Traveling can be hard. Especially when you are on a business trip and have to carry a ton of gear. However, on my last one, I decided to shake things up a little. Apart from skipping a DSLR and relying only on my phone, I took a three-year-old Chromebook.
That choice allowed me to leave behind three other gadgets I normally have with me on such journeys — my 13-inch MacBook Pro, a Kindle, and a spare phone where I offload all the Netflix shows I want to binge watch. And it went spectacularly. I don’t think I will be ever returning to my previous setup. To understand, how the Chromebook was able to wear so many hats, here’s a brief overview of how my first day, which mostly involved airports and flights, went.
9 AM. My cab has arrived. But since Bangalore’s airport is across the mountains (figuratively, not literally), it will take two hours for me to reach. I get inside the car, take out the Chromebook from my backpack, and begin working on a few pending stories without going through the hassle of any external accessories since there is an inbuilt trackpad and keyboard.
The most fundamental factor behind why Chromebooks work so well for me (or probably for everyone else) is the fact that they’re computers with a couple of tablet capabilities and not the other way around. The reason for that is you can live with minor compromises in the tablet experience but having a restricted computer can mar your productivity. Of course, that won’t be true for everyone, especially creative professionals. But having a convertible with a desktop browser that can also run mobile apps is the perfect equation for a two-in-one if you ask me. More on this later.
11 AM. My computer’s still at 75% and so is my checklist for the day. I exit the taxi, go through the check-in and security process which didn’t take more than an hour as I didn’t have much luggage on me.
12 PM. I head over to the lounge, grab my lunch, connect my Bluetooth earphones, and put the Chromebook in the tent position so that I can watch something while eating. My flight is at 1.30 PM, so I still had nearly an hour before I need to rush to the gate and board.
Another key feature which you would expect from a two-in-one is, of course, battery life and nearly every Chromebook, whether affordable or expensive, nails that. Even on my Asus Flip which is about three years old, I can easily get over six hours on a normal workday. Being almost a kilo lighter than my 13-inch MacBook Pro, it’s also significantly more easy to lug around terminals and airports.
12.30 PM. I remember I haven’t downloaded any books for the flight. I hold down the YouTube app window’s maximize key, switch to the multitasking mode, and place the Kindle app on the other side. I offload a bunch of books and all set.
While all this is happening, I also have the Simplenote app in the background where I am jotting down ideas for a pitch. I jump to the note by hitting the alt-tab shortcut, conclude the pitch, copy the text, and open up the WhatsApp Web tab in Google Chrome for sending it to my editor.
Google has rolled out a dozen or so updates in the last few updates for Chrome OS and all of them were primarily built to make sure Android apps and Chrome OS play well together. And it certainly shows especially when you’re switching back and forth between them. Earlier what lead to crashes or simply shutdowns now functions flawlessly. In addition, there’s multi-window support now so that you can put two apps or Chrome windows side-by-side and not worry about one of them behaving oddly.
1.00 PM. It’s time to board. The Chromebook’s battery is still at a healthy 60% which should suffice for reading books or watching TV shows on the three-hour-long flight.
One of the biggest complaints Google has overcome by bringing Android app support is offline content. You can download Netflix shows, ebooks from Amazon, and everything else you can on an Android phone. Before, Chrome OS was vastly limited without an internet connection. Except for documents or videos you’ve downloaded from the web, you couldn’t do much.
4.30 PM. I had landed. The flight was late. My computer, however, was still at 15%. I had another plane to board later and my following evening comprised of publishing stories, watching movies, and more.
The most crucial upper-hand Chromebooks hold today over others is the fact that they’re able to handle nearly everything you would do either on a computer or a tablet without breaking a sweat or your bank. Except for Google’s own Pixelbook, the highest end Chromebooks cost just $500 which is still way less than an iPad Pro or any other tablet for what you’re getting. In addition, the newer models are even compatible with Linux apps.
Before the trip, I too was quite skeptical of whether the Chromebook would be able to keep up with my workflow. It certainly proved me wrong. At this point, I’m almost convinced my next computer will be just a better Chromebook as I simply can’t return to my old routine of carrying those three gadgets again.