SPECS BE DAMNED! LONG LIVE THE CHROMEBOOK
At a time when technology is evolving at a breakneck pace and consumers are obsessed with having the latest and greatest products on hand at all times there’s an emerging line of thought that we no longer need super fast processors, countless gigabytes of
I’ve always been a techy guy. Ever since my parents bought me a Commodore 64 for my 6th birthday, computers have fascinated me. I never quite cut it as a developer, and coding definitely isn’t my forte, but I’ve retained a healthy interest in developments within the technology world for the majority of my 31 years.
As a dedicated follower of tech fashion, as it were, I’ve always been hooked on specs. I needed the fastest processor, the most RAM, the future- proofed motherboard, the highest resolution displays and just about everything in between. My logic has always been that I’m a busy guy, dontcha know, and those seconds saved on the time it takes Photoshop or InDesign to load could well make a big difference at some stage.
Obviously that’s complete nonsense, but that’s the mindset that spec followers eventually find themselves in. If it’s not the fastest, it’s irrelevant. And up until very recently that’s continued to be my view on the technology world.
However that changed this month when I found myself in need of a new laptop. I had compiled a shortlist comprised of devices I’d had first hand experience with, as well as several units that had been favourably reviewed on some of my go to tech sites, and was fully sure that nothing but a blazingly fast laptop with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a meaty SSD would fit the bill.
A reasonable enough set of requirements in my mind… it’d easily be able to handle anything I had to throw at it during the working day.
And then I realized something. I’m a writer, first and foremost, and in the past year I’ve made the transition away from my previous staple, Microsoft Word, to Google’s wonderful Docs. If you’re not familiar with Docs, or Drive in general, then you really need to check it out ASAP. Its cloud- based format means that you can create a file on your Drive, start working on it ( all the while it’s saving automatically on the cloud) and then pick up where you left off on literally any other compatible device in the world.
Heck, my smartphone is even a decent option if I find myself in a needing to access or write an article while I’m out and about.
Realizing that I spend the bulk of my working life using Google Drive was pretty surprising, I’ve got to admit. So much so that I started to drill down through my other most- used pieces of software…
Obviously browsing the internet and having email access play a major part of any job in the media these days - instantaneous communication of news, product information and teaser videos are essential for my work, so the need for a fast and reliable browser has led me to Chrome ( admittedly a lot longer after most people - I found it more difficult than it needed to be to give up the handy vertical bookmarks panel in Firefox), another Google product, while the ability to pull mail from my work accounts into Gmail has made centralization of information a whole lot easier than it has been in the past.
But I also have major input into the design work our team does, so surely InDesign and Photoshop are prerequisites? That was my initial reaction anyway, and then I thought about how often I used either piece of software on my old laptop… and the answer was a resounding “almost never, because the screen is too small to be even remotely useful, and I can’t really use my Wacom tablet when I’m out and about”. Essentially, I only use elements of Creative Cloud when I’m sitting at my workstation and have all the necessary space, as well as multiple displays, available to me.
Now, I know I don’t speak for everyone, and I would never claim to, but on assessing what I actually needed from a laptop by figuring out what I would REALLY use it for, the specs started to become incredibly irrelevant. Nothing I would turn to a trusty portable device for required more than minimal power to carry out. Heck, an internet connection and a keyboard was really all I realistically needed. If you’re a tech aficionado, you’ll likely know where this is going…
Having spent almost two years fully rubbishing the concept of Chromebooks, using all those cliched arguments you’ve heard a thousand times before (“Chrome OS isn’t an operating system, it’s a browser” or “I’ve got more powerful calculators” or “but can it run Crysis 3 on high settings?”), I had come to the realization that a Chromebook actually represented the best