Posts tagged “Chromebook

Made By Google 2018

On Tuesday October 9, 2018, Google showcased a variety of updated services and hardware offerings to the delight of many Google fans.  We knew all about the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, in all of it’s “notchy” embarrassment, thanks to a variety of leaks, although Google teased as if we didn’t.  Overall, the keynote was lacking due to the leaks and due to several technical miscues throughout.

In the keynote we learned more about Google’s future for home, portable computing and services all through it’s products.  A future that is interesting, fun and oftentimes confusing, but with Google at the helm, it won’t be boring.

Let’s begin.


Google Home Hub

Every smarthome needs a centerpiece and Google Home Hub plans to be just that.  Over the course of the keynote, this proved to be one of the most well-thought out, polished pieces of the day.  From showing you recipe tutorials on YouTube, to weather and driving conditions and photos from your most recent trip — this device is designed in such a way that brings it all together and is excellent if you already have a variety of smart devices.  In addition to the Home Hub, the Google Home app received a significant update that mirrors what HomeView on the Hub screen, putting all of your connected devices first.  This is the way that it should be and the way that it should’ve been.

IMG_2918

Updated Google Home app, iOS.

The Google Home Hub is meant to be that home device that blends in with the rest of your home and buy offering different color options like Google Home, Home Mini and Max devices, it accomplishes that easily.  Interacting with Google Assistant on any of the Google Home devices is very simple and straightforward although during the keynote, that was muddied my interactions that had bad timing because they were prerecorded.

Featuring a 7″ display, the Home Hub is perfect for an office or a kitchen device; however, it can also go safely into a bedroom since there is no camera on the device — unlike the Amazon Echo Show.  This large and bright display is how you will interact with Hub and discover new things it can do.  Coming in at $149 and available on October 22nd, this little guy is bound to shake things up.

Source: YouTube, The Verge.


Pixel Slate

Is it a tablet?  Is it a computer?

The introduction of Pixel Slate started on a high note, with a stone thrown at it’s competitors Apple and Microsoft with the statement, “..something that isn’t a laptop trying to be a tablet…or a tablet, that’s really a phone, pretending to be a computer“.

It’s Pixel Slate and it’s neither.  Yet, it is a combination of both depending on how you utilize it.  A tablet is nothing more than a different type of a personal computer, just like your smartphone, laptop or gaming PC.

Pixel Slate is an interesting device.  Starting at $599 you get a tablet-esque device featuring a re-imagined “molecular” 12.3″ display featuring 293 PPI, Intel inside starting at the Celeron and fully equipped with an i7.

PixelSlateLineup

This device is the spiritual successor to Google’s Pixelbook and ultimately Google’s long game in the space and puts itself in a direct fight between Apple’s iPad and Microsoft’s Surface.  Chromebooks are ubiquitous in the classroom and with those who are entrenched in Google’s ecosystem for all of the right reasons.  Most computing today is done through the browser, whether you utilize Google Chrome, Edge, Firefox or something else — you’re still in browser.  One of the reasons why Chrome, Firefox and others have such a large userbase is due to the many add ons and “apps” that can be accessed through the window of a browser.

Nowadays, Google has been pumping Chrome OS to be much more than just a browser, to having Android app support and support for some Linux applications, the gap between a Chrome OS device and traditional desktop operating system is blurring more and more and the Pixel Slate seems to be a solid device the enter that “gap” with.  Pairing this device with the optional Pixel Slate Keyboard transforms this from tablet to that traditional laptop feel; however, Google did something different with it’s keyboard, allowing the user to have many different positions to the screen unlike the iPad Pro keyboard, mimicking a majority of the angles that a Microsoft Surface can reach.

Source: YouTube, The Verge

This is the future of mobile computing through Google’s Chrome OS and with this operating system becoming more open to other platforms, this increased interoperability is making it a more viable solution as most are simply in the business of content consumption rather than creation.


