Author Topic: Macbook vs. Chromebook?  (Read 6736 times)

superone!

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Macbook vs. Chromebook?
« on: July 18, 2014, 01:07:26 AM »

Hello moustachio'd ones. I'd love some advice on wise computer buying practice...

Computers aren't really buy it for life kinds of acquisitions, unfortunately...

I recently started a new job in which I will be able (and possibly required) to occasionally work from home. Awesome! Except that I am not issued a laptop as I had hoped I would be. My home computer is a Macbook from 2007 that I've been stringing along for a few years. It's updated to its fullest RAM and software capacity and clean for a 7 year old machine, but still running too slowly for me to be able to work from it effectively. Lovely for MMM web surfing, but once I get into actual work, no bueno.

My new job primarily uses google docs, and for the occasional and less in-depth work I'd be doing from home, I'm thinking a chromebook might be sufficient.

Anyone have experience with a chromebook? My options are to plonk real $ into a new Macbook (oh how I want to...but frugality!), purchase a used macbook, or just buy a $199 chromebook (or even a used one?).

Advice?

I've been really happy with my macbook for the last 7 years. I was really hoping to make it to a solid 10, but that might not happen given the new job. I like the reliability of the mac machines, but then again, I like the idea of being able to delay the purchase of a new "real" computer by a few more years. I use a mac desktop at work, no real interest in moving to a windows or linux platform, though I might be persuadable if anyone has good suggestions on that front.

Thanks!

Guardian

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Re: Macbook vs. Chromebook?
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2014, 02:00:55 AM »
Just my two cents:

I'm a university student and mostly just need google docs and the like, but found using chromebooks too limiting. I understand the appeal. I personally bought, tried out, and returned 3 different chromebooks and eventually got a used macbook air.

Best wishes

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Macbook vs. Chromebook?
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2014, 02:18:31 AM »
If a Chromebook would be sufficient for your work, why not your old MacBook? After all, they both run Chrome and use slow hardware.

With the Chromebook you'd also have a tiny 11" screen, whether that bothers you or not.

Is it an issue with RAM? Storage speed (an SSD would help there)?
« Last Edit: July 18, 2014, 05:14:56 AM by alsoknownasDean »

agent_clone

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Re: Macbook vs. Chromebook?
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2014, 02:29:14 AM »
I have a chromebook, but I mostly use it for surfing the net so I'm not sure on how it goes performance wise.  Given that from what I've been able to find on the net about a 2007 macbook, I would suggest that the chromebook wouldn't be sufficiently powerful enough.  The chromebooks (at least those available in Australia) have lower specifications than your macbook, particularly if you've maxed out the RAM.  I have a memory from when I was doing research on the chromebook that it can have performance issues when you have more than a few tabs open.  It will maybe have a better network card than your macbook though.

My internet currently is not good enough to test out larger documents (I wouldn't be able to tell if it's the machine or the internet).

If I were spending the money for work purposes I would pick the macbook over the chromebook.  The macbook also has more utility that the chromebook.

Just to let you know, Chrome OS (which is what Chromebooks use) is a linux system.  Mac OS X's underlying system is a BSD which unix like system.  You should also be able to have a dual boot of Mac OS and Linux, if you wanted to try a linux distribution out.  Dual boot is where you have two operating systems on the machine at once, you select which you would like to use on start up.

I can't advise you on a good Linux distribution as I only occasionally decide to put a Linux system on a computer at home and I'm not sure which are the good lightweight distributions (by lightweight I mean that it uses less processing power/RAM in its general day to day operations and rendering of the screen).  The last version of Ubuntu I installed (12.04 I think) I was not happy with as I like to have for example multiple browser windows open and I had issues navigating between the windows.

cmoate

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Re: Macbook vs. Chromebook?
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2014, 03:58:35 AM »
I would really suggest getting a Solid State Drive (SSD) fitted into your current Macbook. I believe that computers in the last ten years are so insanely fast in general, that the main piece of hardware that has held the computer back is the mechanical hard drive that is most common these days. While mechanical hard drives are great and inexpensive for file storage, they are terribly slow for using as your main computers drive where information is accessed back and forth. what I would suggest is an SSD big or small, as long as it will fit your operating system (Mac OSX I presume) and your most needed programs it will suffice. SSD's are orders of magnitude faster at reading and writing data compared to the mechanical hard drives, so everything will feel much quicker, especially since this, as well as a complete refresh of your computer through installing a completely new copy of your operating system, will also declutter your PC and perform much more efficiently.

