Tuesday, July 08, 2014

My next desktop will be a Chromebase -- a Chrome-based all-in-one -- will yours?

My next desktop will be an LG Chromebase or something similar -- how about you?

A while back, I reviewed an Acer Chromebook, comparing it to my Windows laptop and a tablet. While the laptop remains my main computer, the Chromebook easily beat the tablet for my application mix. (More worrisome for Apple, my 10-year old grandson agreed -- he liked the Chromebook better than his iPad). But, now we have a new entry, the LG Chromebase, an all-in-one desktop running the Chrome OS and browser. How does it stack up against my laptop, tablet and the Chromebook?

Where does the Chromebase fit in?

The bottom like is that my next desktop will be an LG Chromebase or something similar -- like a chromebox with a good keyboard and display. To understand why, check out the following picture of my current desktops -- two old tower PCs running Windows 7 and an iMac.

Kids installing crapware (and playing games)

The towers are used as kid arcade machines and the iMac is used for Web surfing, email, Skype calls, video Hangouts and kid games. That's it. No resource-intensive applications like video editing. (Time Warner's Internet connectivity can get in the way of those video Hangouts, but that is a different rant).

I've not used a Chromebase, but, based on my experience with the Chromebook, I am confident that a Chromebase with 4 Gbytes of memory could handle all of my desktop applications. It would run them as fast as the desktops, boot way faster, be more reliable, and, most important, be locked down. Look back at the picture of that room full of little kids playing games -- how frequently would you guess they click on some bogus link and download some cool-sounding program that turns out to be crapware or worse?

Of course, all this holds for my desktop applications, but it may not for yours. What if there were a good, Chrome-based version of Microsoft Office -- would that do it for you? Still not satisfied? How about the equivalent of an audio editor like Audacity and an image editor like Paint.net? That would not be enough to get me to give up my laptop, but it would be getting close.

Microsoft has released Office for the iPad (too little too late?) and will soon have an Android version. Is a browser-based version be far behind?

In December 2008 Bill Gates wrote a memo warning that "allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by other peoples browsers is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company." In January 2010 Steve Jobs predicted that "The world is moving to HTML5." In September, 2012, Mark Zuckerberg said "I think the biggest mistake that we made, as a company, is betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native ... because it just wasn't there." (Yet).

I think they were all right -- the trick is getting the timing right (like the Mac, not the Lisa) -- LG thinks the time is right about now.