Pixel 3

It was noted that Pixel 3 was “built with exceptionally beautiful and design choices”, which is the biggest fable of the entire keynote.  While the Pixel 3 may be of good design, no person will agree with anyone on that stage that the Pixel 3 XL is a beautiful device.  This is absolutely one of the most tasteless and awful design decisions in all of smartphones with the largest and most obtrusive notch on any device.

Don’t believe me?  See for yourself.  It’s laughably bad and as I noted on #150 of the In the Weeds podcast, it looks like hot garbage.

Pixel3XLNotch

Pixel 3 XL close-up of the the display notch.

Aside from the addition of a notch, that no one asked for, there are several small additions to the Pixel 3 that push it slightly over it’s older sibling Pixel 2.

The design of the device was completely re-engineered by giving it an all glass back with custom milling to make the lower portion soft-touch, making it almost indistinguishable from the Pixel 2 and an additional second camera on the front, which extends the camera angle 184 degrees.  Camera upgrades don’t stop on the front as Google builds in a new feature called Top Shot, which utilizes frames before and after the shutter is pressed giving the user the opportunity to select the “top” frame as the still image.

Additionally, Google takes advantage of the best digital assistant in the business with it’s new Screen Call feature, which allows you to interact with a potential spam caller utilizing Google Assistant so that you don’t have to in an interactive exchange and potentially even mark the call as spam.  Lastly, with your shiny new Pixel 3 in hand, you need a charging stand to take advantage of the newly added wireless charging.  Meet Pixel Stand, which charges your device wirelessly, but also gives you an overview of your home, recent photos and more.  While this stand may not charge multiple devices at once — it is actually going to ship unlike Apple’s Air Power.  Pixel 3 starts at $799, with its large sibling at $899, up from last year and available on October 19th.

Source: YouTube, Made by Google

Here, the device you like the most comes to personal preference.  The notch is such a horrible design trend that doesn’t give the consumer any additional benefit, but allows the OEM the ability to tout “edge to edge” display while developers cannot utilize all of the space thanks to rounded corners and other elements of the display that need to be shown — this space that can be used is typically called a “safe area”, coined initially by Apple, read more here.


Overall

Google’s devices aren’t usually meant to be big mainstream hits, Google Home and Assistant are the exceptions, while Pixel devices are usually for the enthusiast with the aim of pushing either a platform, software solution or ideal forward.  The Made by Google event of 2018 was hit and miss, as presenters seemed spaced out and presentations early on were marred by off cue interactions.  With all of that aside, the future looks bright, we just have to hope that Google, who frequently changes it’s mind in the direction department, actually stays true to the course and continues pushing the ideals they’ve displayed ahead.

Apple March 2018 Education Event Breakdown

On March 27, 2018, Apple let the world know that it aims to take on education.  There are numerous reasons as to why getting into education is a good thing when you’re a large technology conglomerate:

  • Device infiltration from an early age, thus creating Apple users for life
  • Competing in a new area

For some time, Google has been dominating the classrooms with the help of their Chromebook line.  These inexpensive, easy to configure and deploy laptops running only the Chrome browser (Chrome OS) are a mainstay in American schools because they are so affordable and Google services are free (we always pay — even for free services, more on that later).  While Apple has always wanted to be in the space, the company has yet to show how fully committed they are to providing tools that schools and administrators find useful or affordable.


Overview

The highlight of this event is an all new 9.7″ iPad, coming in a just a little over one pound, that supports Apple Pencil, which is a big deal and will likely cause increased adoption of this new iPad by those wanting to use Pencil.  The device starts out at $329 for consumers and $299 for students.  This updated tablet features an A10 Fusion SOC, which is the same as the iPhone 7 and should provide lasting performance for years to come.  In addition to the Apple Pencil, Apple partnered with Logitech to create the “Logitech Crayon”, which will be available for $49, which is half of the price of Apple Pencil at $99 ($89 for students).  Logitech also created a rugged case, featuring a keyboard for $99.  This lower cost iPad does not feature the set of pogo pins, which would allow the attachment of Apple’s keyboard cover used on iPad Pro models.