In short I would backup all your important files from your current hard drive, install a new SSD into your macbook, install either a new copy or a current copy of the Mac operating system onto that drive (existing is best for maximum frugality points ;) ) and even source a portable hard drive case and put your old hard drive into it for portable storage for your Macbook. (Big storage SSD's don't come cheap! figure out how much space you will need for all the essentials, then add a bit to it, 128gb would probably be very safe for the operating system and all the programs you might need)

Have a search on youtube: SSD vs HDD if you want to see the absolutely astonishing differences there are when it comes to the correlation to the computers overall performance and the drive type it uses.

EDIT: I forgot to mention, doing the above will end up much, much cheaper than even buying a Chromebook. Just make sure you find an honest IT guy or an IT savvy friend to help you, or even DIY, it is a very simple job to do, very much like installing more RAM.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2014, 04:05:53 AM by cmoate »

Fleacircus

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Re: Macbook vs. Chromebook?
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2014, 05:02:23 AM »
I like cmoate's idea.

I use a Chromebook at home, but for work I would want a bigger screen.  I haven't had any performance issues regarding internet browsing, watching videos, or using Google docs.  If your work is mostly reading and typing stuff, a Chromebook would probably be sufficient performance-wise.

I do occasionally run across a web form or something that doesn't work well with Chrome, but that's probably true for Safari, too.

neo von retorch

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Re: Macbook vs. Chromebook?
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2014, 05:36:56 AM »
More specifically, what software do you need to be able to run (effectively) to do your job remotely?

Do you need remote desktop and specific VPN software?
Do you need to run office software?

What else?

Daley

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Re: Macbook vs. Chromebook?
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2014, 09:18:35 AM »
The Macbook is fine. As has been recommended, an SSD is a useful upgrade. It'll be faster and more powerful than any Chromebook, and if you're willing to go ChromeOS, there's no reason to eliminate Linux as an OS of choice given that's basically what you'd be using anyway if you switched (albeit heavily stripped down).

Ignoring the whole new hard drive issue, when was the last time you did a fresh and clean OS install? Bitrot happens on any OS, as does file fragmentation. That said, are you using an early '07 plastic Macbook or the late '07 aluminum? Are you able to run Mavericks on this thing, or are you stuck on Lion? Lion's not receiving security updates anymore, and I wouldn't recommend using an OS that's not receiving security updates for use with business.

My suggestion? If a Chromebook is a viable option to actually do work on, embrace the penguin. Go 64 bit Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, in fact. It supports native EFI installation, the Unity interface is reasonably Mac-ish with a unified menu and dock, and you'll still get a full-blown desktop experience. Install the Chromium browser. All the cost savings and platform benefits of a Chromebook, without even spending money on a Chromebook, and you can dual-boot if you like. The only headaches are going to be tweaking touchpad sensitivity and getting the iSight camera working. I can help with that if needed, I just rehabbed a Macbook4,1 (plastic, early '07) this past week doing just this.

Dyk

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Re: Macbook vs. Chromebook?
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2014, 10:00:54 AM »
I'll help keep the waters muddy.   Pursue/think about it in order of $ spent.

1.  Re-load OS on current Macbook (per I.P Dailey) - $0
2.  Same thing with Solid State Drive (per cmoate) - $125 at most for a higher end (http://www.rakuten.com/prod/samsung-840-pro-series-128gb-2-5-sata-iii-solid-state-drive-ssd/242299164.html)
3.  Chromebook - $200-$300 - Without really knowing everything you would do from home (You state you think it will work)  You can probably get a 14" version at a local store like Staples.  Try it during the return period.
4.  Used MacBook
There is no #5, on this forum you don't buy new.

