Saturday, August 31, 2013

Back-To-School 2013: Tablet Buying Guide

by Justin Dennis
Tablets are an important tool for students; they can be used for carrying your eTextbooks, taking notes during lectures, or doing online research. They are so light that you would hardly even notice one in your backpack. Heck, you can even get a decent education just fromAndroid apps.
Whether you’re looking for a cheap 7-inch tablet or a full-featured 10-inch tablet, this guide can help you out. For those unsure about which size tablet to get, you’ll want to check out Matt’s article on how much screen size really matters — do you want a heavier, more expensive tablet with a large screen; or a lighter, less expensive one with a smaller screen? Every student is different. Some may need a stylus for sketching or taking notes while others might need a keyboard. The good news is that there are so many great tablets available right now that your hardest choice isn’t going to be finding one, but deciding on one.
Many tablets come with 4G options, but today we’ll just be looking at the cheaper WiFi-only models, since 4G coverage can be expensive and most universities have WiFi across their entire campus.
If you’re a newbie to the tablet world, don’t forget to check out ourTablet Buying Guide: Summer 2013 before you get started. Right now, we’ll be starting off with the most inexpensive tablet and working our way up the price ladder.

Lenovo IdeaTab A1000 $130

The most affordable option we’ll be discussing is Lenovo’s IdeaTab A1000. For $130, it’s not the most feature-packed tablet out there, but it is still a solid offering. It has a 7-inch, 1024×600 screen, a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of memory, front and rear cameras, and dual front-facing speakers. It’s also pretty thick at 0.42 inches (10.7 mm), but it does have a Micro SD card slot for expanded storage.
Lenovo-IdeaTab-A1000
For those of you on a tight budget, you might want to consider this tablet. Unlike other cheap, no-name tablets, this device can access the Google Play Store, giving you access to all the same apps other Android tablets have. Running Android 4.1, it doesn’t have the absolute newest software, but 4.2 and 4.3 have been incremental updates anyway, and 4.1 will run well on this device.
If $130 is all you can scrounge up, go for it; but if you can get another hundred dollars together, you may want to spring for our next option.

Google Nexus 7 (2013) $230

The Nexus 7 boasts the highest pixel density of any tablet, besting even the iPad with Retina Display, and reviewers have loved its pixel-packed screen. It’s thinner and lighter than last year’s model, and it packs a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and 2 GB of RAM for incredible performance. Its dual stereo speakers offer great sound quality for such a small tablet and, being a Nexus device, it will always have the latest version of Android. It weighs in at only 0.64 lbs (290 g) and reviewers have praised its admirable battery life.
Nexus 7
Plus, Google recently opened up a Textbooks section of Google Play, giving you instant access to cheap eTextbooks right on your tablet. Personally, electronic textbooks have changed the way I go to school. No more lugging around heavy books all day, you can easily search through your text for whatever you need, and highlighting and bookmarking features all work seamlessly. If you’re looking for a cheap, small, no fuss tablet, look no further than the Nexus 7.

Apple iPad Mini $330

For a hundred dollars more than the Nexus 7, you can get a shiny new iPad Mini, which we reviewed a few months back. The iPad with Retina Display nearly made this list, but at $500 for the base model, the Mini is just much better value. By saving that extra $170, you sacrifice power (the Mini uses an A5 processor compared to the iPad with Retina Display’s A6X) and screen size. But you also get slimmer bezels, and a much lighter and thinner device. The Mini weighs in at only 0.68 lbs (309 g), so slightly heavier than the Nexus 7, but it also has an inch more screen space.
iPad-Mini
The Mini is a great choice if you love iOS, otherwise, the Nexus 7 is a stronger device for $100 less. But iOS remains the simplest OS to use, and if you’re tied into the iOS ecosystem from an iPhone or even an old iPad, the Mini is a superb option. Apple’s App Store has a plethora have apps designed for use on a tablet, and some would argue that Android is still trying to catch up in terms of quality tablet-optimized apps.
Battery life for the Mini is incredible. If you’re looking for something to carry around all day, this device won’t weigh you down and it will easily make it through the whole day. Plus, there are a lot of cases available,many with keyboards, so your accessory options are endless.
If you decide to go for the iPad Mini, be sure to download these 10 amazing iPad apps for school.

