlich mehr als nur ein Smartphone kaufen. Wenn es denn dazu kommt: 32 Millionen Dollar per Crowdfunding zu erzielen ist nämlich noch niemandem gelunden. Aber es sieht gut aus.
The evening before my final exams1 I bought a Samsung Chromebook, to be precise the 303C12 A012. It was one of these eBay bids which you do when you are nervous and try to get your mind of things – 210€ for a Chromebook, which retails for 299€ in Germany3 is what I consider quite a deal. But that’s not so important.
What do I think of the device? It is a great little laptop. Keyboard, Display and Touchpad seem better to me than the ones of my Lenovo Thinkpad Edge E320, which wasn’t exactly super expensive either, but still, this is impressive. Then there is the software, which is beautiful, but not too feature rich. Chromebook still lacks a few apps for me, but it is pretty much ok, and I knew before that it would be difficult to do the switch. And then, there is always the option to Crouton and have “a real OS” like Ubuntu.
What is disappointing though is the following:
that Google Docs isn’t enabling offline mode per default on your Chromebook
that offline GMail is strangely broken on my unstable dev-version of ChromeOS ;)
that I couldn’t find a way yet to get a decent frontend for Feedly (I strongly dislike their website), which is for now my feed reader of choice (and which is great via Reeder on my iPad)4
that I couldn’t figure out yet how to use Evernote offline
that I couldn’t figure out yet how to use WordPress offline
Maybe I will upgrade to the 3G version, but even with Germanys 2nd best mobile network, Vodafone, you face some offline time here and there. So many of the problems described may remain.
Still, it’s a good first impression with plenty more to figure out and even more to try out.
There is not much to write about this years Computex, as almost every news has spread a thousand times throughout the web. This is thus more a personal note: Intel have finally managed to win quite a few smartphone and tablet designs, and at the same time they have managed to really lower the consumption of their performance platform with “Haswell”. Finally, thin, light, powerful and long lasting mobile computing solutions are possible. Thumbs up!
Jolla, that group of ex-Nokia employees working on an ex-Nokia smartphone OS (MeeGo, which is now “Mer” – and on the foundations of Mer Jolla built their “Sailfish OS”), have finally announced their first piece of hardware1, which will ship “at the end of this year”.2 It’s nothing too funky, hardware wise, but Jolla is about software, anyway.
Sometimes you happen to stumble on products you have been waiting for. Today, this happened to me once again. In fact, if I hadn’t been so busy lately because of an exam (which went well, as far as I can tell), I might just have written a post asking why there are no E-Ink tablets or at least eReaders with a dual core chip and Android. Why? Well, eInk is great,1 and my Nook Simple Touch is not only an eReader to me, it also serves as a simple Android tablet from time to time, as it is light and super portable (in comparison to iPad) and has a pretty decent battery life. But the Nook Simple Touch is still on “Eclair” or Android 2.1 (which runs nicely with the 600MHz ARMv7 and 256MB, but it’s getting really old). And until I read this post at “The Digital Reader” the only hope for a slightly better eInk-Tablet was the Tolino Shine, which ships with Android 2.3 and a higher-res eInk screen.
Now, as I write this, there is hope for such a product which can be significantly faster. But head over to “The Digital Reader” and read the facts yourselves.
The world, back in late march, knew 3-4 popular browser engines: WebKit, the engine that once was created by Apple (based on KDEs1 KHTML&KJS) and picked up by Google for their own Chrome browser2, Mozillas’ Gecko3, and Microsofts engine for (mobile) IE104. The fourth one, for the curious ones, would be Opera Softwares ‘Presto’, which Opera is replacing by WebKit in order to achieve better rendering, especially of mobile Webpages, where Apples mobile Safari alone has a huge market share.
Now, as of April 6th, there are 2 more entries to the list. Continue reading “Servo & Blink”