Once I realized the time/$ suck that the internet was to me, I use it less and less.  I have had a Chromebook for 2 years (Samsung model) and I love it.  I use Google Docs, Evernote, Google Keep, RDP, Logmein etc.   Obviously, it is not a full computer and not near as fast ..... but neither is it the same price.

superone!

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Re: Macbook vs. Chromebook?
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2014, 10:17:20 AM »
Thank you all for your replies!

Just FYI my Macbook is the (very stylish if I do say so) 13" black macbook from mid 2007. 2.16 GHz Intel processor, upgraded to 4 GB of RAM. 160 GB HD.

I'm concerned a little about obsolescence, especially as I can't add any more RAM and I'd need at least 2 more GB to update my OS to mountain lion. Not necessarily a problem now, but it will be as time goes on and fewer things are backwards compatible.

I hadn't thought of putting in an SSD. I will have to look in to that. Likely my biggest problem is that my macbook is just full of stuff, since it's been my main computer for 7 years. I know my hard drive is full. If I did some serious reorganization and bought an external HD I might even be able to make the macbook work as is--though I really dislike having things on an external drive.

Even if I were to get a chromebook (which is looking less a lot likely after all of your suggestions--thanks for talking me down), I would likely keep the Mac as my actual computer and just use the chromebook for work and for travel. The only thing I really need for work is access to the internet and google docs. You are right, the mac should be sufficient for this (but it keeps freezing at things like GIFs in emails....). I'm also on my 3rd replacement battery, which lasts no more than 30 minutes. I'm reluctant to buy a 4th one if I'm not positive the computer itself will last another 2-3 years, but it would be nice to have the flexibility of not being attached to the wall.

I was kind of thinking of the chromebook as a way to put off buying a new "real" computer for a few more years, but now that I'm thinking it through, it just starts to feel like acquiring more stuff. Which I don't want to do. I'm going to do a serious scrub of my Macbook and see if I can spruce it up to keep it going for another few years. Facepunch avoided (hopefully).

Daley

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Re: Macbook vs. Chromebook?
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2014, 11:23:58 AM »
Your speed issues are most definitely fragmentation and clutter based, not hardware performance. Even if you don't go the SSD route, a newer, larger SATA drive wouldn't be a terrible idea if you refuse to go with an external for archival and backup. That's even cheaper than an SSD and would still increase performance. A 1TB Hitachi Travelstar can be had for under $65. Of course, to make the data migration, you'd need to convert your old internal drive into an external for data access or use another external for data backup with Time Machine, etc.

From what I understand, the A1181 Macbook4,1 (yours appears to be the same model as the one I'm futzing with, just a different plastic shell) isn't actually supported after 10.7 despite being a 64-bit C2D. If the hardware works, it's worth keeping it going, but you'll need to go Ubuntu to keep the system secure if you can't bring OSX current. Fortunately, a 1TB HDD is plenty big to dual-boot if you don't want to jump all in. Also, Mountain Lion or Mavericks don't actually need that much RAM (though it is pushing the limits of Mavericks' bloated code - Ubuntu is considerably leaner). I've worked on plenty of Macs running both versions of OSX with 4GB of RAM. Ultimately though, Apple has gone to rolling releases and aren't patching non-current builds anymore. You want security updates, you have to run Mavericks, and when Yosemite drops, forget about any more patches to Mavericks.

Just because a software company stops supporting perfectly good and solid hardware doesn't mean you should throw it on the scrap-heap of history. It's still an amazing machine with minimal investment. Treat it nice, keep it going... but open your horizons on the software end as you already were considering.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2014, 11:26:01 AM by I.P. Daley »

rmendpara

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Re: Macbook vs. Chromebook?
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2014, 11:36:50 AM »
More has changed in laptops from 2007-now than I predict will change from now-2021.

HD screens, SSD hard drive, USB 3.0, HDMI, etc.

