What it's like living on a Chromebook, Part 2

Trying to tackle media editing on a Chromebook.

I spent a week living in a Chromebook, and I actually rather enjoyed it.

But there were still some obstacles that prevented me from being able to use a Chromebook, and only a Chromebook, as the center of my computing world. Namely: video editing and audio editing. If I could find solutions to those, I’d be living the sweet life on this here Chromebook.

See also: What it's like living on a Chromebook, Part 1

This last week I've dedicated myself to the proposition that overcoming these obstacles is possible – and I was determined to do it.

The results were… mixed. Highly mixed.

Let’s start with video editing. For me, this (mostly) means editing and posting fairly simple videos to YouTube. My needs are relatively modest in this regard – I need to be able to make cuts, add some audio tracks, and a few titles with transitions. As long as the video editor I am using works has those features and supports HD, I’m good to go.

As luck would have it, there’s actually a video editor built into YouTube.com that does exactly that. It’s not fancy. And it certainly doesn’t possess the features and capabilities of even most consumer-grade video editors, but it does the job quite well.

That is, of course, assuming you use YouTube exclusively. If you want to have a bit more flexibility in where you store your videos, WeVideo might be a better option (it even has an Android app for editing on your tablet). On the flip-side, WeVideo charges a monthly fee if you want to export videos that don’t have a WeVideo ad included. But it’s not terribly expensive (only $4 a month), so that’s not too bad really.

Either option is, from my (admittedly fairly limited) experience, adequate for basic video editing needs on a Chromebook.

For audio, there are a number of basic audio recorders available. But the ability to record an audio clip only gets you so far. In order for a Chromebook to replace my traditional Linux desktop (with glorious audio tools like Audacity and Ardour) I’m going to need something a bit beefier. Multiple tracks. Effects. At the very least I need a simple waveform editor.

The best I have been able to find is audiotool – a surprisingly capable audio workstation that lives online. Feature-wise, it is damned impressive. And it looks good, too. Truth be told, I've had difficulties getting recorded audio into it from my Chromebook…but I’m still working on that.

At the moment, I’d say that audio editing on a Chromebook still isn’t quite there. But it’s close. And that surprised me somewhat. 

Honestly, I was pretty amazed at what I could accomplish with existing web apps for doing multimedia production on a Chromebook. The fact that I can edit basic video clips at all was not something that I expected. It’s certainly somewhat limited in capabilities…but the fact that it’s doable at all is just plain wacky.

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