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10 reasons to take a Chromebook on the road

By Maria Korolov, Network World
October 21, 2013 06:05 AM ET

Network World - If you're trying to decide which device to buy for your next trip because your current laptop is too old, too slow, too heavy and just plain too embarrassing; or, conversely, too new and too expensive to risk a mishap on the road, consider a Chromebook.

Here are 10 reasons why.

1. It works even without an Internet connection

Yes, a Chromebook is basically just the Chrome browser with the minimum possible hardware and operating system wrapped around it, and normally a browser is pretty useless without the Web. But if you're using Google Drive, then your Google documents and applications are still available off-line.

The way it works is that the Chromebook downloads the last 100 files you opened in Google Drive, plus any files you specifically flag that you want to work on offline. (There's a setting under the “More” option in the left-side tool bar of Google Drive that enables offline access.)

Chromebook
Credit: wikimedia.org

The Chromebook's offline functionality includes word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, photo editing, email, calendar, a music player, plus hundred more other offline apps available for download from the Google Chrome Web Store. And that includes Angry Birds. You can also save Web pages for later offline reading.

2. It's got a keyboard you can type on

Not everyone likes typing on an on-screen keyboard. Touch-typing while conducting interviews or taking notes on a tablet at a meeting is all but impossible for some people, and using an external keyboard can be awkward.

The Chromebook keyboard isn't exactly roomy, but the keys are well separated and have a good tactile feel to them. If typing comfort is important to you, make sure to try out the keyboard in a store before buying.

The only problematic issue with the Acer Chromebook is the touchpad. It doesn't have the two usual buttons – instead, the entire bottom area of the touchpad is a button that can be pressed to click, which means that you can't right-click on links to, say, open them in new tabs. Users are expected to tap with two fingers instead of one to right-click, which takes a bit of practice to get used to.

[ALSO: 12 tips and tools Chromebook power users]

3. It's ridiculously easy to use

The only problem you're likely to have when first using the Acer C7 Chromebook is figuring out how to right-click on something when the trackpad doesn't have a right-click button. The trick is to use two fingers on the pad instead of one. Other than that, the Chromebook is completely intuitive.

You open the cover, type in your Google email address and password, and you're in. To open a new text document, click the little word processor icon at the bottom of the screen. It's right after the icons for the browser, email, and Google search.

The Chrome OS might be based on Linux, but Google did a marvelous job at making it simple. There are no drivers to install – everything just works, instantly, right out of the box.

There's nothing to learn, no delays while you figure out how to do something with everyone else at the meeting staring at you. You can save your brainpower for remembering the names of new people you meet and where you put your boarding pass.

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