I’d been having trouble with my nearly three-year-old MacBook Pro since the holidays. Last week, the problem elevated from occasional to frequent as my writing days were suddenly overrun with forced restarts called “kernel panics.”
A visit to my local Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) Store confirmed my fears: I’d need to leave the machine for repair, with the likely fix either a new hard drive, new logic board, or both. A two-year-old Chromebook, given to me at Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)‘s early 2011 developer conference, would become my primary tool for getting work done.
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This isn’t the new Pixel we’re talking about. Rather, I use an original Samsung 500 series Chromebook with just 2GB of memory and 16GB of storage. A lightweight machine in every sense of the phrase, you might say. Comparing it with my full-fledged MacBook Pro was always going to be unfair.
Thing is, I didn’t start the comparisons: Google did when it introduced the Pixel and priced it as if it were a Mac substitute. Unfortunately, its dual-core 1.8 GHz processor clocks in much slower than newer Macs. Even my old Pro and its single-core 2.66 GHz processor hold up well thanks to 8GB of RAM, important when you’re working with lots of open tabs connected to cloud-hosted software.
Now imagine how the Series 500 might perform under the same conditions, and you’ll get a sense of what my days were like. Every task took longer. Writing. Research. Just the act of switching between tabs forced the built-in Chrome OS to reload pages made idle in order to save on spare memory.
I’d need a USB adapter before plugging into the wired Ethernet network, only to find it faster to stick with Wi-Fi. And finally, try as I might, I’d fail at connecting my Chromebook to an external monitor. Samsung built a custom VGA adapter port into the Series 500 that a service rep I spoke with said was obtainable only via mail order.