Microsoft Surface RT $350

We reviewed the Surface RT a few months back and it didn’t look too favorably on it, but that was back when it cost $500. After receiving a $150 price cut down to $350, I think this device is worth another look, especially for students. This gorgeous device has some of the best hardware out there. It has a unique 10.6? screen, slightly bigger than the average 10? device but smaller than 11.6? laptops. While most reviewers are disappointed by the lack of apps and the glitchy software, they generally love the hardware. Microsoft clearly put a lot of time into crafting this device and that effort shines through the sturdy VaporMG casing and kickstand. It’s also the only tablet with a full-size USB port for easily transferring files, and it has a great magnetic charger.
Surface1
The downside, at least as hardware goes, is that the Touch Cover will set you back another $120 unless you buy the bundled Surface RT and Black Touch Cover for $450. The Touch Cover, while thin and light, doesn’t provide any tactile feedback, so if you’re looking for a more solid keyboard, the Type Cover could be more up your alley, but it’ll set you back $130. Still, at $480 for a 32 GB Surface RT with Type Cover, the price still manages to stay below the $500 limit where most 10-inch tablets land without any kind of keyboard. Keep in mind, however, that you only get about 14 GB of free space out of that 32 GB Surface RT.
Surface2
Software-wise, you get Microsoft Office Home & Student bundled, which is a very welcome addition for students. Unfortunately, since the Surface RT runs Windows RT rather than full-blown Windows 8, you won’t be able to download any legacy Windows 7 apps like Chrome or iTunes. Here, you’re stuck with the Metro or “Modern UI” apps. While these look and behave a lot better on the tablet than any desktop app would, your choices from the Windows Store are incredibly limited. Most notably, Facebook has yet to release a Modern app, and Google refuses to make the Chrome browser available for RT devices.
In the end, though, if all you need is a thin, light device to carry from class to class and type some Word documents, the Surface RT is perfect. It won’t have the full range of apps available for Android or iOS devices, but it makes up for it with a relatively low price tag and innovative keyboard cover.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 $380

Here’s a tablet for those stylus-lovers. The Galaxy Note 8.0 is a relatively new device from Samsung that basically looks like a stretched out Galaxy S4. It’s thin, light, fast, and comes with a built-in stylus; so what’s not to love? Two things, really: the screen and the price. It’s 1280×800 screen is nice, but it’s nowhere near Nexus 7 status, and at $380, this thing charges a hefty price for the addition of a stylus.
Galaxy-Note-8
The killer feature for this tablet, I think, is Multi-Window. It allows the user to have two apps open side by side. Combined with the stylus, this could be incredibly useful. You could look up information using the Web browser or watch that documentary for class on the left while taking notes on the right. Not to mention that the stylus is great for taking notes if you have one those grumpy, stuck-in-the-past professors who won’t allow you to type on a keyboard or screen while in class.
Polaris Office also comes preloaded, which is great for working on Microsoft Office documents like Word, and it has an IR blaster if you’re lucky enough to have a TV in your dorm.
So multi-tasking, stylus-using students, this is the tablet for you.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z $500

Now I know what you’re thinking: the iPad with Retina Display should be the $500 tablet to buy. But while the iPad with Retina Display is a very capable device, so is the Xperia Z — and the Xperia Z is waterproof. This 10-inch tablet weighs only 1.09 lbs, considerably lighter than the iPad’s 1.44 lbs. The Xperia Z is also a good deal slimmer: 6.9 mm compared to 9.4 mm. Despite this, it has a 1920×1200 display that, while not as good as the iPad’s, is still amazing. It also runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, has 2G B of RAM, an infrared emitter for controlling your TV, an 8 megapixel camera, and runs Android 4.1. And if you order it from Sony’s website, you get an 8 GB micro SD card to for expanded storage.
Xperia-Z
On the downside, it does not have the best battery life among the tablets featured in this article. That’s disappointing, but I think the tablet makes it up for it with its waterproofness. Imagine being able to use your tablet in the rain, or even carry it in your backpack in the rain without worrying about getting it wet. If you spill something on it, you’re fine, and if it gets dirty you can just rinse it off with water. This is such a killer feature that I can only expect most other tablets to follow suit very soon.