Child-drawing-on-new-2018-iPad-with-Apple-Pencil

In addition to the smaller hardware announcements came big changes on the software front in iWork featuring updates to Pages, Numbers and KeyNote — all featuring Apple Pencil support.  One feature to note is “Smart annotation” to bring markup to Pages, which has been available for some time in other competing apps such as Google Docs.  Teachers will now have the ability to create digital books in Pages, which could be shared with students.  A feature that we’ve long asked for, Shared iPad, will be available for students featuring an interface where the student taps their picture and they are thrust into an experience designed for them because it will have all of their apps and settings available, regardless of device.  All of the Apple IDs created for students will be done through Apple School Manager, which can create 1500 IDs in under one minute.  Remarkable.  In the future students will be able to get handouts and more from their teachers in the Schoolwork app and be further managed in the Classroom app for Mac, which will debut in June and all work done within these apps will not be accessible by Apple.


Issues

Apple has done a great job playing catch up; however, there are still lingering problems that I see in this approach.  While the 9.7″ iPad will only cost a school $299, there are Chromebooks that cost $150 — while Apple will never say outright that they are competing against Google, the truth is they are.  In addition to the fact that in order to gain a full experience you need a pencil and under certain circumstances, certainly as the children get older and the type of work changes, you need keyboard support.  See a sample cost breakdown:

  • Apple iPad 9.7″ $299, Logitech Crayon $49, Logitech Rugged Case $99, bringing the total to $450
  • Any budget Chromebook $150-200, consumer purchase, note that a school will pay less

So for the experience that Apple is displaying, it will cost over 50% more (in fact, Apple Pencil itself can cost up to 66% the price of a Chromebook) when the end goal is the same, putting technology in the classroom to shape our future generation.

chromebook-or-ipad-for-classroom-debate


Wrap-up

Apple has made headway into education now by fully marketing towards educators; however, I feel like they’ve still missed the mark because the deployment of one iPad alone without any other accessories still costs almost double the price of one Chromebook.  It would’ve been nice to see them hit a $200 or $250 pricepoint here and with services that never seem to fully pan out — I struggle to see this changing Google’s lock on education any time soon. The hard truth is that if Apple wanted to create a true low cost competitor in this market for schools, they could — but as this announcement has shown us, they simply have not.

Additionally, many fans wanted to see a new iPhone SE or MacBook Air — this was an education event, for those of you who wanted those devices they may or may not come at a later time.

Chromebooks are they worth it?

Google’s Chrome OS; it certainly is a unique thing isn’t it  or is it?

Chrome OS, which is available on different Chromebooks and Chromeboxes are essentially a browser based operating system that enables the user to live in the cloud and function in an integrated manner with all of Google’s services and applications.

Why would I ditch Windows or OS X in favor of a browser based operating system?

Simple, Chrome OS is designed to work exactly how you want it to.  For some of those who simply use the internet to check email and browse social networks there is absolutely no better solution than having a Chrome OS device, especially if you would love to have a physical keyboard — something that tablets lack.  In addition, if you are a power user that is in the market for a second device that can be functional, lightweight and ultra-portable, then this device could be for you as well.  There are numerous Chrome OS devices on the market, highlighting that is the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook that happens to be the number one selling laptop on Amazon:

Samsung_Chromebook_front_webresThis device has a very affordable price-point of $249 and is available at a number of retailers online, Best Buy or Staples.

Chrome OS comes complete with all of the features of Chrome that you love on a functional laptop machine.  You want apps?  Get thousands from the Chrome Web Store.  You want a fast boot time?  Open the lid.

Chromebook informational commerical:

Bottom line: Chrome OS on a Chromebook is a wonder to dive into and fully enjoy.  Remember that there is a Chrome OS device or Chromebook for everyone and all are great functioning devices.  I whole-heartedly recommend this great device, truly a traditional laptop replacement.