These are recently refreshed, and should serve you well for years to come. of course, technology is constantly updating, but future refreshes (in my opinion) will be less revolutionary than they will just be marginal evolutions in the product cycle (i.e. smaller, lighter, better batteries, etc).

Macbooks are expensive, but work very well. I paid close to $1.9k for my 15" MBPro. VERY overpriced, but I use it all the time at home... and frankly, I can afford it every 3-5 years. If this one lasts 4 years, I'll be satisfied. More than that, even better.

Of course, if you just need something to meet your needs, than there are plenty of <$500 windows laptops that you can find at almost any place that sells them that will work just fine.

I personally like the Mac interface for personal use, but am under no false impression that it is a good value. It's not. It is a luxury item.

gimp

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Re: Macbook vs. Chromebook?
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2014, 11:47:55 AM »
This question is odd - the two choices aren't really in the same ballpark. Or, rather, a new chromebook and a 2007 macbook will have about the same horsepower. Well, a slightly fancier one with a newer bay trail atom from intel would be a bit better, and you could erase chrome and stick linux on it (if you wanted).

A new macbook is an entirely different beast. Not in the same category.

Probably the most cost-effective solution for buying a device is a 15" new (possibly refurb, but new model) laptop for $250 or so. More powerful than any chromebook, and it'll last a good five years if you don't want to do anything fancy with it. The  alternative is to keep using what you have, unless it doesn't do what you need it to do.

With that said, I work on a fully kitted-out macbook pro and it is amazing.

superone!

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Re: Macbook vs. Chromebook?
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2014, 01:18:13 PM »
Your speed issues are most definitely fragmentation and clutter based, not hardware performance. Even if you don't go the SSD route, a newer, larger SATA drive wouldn't be a terrible idea if you refuse to go with an external for archival and backup. That's even cheaper than an SSD and would still increase performance. A 1TB Hitachi Travelstar can be had for under $65. Of course, to make the data migration, you'd need to convert your old internal drive into an external for data access or use another external for data backup with Time Machine, etc.

From what I understand, the A1181 Macbook4,1 (yours appears to be the same model as the one I'm futzing with, just a different plastic shell) isn't actually supported after 10.7 despite being a 64-bit C2D. If the hardware works, it's worth keeping it going, but you'll need to go Ubuntu to keep the system secure if you can't bring OSX current. Fortunately, a 1TB HDD is plenty big to dual-boot if you don't want to jump all in. Also, Mountain Lion or Mavericks don't actually need that much RAM (though it is pushing the limits of Mavericks' bloated code - Ubuntu is considerably leaner). I've worked on plenty of Macs running both versions of OSX with 4GB of RAM. Ultimately though, Apple has gone to rolling releases and aren't patching non-current builds anymore. You want security updates, you have to run Mavericks, and when Yosemite drops, forget about any more patches to Mavericks.

Just because a software company stops supporting perfectly good and solid hardware doesn't mean you should throw it on the scrap-heap of history. It's still an amazing machine with minimal investment. Treat it nice, keep it going... but open your horizons on the software end as you already were considering.

This is great advice. I think sometimes it you just want the easy & fast solution, especially when you're frustrated with a frozen computer after midnight (as I was last night when I originally posted), but as usual, MMM community is encouraging me to go smarter. I'll consider Ubuntu. I used to use linux, but I've gotten a little soft and happy with the Mac interface over the past few years with this mac. I just don't *want* to change--at least not to a windows machine.

I'm in the process of doing the defrag now. I'll report back after a serious cleanup.

hybrid

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Re: Macbook vs. Chromebook?
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2014, 01:39:35 PM »
A decent Windows 7 laptop can be had for less than $400 and will solve all the issues at a reasonable price. I am pretty agnostic about which OS one should run, but if money is an issue, well, we all know you pay a premium for Apple products. Figured I'd muddy up the waters just a little bit more.... 

FIPurpose

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Re: Macbook vs. Chromebook?
« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2014, 02:31:36 PM »
If you're a little tech savvy you can even buy a laptop that someone has given up on and reflash it with linux.

If a computer with linux on it was worth any money, I could be rich.