Skip

Chromebook questions
November 27, 2012 12:20 PM   Subscribe

Would the Chromebook be right for me as a writing device? I'm looking to replace my old netbook I use for writing with something more swish and it looks to fit the bill, however I'm not a Google Docs user - how easy is it to transition to from using OpenOffice/Word? How well does the local storage/offline working option work? How easy is it to export Word files and how well does formatting carry over? Is there anything else i need to know?
posted by Artw to Technology (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
IMHO, Google docs is not a great substitute for Word. The worst part is that exporting to docx is hit or miss in that I have to fix some formatting when opening the file in Word.

The good part is that Google docs works on your netbook now and you can try it out and see if it will work for you.
posted by wongcorgi at 12:22 PM on November 27, 2012


I *love* my Chromebook. But! Printing is a PITA. It uses Google's Cloudprint Service, which requires that you either have another computer on somewhere (that you are logged into) that you can route the printing to or that you have a specific HP (I think) printer that supports it. It doesn't support other wifi based printers (grumble).
posted by chiefthe at 12:39 PM on November 27, 2012


My experience with Google Docs and Open Office or Word files is that it's perfectly fine if you want to read and write. If you want to do any involved formatting stuff, document refinement, et cetera, you're in for a headache.
posted by entropone at 1:24 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a chromebook and a macbook pro. I am a grad student and I do all my writing in google docs. I like google docs because I can work on my papers everywhere on any machine. Google docs is a pretty stripped down word processing program. I am mostly writing research papers in APA format so I don't need anything fancy but if I needed footnotes and stuff, I might not like it so much. It is simple to export to word or a pdf. Yes, the formatting can get funky. But, that happens sometimes when I export word doc to pdfs.

I honestly haven't utilized the offline option yet. Or local storage. I tend to store everything in my google drive because I work on the same projects on multiple machines.

Printing is dumb from the Chromebook and Chrome in general. I typically print from a wired machine at work when I am ready to turn papers in.

In terms of other stuff: the chromebook feels like a piece of junk. It is so light weight that it feels flimsy. It is standing up well to backpacks and being shoved under the couch and it is only $250 so I am not saying that is a negative. It is just a thing. The screen layout is a little strange and I am finding that if I am planning to spend the day working on research, I am always going to use the macbook (15"). Overall, I am really happy with it but I bought it as a super portable second machine that I could write on and my boyfriend could surf the web on while I did homework on my mac. It really is a fine little machine for most internet activity that we typically do and I can work on my papers during office hours without having to lug the macbook with me everyday.

Google docs is not a substitute for word but it can be a fine tool if you are just writing text without a lot of formatting.
posted by rachums at 1:30 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This: My experience with Google Docs and Open Office or Word files is that it's perfectly fine if you want to read and write. If you want to do any involved formatting stuff, document refinement, et cetera, you're in for a headache.

And this: I have a chromebook and a macbook pro. I am a grad student and I do all my writing in google docs. I like google docs because I can work on my papers everywhere on any machine. Google docs is a pretty stripped down word processing program. I am mostly writing research papers in APA format so I don't need anything fancy but if I needed footnotes and stuff, I might not like it so much. It is simple to export to word or a pdf. Yes, the formatting can get funky. But, that happens sometimes when I export word doc to pdfs.

Basically say what I came here to say. I love, love, love Google Docs and I convert everyone I can at work, school, and home to Google Docs because they are easy to edit and very usable (stored online, all changes saved in seconds, accessible from every OS I can think of, I can DICTATE INTO MY PHONE TO WRITE PAPERS!). But their formatting abilities are very basic and some things can be wonky (copy/pasting from spreadsheets to docs can be tough). I write entire papers for grad school in Google Docs, but if I had to produce documents in anything besides greyscale + a couple screenshots I would have to go right back to Word. And the export functions are getting better (exporting to .doc and .odt often work better than .docx), but aren't ironclad.
posted by Tehhund at 2:51 PM on November 27, 2012


What happens when you aren't somewhere with an internet connection, like in a cabin or something? Google Docs is basically WordPad and I think it would be painful writing a comic book script in it.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 7:47 PM on November 27, 2012


I love Google docs and I use it all the time. It's amazing and it lives wherever I need it. I write many documents, but they are all simple and short. If I have complicated problems I have other heavy duty resources.

The keyboard on the $250 chromebook is far better than most netbooks. I love it.

It feels flimsy, it has held out well so far.

Battery has gone for a long time on actual usage, but it seems to drain relatively heavily while closed up.

The ability for others to instantly get going on the computer without having access to your account is amazing.

The UI is really nice. Lack of UI might be a better term, brilliant.

Coming from a mac you will hate the trackpad at first. The two finger scroll swipe is the opposite direction. The whole trackpad is really nice, but lacking compared to a mac. I really hate windows laptops now(for various reasons). The trackpad on them is the biggest one.

The computer is overall a little sluggish. And it's practically brand new. Hopefully it will not get worse.

On reread: You don't have a mac. Be prepared for an awesome trackpad. Look up the various gestures.

Conclusion: The chromebook is far better than most any netbook. For a single screen, lightweight form, light power, and awesome price, cant be beat.
posted by Folk at 7:47 PM on November 27, 2012


Two things.

First, if your end goal is to publish your writing with a publisher, be aware that Google Docs may not be an adequate tool with which to do edits--many publishers now send marked-up Word files, and Gdocs doesn't always handle the markup well, nor does it give you the ability to track changes. (Yes, I know about the revision history feature; no, it's not the same--at least in my tests, we couldn't get those changes to show up in Word. Maybe there's a trick I'm missing, but I was doing it in my spare time, with a friend--an editor doing this fisn't going to be as patient.)

Second, I know from sad experience that Gdocs is great until you hit about 30k, at which point it starts to lag, really, really badly. Tested that one on multiple computers, so I assume it's a Google issue, not a hardware-on-my-end one. Easy to avoid if you're willing to break things into multiple docs, though.
posted by MeghanC at 5:56 AM on November 28, 2012


After trying a few things in Goigle Diocs, and assuming its the same on the device as the browser I'm pretty happy that I can live with the formatting and outputting in RTF, which only leaves the working offline question: dies anyone have any experience with how well it works?
posted by Artw at 4:04 PM on November 30, 2012


As of two weeks ago, editing was fine, but I couldent create any new documents. I may not have been able to open any documents that were not already open either. Some of the more complex features may have been disabled.
posted by Folk at 12:54 PM on December 4, 2012


« Older Help me find a new kitten. Di...   |  I did really well on the GRE. ... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.


Post