Chrome for the Holidays
Google Chromebook hit the market heavily this year. With the $250 price tag and fast startup, this is a very intriguing product for schools, and families are sure to have equipped students with this computer over the holidays.
The Chromebook is used primarily while connected to the Internet since it runs applications through the browser. According to CNET, this is a great computer for users who are comfortable with apps and documents living in the cloud, such as Google Docs. While the Chromebook can be used offline, functionality is greatly diminished. Relying on the Internet connection to function well is a bit worrisome to me. We all know how reliable some wireless Internet connections can be, especially in schools or on the road. Even 3G is troublesome around my town.
There are a few points to know if you are considering a purchase for a student:
- Remember the heavy need to be tied in to the Internet for many functions. There is a 3G version; you may need to consider that upgrade.
- Some elements created in Flash do not perform properly, and support for Flash varies between manufacturers. Google says they officially support Flash, but during internal testing, Flash did not always behave as expected.
- Java is unsupported by Chromebook, causing Java-based course components not to function.
- Programs designed for the Windows and/or Macintosh operating systems won’t function on the Chromebook operating system, but there may be apps that perform the same functions.
For schools looking at a Chromebook purchase, Google has a great resource: Chrome Devices for Education, which gives great detail on the considerations for educational deployment. You can always check the FLVS hardware requirements for additional guidance on choosing the right computer at http://flvs.net/areas/faqs/Pages/HardwareRequirements.aspx.
For me, I’m sticking with my MacBook for now. I don’t think I’m ready to make the leap entirely to an Internet dependent device. I’ll keep my iPad as a second screen device, but watch this market for further developments.