Conclusion

Each of these tablets brings something unique to the table, and any of them would make life as a student much easier. As a college student myself, it’s amazing to have something thin and light that doesn’t weigh down my backpack and can be used to take notes in class and watch Netflix at night. It all depends on what you need, though. Below, I have summed up the main reasons why you would choose one of these devices.
  • IdeaTab A1000: Inexpensive, expandable storage.
  • Nexus 7: Fast processor, great display.
  • iPad Mini: Tied into Apple Ecosystem, great battery life.
  • Surface RT: Unique kickstand, runs Microsoft Office.
  • Galaxy Note 8.0: Included stylus, multi-window feature.
  • Xperia Tablet Z: Waterproof, thin and lightweight.
And if you really are headed back to school, I’m right there with you. I’ve also compiled a list of some other great back to school gear that you should check out.
So which of these devices will you be heading back to campus with? Or do you have a device that I didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments.

Source: www.makeuseof.com

Friday, August 30, 2013

All The Back To School Gear You’ll Need For Under $1000


by Justin Dennis
I know the summer might feel infinite, but the school year is approaching quickly whether you’re prepared or not. Don’t let it sneak up on you and then struggle at the last minute to get all your stuff together. Buying new stuff for school might seem like a daunting task, but you can actually get a good amount of awesome tech gear for under $1,000.
Today, I’ll go through a few categories you may be interested in and making a recommendation for each. We’ll look at laptops, tablets, e-readers, external hard drives, USB flash drives, headphones, and cameras. At the end, we’ll do a quick wrap-up and see how much all this great stuff will cost you. Ready? Let’s go.

Laptop

Let’s start off with the main computing machine for any student: the laptop. You’ve got a difficult choice to make here between a Chromebook and a traditional Windows laptop. Sorry Mac-users, no Apple laptop is going to make it into a budget list.
First up, let’s go through why you might want a Chromebook. They’re inexpensive, offer great performance for their price, don’t get viruses or slow down over time, and they’re updated automatically. The models we’re looking at are both small, light 11-inch devices.
Samsung Chromebook
The two Chromebooks being considered are Acer’s $200 C7 and Samsung’s $250 Chromebook since Google’s $1299 Pixel is a bit out of the question. We favorably reviewed the Samsung Chromebook a few months ago, and the Acer is very similar. In my limited hands-on experience with the two devices, I found them to be lightning fast compared to comparably priced netbooks like the Acer Aspire One.
Acer C7
The downside? Well, Chromebooks run Chrome OS which is basically just the Chrome browser. Could you live entirely in a browser? You might be surprised. Google Drive is a capable alternative to Microsoft Office for most people, and we all know that students rarely use their computers for anything besides Facebook and Word. However, if you need to run a particular kind of Windows software like iTunes, photoshop, or eBook editing programs like Calibre or Sigil, you’re out of luck here.
AsusVivoBook
For those of you who are not ready to make the leap from Windows to Chrome OS, the ASUS VivoBook is your best inexpensive option. It’s currently around $449 on Amazon. It’s an 11-inch Windows 8 laptop with a touchscreen, 4 GB of RAM, and an Intel Core i3 processor. For only $449, that’s a great deal. We reviewed it favorably, and in my opinion, it’s the best value laptop out there right now.
Recommendation: ASUS VivoBook X202E

