I’m writing this on a new Asus C302 Chromebook, which arrived on Wednesday. It’s my first experience with the Chrome operating system, although I’m actually dual booting with the Linux distro, Gallium.
This flexibility offers considerable advantages.
The Chromebook itself is a handy device with a 360-degree hinge which enables it to be used as a laptop or tablet. It has a camera, wi-fi and bluetooth connectivity and micro SD storage.
At 1.2kg and 30cm wide it’s a little bulky in tablet mode compared with an iPad, but it makes up for it with general productivity.
Chrome OS is basically just the Chrome browser. That’s enough for most day-to-day computing needs but the availability of Android apps from the Google Play store makes it even more powerful.
Using the excellent Nine email client I’m able to access my work and personal email accounts. The Microsoft Android apps for Word, Excel and Powerpoint all work smoothly in Chrome.
Linux on Chromebooks
It’s already possible to install Linux software on Chromebooks running the latest kernel. The Asus C302 isn’t capable of that, but no problem, just dual boot.
Gallium is based on Xubuntu and maintains compatibility with the Ubuntu repositories. This gives access to all the Linux software you could possibly need. Libre Office, MasterPDF and Hiri (email) are just as good as any Windows equivalent.
I won’t be editing video on this device, but it meets all my business and personal computing needs while being ultra portable.
The picture below shows it running Gallium, connected by USB hub to a wide-screen monitor and Logitech keyboard and mouse.
This was my first purchase on Amazon Prime. At $677 it’s a little pricey but it’s better value than a Pixelbook which still can’t be easily obtained in Australia.
Touchscreen works perfectly in Gallium. The only problem I’ve had is getting audio to work, although it does connect to bluetooth speakers.