Tablet

Here’s where you’ve got some amazing options. Unlike with laptops, where you have to compromise a bit to keep it under a tight budget, the 7-8 inch tablet category is bursting full of great tablets. These wonderful devices are small enough to fit in a backpack without weighing you down, and can even fit in some larger pockets. They’re perfect for taking notes, reading e-textbooks, or even just a bit of gaming between classes. With so many options, I’m going to try and find the best value for your dollar here.
First up is the new Nexus 7 (2013). At $229, this device packs an incredible amount of power. It has a 1920 x 1200 full HD display, with a higher pixel density than competing 7-inch tablets and even besting the 10-inch iPad with Retina Display. This updated model is even thinner and lighter than the previous generation, while shaving off some of the side bezels. It has dual speakers on the back which produce great audio quality for such a small tablet. Its battery life, while not the absolute best around, is still very good. Performance-wise, it packs a Snapdragon S4 Pro at 1.5 GHz and 2 GB of RAM, making this a blazing fast tablet.
Nexus 7
Up next is a device for those living in the Amazon ecosystem or on an exceptionally tight budget: the $199 7-inch Kindle Fire HD. While this tablet is based on Android, it looks nothing like Android. The user interface is a simple scrolling list of the apps, books, games, movies, etc. that are stored on the tablet, and downloads are restricted to the Amazon Appstore, not the Google Play Store. The tablet is quite a bit thicker and heavier than the Nexus 7.
Kindle Fire HD
However, if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, owning a Kindle Fire HD offers several advantages. Currently, Amazon Instant Video is available on the Fire HD and on iOS, but not other Android devices, and you can also borrow a book for free every month. If you have a lot vested in Amazon and like a clean, simple user interface, the Fire HD might be for you. You might also want to look at the Kindle Fire HD 8.9? tablet, which, at $269, is the cheapest large-sized tablet out there, even cheaper than the next two tablets in this category.
If you’re willing to cut out some other items on your budget list, you might be able to drop the $329 for an iPad Mini, otherwise known as the only Apple product to ever make it onto a budget tech list — barely. For a hundred dollars more than a Nexus 7, is it really worth it? If you’re already tied into the Apple ecosystem or have an iPhone, probably. But if you have no attachment to Apple, its likely not worth it. Despite being the most expensive tablet on this list, it features only a meager 1024 x 768 display, a now ancient dual-core A5 processor, and only 512MB of RAM. Read our review of the iPad Mini.
iPad Mini
Still, iOS remains a simple operating with a vast app selection, and the iPad Mini has the best battery life of any device on this list. Plus, it’s a thin, light device with hardly any side bezels. The 7.9-inch screen might make it a little awkward to hold in one hand, but it does give you a lot more screen estate than a 7-inch tablet. Depending on your needs and your wallet, the iPad Mini might be worth the hefty price.
Finally, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0. At $299, this tablet is on the expensive end of things, but still manages to be $30 cheaper than the iPad Mini. So why consider this over the other Android tablets we’ve already talked about? Well, if you already have a Galaxy phone, the experience will be very similar. You get the multi-window function, which allows you to run two apps side-by-side at the same time, you get an IR blaster for controlling your TV, and if you have any Samsung devices like a Smart TV or a Blu-ray player, the Galaxy Tab 3 will play nicely with them. Read our review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3.
Galaxy Tab 3 8.0
On the downside, its screen isn’t as nice as the Nexus 7. It has the same resolution as the Kindle Fire HD — 1280 x 800 pixels — but the Galaxy Tab 3 has a lower pixel density because of its larger screen size. It still has a nicer display than the iPad Mini, but a lot of people prefer the aluminium enclosure of the iPad Mini to the plastic case of the Galaxy Tab 3. It comes in white and “gold brown” which frankly just sounds as awful as it looks. It’s pretty thin and light and has 1.5 GB of RAM. If you’ve got a bunch of Samsung devices and like to run multiple apps at the same time, the Galaxy Tab 3 might be worth the price tag.
However, when it comes to value, the Nexus 7 simply gives you the most for your dollar. A gorgeous display, sleek body, and good battery life makes the Nexus 7 worth the $229.
Recommendation: Nexus 7 (2013)

E-readers

While all of the above tablets also make for great e-readers, they can’t compare to e-ink devices. E-ink devices use a special type of screen that emulates paper, making them much easier on your eyes than a bright LCD screen. They can be used easily in bright sunlight and, in my opinion, are even more comfortable to read than physical books. They’re incredibly light, putting less strain on your wrist, and their batteries last weeks if not months. Having a dedicated e-reader and a tablet might seem wasteful, but I promise you will love the e-ink screen.
First up, the reigning champion of the ebook world, Amazon’s Kindle. It comes in a $119 Paperwhite version and a $69 regular Kindle, both of which come with Special Offers. Special Offers is what Amazon calls the ads that pop up on the screen when its not in use. They don't interfere with the reading experience at all, since they disappear completely while reading, and I've never found them annoying. However, you can pay an extra $20 to get rid of them, and in that case, your Kindle will display random pictures of authors when the screen is not in use.
Paperwhite
The Kindle Paperwhite is really a remarkable device, as noted in our review. It's entirely touchscreen with only a physical power button. It's thin and light, making it a breeze to hold with one hand. It has a higher resolution display than the regular Kindle, but its main feature is the built-in light. It distributes a soft glow evenly across the surface so that you can read in the dark. It's a very pleasant effect, much easier to look at than a bright LCD screen and perfect for those who like to read in bed before going to sleep.
Kindle
Amazon also claims that the Paperwhite's battery will last longer than the regular Kindle's, 8 weeks as opposed to 4 weeks, but really, the battery life is so phenomenal on both these devices that I doubt you would notice. The regular Kindle is also an ounce lighter and a hair thinner than the Paperwhite.
Another great option is a Kobo e-reader. They have a slew of devices including the Kobo Aura HD (which we reviewed), Kobo MiniKobo Glo, and Kobo Touch. I love that they have such a wide range of devices, and they're really great too. The Kobo Mini is the lightest e-reader of the bund, the Touch has a very comfortable soft touch back, and the Kobo Glo is comparable to the Paperwhite.
Kobo eReader
All Kobo devices support ePub, which is the universal standard for ebooks, meaning that you can easily download any book from any store or library and it'll work on your Kobo. As for Amazon, they use their proprietary AZW, MOBI, and KF8 formats which won't work on other e-readers, and you can only get your ebooks from Amazon's store. However, Amazon does have a vast selection of ebooks and often has the lowest prices. For instance, Legend by Marie Lu is $9.99 on the Kobo eBookstore, but the Kindle version is $8.89 on Amazon. Not a huge difference, but I've seen bigger price drops than that from Amazon, and it can really add up if you read a lot.
There is also the Barnes and Noble Nook and Sony eReader, but they don't offer any significant advantages over the Kindle or Kobo. The Nook has been plagued by bad reviews since it came out, and the Sony devices are clunky and unattractive in my opinion. While it really comes down to preference here, I prefer the Kindle Paperwhite for its unbeatable selection of books and great hardware.
Recommendation: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Portable External Hard Drive

Unless you have a ton of large videos files or a computer with very little disk space (like a Chromebook), you probably won't need an external hard drive. But if you are constantly downloading videos or recording you own, having an extra 500 GB or more could be a lifesaver.
LaCie Rugged Mini
We've compared the LaCie Rugged Mini and the ADATA DashDrive Durable, and the LaCie Rugged Mini easily came out on top. It comes in $80 500 GB and $110 1TB models, and while it isn't waterproof, it can withstand a good amount of rain, drops, spills, and bangs. If you plan on keeping your external hard drive in your backpack and lugging it around campus a lot, this would be a good investment for you.
Seagate GoFlex Slim
On the other hand, if you just want a slim, light hard drive that you'll be extremely cautious with, the Seagate GoFlex Slim is a good choice. While it only comes in a 500 GB version, it's also only $60 fromAmazon, making it a great budget hard drive. Unfortunately, this hard drive won't be able to take the same beating as the LaCie.
Recommendation: LaCie Rugged Mini

Headphones

This one is going to be quick because, let's be honest, students on a budget can't afford $300+ high-tech in-ear monitors. The only real competitor here is Panasonic with their ErgoFit earbuds. They're only $6 on <Amazon and come in a wide variety of colors. They've garnered great reviews on Amazon, especially for their ridiculously cheap price.
Panasonic ErgoFit Green
Recommendation: Panasonic ErgoFit

USB Flash Drive

There are some awesome, fast, rugged USB drives out there, but considering you'll probably leave it plugged into one of your school's library computers on accident, you're better off getting something cheap and just replacing it when you lose it. You can get an 8 GB Kingston stick for under $7 on Amazon. Unless you plan on booting Linux from your USB drive or doing something incredibly taxing with it, even the cheap drives should be able to handle the occasional Word document transfer without fail.
Kingston USB drive

Camera

If you want better pictures than your phone or tablet can snap, but don't have the thousands of dollars to shell out for a DSLR, you might want to try out an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera. Read our article on 8 tips you should know before buying your next digital camera.
Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS
The more expensive option is the Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS at$175 on Amazon. It has a 12 megapixel sensor, can record 1080p video, has an f2.7 aperture and 24 mm lens. The cheaper option is the Canon PowerShot A2400 IS at $95 on Amazon. It can capture 16 megapixels images, can record 720p video, has an f2.8 aperture and 28 mm lens.
Canon PowerShot A2400 IS
They're both about the same size and weight, and can take decent photos, but the ELPH claims slightly longer battery life. We're looking at budget devices here, though, and the A2400 is plenty capable.
Recommendation: Canon PowerShot A2400 IS

Wrap-up

So how much will all of this awesome gear set you back if you took my recommendation from every category? Let's add it up.
Asus VivoBook X202E: $449
Nexus 7: $229
Kindle Paperwhite: $129
LaCie Rugged Mini Portable Hard Drive: $80
Panasonic ErgoFit Earbuds: $6
Kingston USB Drive: $7
Canon PowerShot A2400 IS: $95
Total: $995*
*prices accurate at the time of writing.
That's quite a lot of awesome back to school gear for under $1,000 if you ask me. You can definitely swap some stuff out depending on your needs. If your smartphone has a decent camera, you could ditch the PowerShot and switch out the Nexus 7 with an iPad Mini. If you don't need the external hard drive, you could get rid of that and get yourself a faster USB drive. Or to really save some money, trade in the VivoBook for a Chromebook. It's all up to you.
What do you think? What will you be buying before hitting the books this fall? Let us know in the comments.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Samsung Exec Confirms Galaxy Gear Smartwatch Aimed At Younger, Hip Buyers Coming Sept. 4 | TechCrunch

Samsung Exec Confirms Galaxy Gear Smartwatch Aimed At Younger, Hip Buyers Coming Sept. 4 | TechCrunch

Looking For A New Laptop? Get A Chromebook Instead!


by Chris Hoffman
Google’s Chromebooks are surprisingly good laptops. They’re cheap — only $249 for what’s probably the best one at the moment — lightweight, portable, and quick-to-boot. They may not be the ideal computer for a PC gamer or heavy-duty desktop software user, but they can be great portable web browsers to drag to class.
Chromebooks have become surprisingly capable, but they can’t do everything. They can’t play the latest PC games or run the desktop version of Photoshop. You can’t install iTunes and maintain a 500GB collection of local music files. But you’d be surprised at all the things a Chromebook can do. A Chromebook can accomplish most of the things most people do on laptops.

What’s a Chromebook?

Chromebooks run Chrome OS, which is primarily just a Chrome browser with some other software around it to make it more useful. There’s a simple local file system that lets you view files like images, documents, videos, music, and archive files, but you’ll be spending most of your time in Chrome. If you’re someone who already spends most of your time in Chrome, a Chromebook might be a good option.
That said, you’ll be limited to applications you can run in Chrome. There’s definitely offline support, including a Gmail Offline app, so you don’t have to worry about being unable to read your email, look at your calendar, or write documents without a Wi-Fi connection, but if you depend on software that’s only available for Windows or Mac desktops, you may want to skip the Chromebook.
Rather than rely on local files — there’s some local storage, but not very much — you’re encouraged to use cloud-based file storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, or SkyDrive. Google Drive is the most integrated solution, and buying a Chromebook like the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook will get you 100GB of Google Drive space for two years.
There’s no Skype just yet, but Google Hangouts works great and offers the ability to have video chats with up to ten people for free — unlike Skype, which requires you pay for this feature.

Documents, Spreadsheets, and Slideshows

Chrome OS has access to all the web-based office software out there. This includes Google Docs, and Chrome offers offline access to your documents so you can keep writing new documents and editing existing documents even while you’re offline.
If you really need Microsoft Office, you won’t find the desktop version of Office available to you on a Chromebook — but you will have access to Microsoft’s Office Web Apps. They don’t offer any offline access, but you can edit documents from SkyDrive and use familiar Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote interfaces in your browser. You won’t find every advanced Office feature here, but basic document editing and viewing are all many people do with Office.
Best of all, the Office Web Apps and Google Docs are completely free — there’s no boxed software cost or monthly subscription fee, as there are with Microsoft’s other Office products.
google-docs-offline-chromebook

Notes, To-Do Lists, Reminders

Chromebooks have a variety of notation and to-do list apps available. There’s a web-based version of Evernote that can be used on Chrome OS, while Google offers their own Google Keep app that works offline with an online sync feature — so it will work perfectly when you’re not connected to a Wi-Fi network.
google-keep-app-on-chrome-os
All web-based to-do list apps will work, but apps like Any.DO andWunderlist offer offline packaged app version that work entirely offline. So-called “packaged apps” that work entirely offline are becoming more common — even Pocket now offers a packaged app that will sync your reading list to your Chromebook, allowing you to read your saved web pages even if you don’t have an Internet connection.

Editing Photos

You can easily grab photos off a digital camera using a USB cable or by plugging in an SD card. The photos can be saved to your Chromebook’s local storage, but you’ll probably want to upload them to a web-based file service like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Google+ Photos.
You can also easily access photos stored in the cloud — if you use an Android smartphone and set up instant photo upload in Google+ or Dropbox, all the photos you snap will be automatically uploaded and available on the web on your Chromebook.
When it comes to photo-editing, there’s a built-in basic image editing, but otherwise you’re dependent on web-based tools. There are countless web-based image editors out there, but if you’re looking for an extremely powerful one, you should try Pixlr.
pixlr-image-editor-on-chrome-os

Listening to Music

You could download MP3 files to your Chromebook and listen to them locally, but there’s not much local storage space and your Chromebook isn’t really designed for that. As long as you have an Internet connection, you can stream music from all the typical websites —SpotifyPandoraRdioTuneIn Radio, and more.
If you want to take your local music collection with you, you can useGoogle Play Music. Install Google Play Music Manager on your current Windows, Mac, or Linux computer and it will upload up to 20,000 songs to your Google account — entirely for free — and allow you to stream them on-demand from anywhere, including your Chromebook.
listening-to-music-on-chromebook

Watching Movies

Chromebooks have access to all the standard web-based video services, including NetflixHuluYouTube, and anything else using Flash or HTML5 to play back videos in your browser. You can also play local video files, such as ones in MP4 format, so if you can find a link to an MP4 file online you can download it to your Chromebook and watch it using the local video player.
If you have an Android phone or tablet, it’s simple to plug in your phone and copy such local music or movie files back and forth via the Files app. Chromebooks don’t play too well with Apple’s iPhones and iPads.
watching-netflix-on-chromebook

Playing Games

Games are definitely a weak point of Chrome OS. If you’re a PC gamer, you won’t find all the games you’ve come to expect on your Chromebook. However, if you only play a few casual games — maybe you’re a gamer but you prefer consoles, anyway — you’ll find you have access to quite a few games.
Unlike iPads and modern Android tablets, Chromebooks officially support Flash content. That means you have access to all the Flash games online, including ones on sites like Kongregate. There are also the games in the Chrome web store, including ones that use HTML5.
Nevertheless, if you plan on doing major gaming, you’re going to want a Windows PC or a console — that’s just the way it is. If you’re a gamer but you already have a Windows PC or console and don’t expect your laptop to do any gaming, you can get along pretty well with a Chromebook.
chrome-web-store-games

Working with Windows and Mac Computers

You can’t run Windows or Mac desktop software on your Chromebook, although you can set up Chrome Remote Desktop on a remote Windows, Mac, or Linux PC and access its desktop remotely. If you have access to a Windows desktop, you could remotely access it from your Chromebook if you ever needed to use a desktop program. Nevertheless, if you depend on running such software regularly, a Chromebook isn’t for you.
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You can also connect standard USB flash drives to a Chromebook, allowing you to transfer files between computers. Files can also be transferred with web-based services — for example, by sharing them in Dropbox or Google Drive. Chromebooks also work with other standard peripherals, like USB mice.

Should you Get a Chromebook?

Chromebooks aren’t for everyone. If you’re in a class that requires you use Photoshop, Office, or another desktop program, you can’t get by with just a Chromebook. If you want to sit in the back of class playing Call of Duty on your laptop, a Chromebook won’t do that, either.
If you’re looking for a cheap, lightweight, and fast laptop that lets you get on the web and gives you access to the Chrome browser without any other junk getting in the way, Chromebooks can be a great option.
At the moment, the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook — check out our review — is probably the best one to get. It’s inexpensive at only $249, quick to boot, lightweight, and portable with decent battery life. The hardware — keyboard and touchpad included — feel fairly good, too. Samsung and Google made all the right compromises to hit a $249 price point while offering a good experience.
Have you picked up a Chromebook yet? Would you recommend one, or did you find it too limited? Leave a comment and share your experiences!
Source: www.makeuseof.com


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