Recently, about three months ago, I bought a Chromebook as a replacement for my old and dying laptop. I decided to get a Chromebook over a laptop because it was lighter, inexpensive and more portable opposed to an average laptop. This is because Chromebook’s run on Chrome OS which is cheaper and requires less hardware than most laptops which typically run on Windows.
I settled on buying the Toshiba Chromebook because it is a good quality Chromebook, with a decent screen size compared to most at 13” and it also has a great battery life at about seven to eight hours, which is a priority for me as I often take it places where I have the inability to charge it.
Compared to a laptop, Chromebooks don’t have a large memory size (2GB at an average), but there is an SD card slot, so you can buy an SD card, which is very inexpensive, and that gives the Chromebook a larger memory as you can save documents etc. onto the SD card instead. I actually find this nicer than having the storage just on the laptop as you can take out the SD card and put it into devices and transfer documents. Another benefit of this is that you can buy larger storage SD cards than those which a laptop typically has, and you could even buy multiple ones if you were to run out of space- but that is highly unlikely, especially if you are using it solely for writing.
Word Processors/ Google Docs
The main problem that a lot of writers don’t like about the Chromebook is its inability to run scrivener. I don’t use scrivener so this wasn’t a problem for me, but if you do use this programme then it is definitely something which you need to put in consideration.
The built-in word processor in Chromebooks is Google Docs. I actually think very highly of Google Docs and it is the main word processor I use (I also like to use Hemingway App, but the majority of the time I just use it for editing). However, there are many other word processors which you can access online or download from the built-in ‘Web Store’. You can even get Microsoft Word for Chromebooks on it. But Google Docs is pretty much a simplified version of Microsoft Word. There aren’t any functions that I wish were on Google Docs; in fact, I find it an easier programme to use opposed to Word, as it doesn’t have those complicated functions- which not many people use anyway!
There are actually a few functions which Google Docs possess that I find useful, and Microsoft Word (2010) lacked. In Google Docs you can share documents with people, and there are multiple ways you can share it with them. First, you could have it set up so that they can write whatever they want- so you are co-writing the document. I have found this very useful and have used it many times in the past. Another way you can share your document(s) to have it that whoever you share your document with can edit what you have written, but what they edit pops up in a different colour and you, the main author, have to approve of what they have done before the document changes properly. And the last one is so that the person you are sharing it with can just view it, and are unable to change the document. You can actually use these functions yourself which I have found useful as often I tend to delete a ton of writing then regret it, so when I’m editing I can just put it on ‘Suggesting’ mode and I have to go back and approve of it before I decide to delete the text forever.
Another function which I love is that it saves automatically. It does this quite often- about every fifteen, or so, seconds. This has saved me so many times, for if I run out of battery or such, it’s already saved and I haven’t lost all the writing which I had done after saving. This function has been a complete lifesaver; I cannot count the number of times it has rescued my word from being lost!
The last function which Google Docs has which I use a lot is the ability to highlight text and write notes. It just has the note in a little speech bubble off of the page, and I use this all the time. Before, I used to have a notebook which I wrote down notes for what I needed to edit when I was reading through my work, but using this function is so much easier and less time consuming.
Writing in Large Quantities
One downfall of Google Docs is that I’ve found when I write large quantities- normally over about twenty-five pages or so, it starts to lag. It keeps freezing, so it’s hard to scroll up or down- which is a huge pain for reading over or editing text. There also becomes a delay in the words you type. What I have done to get around this is that I make a folder for each project which is this type of size, and I divide my writing up into different documents so that the page doesn’t start to lag. This is an inconvenience and can be a real pain at times, but once you have it sorted out it isn’t too bad.
Although Google Docs does open up as a web browser, you do not need to have an internet connection to create, continue or edit a document. But you do have to set this up before you go without the internet- but you only have to do it once. This can be done by going into Google Drive and clicking the button which states: ‘Sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides & Drawings files to this computer so that you can edit offline’. This then makes the last one hundred files you last opened available offline. I find that this is enough for me, but this could be a problem depending on how many files you have and how often you tend to open old files etc.
Overall, I am impressed with the Chromebook and I find it great for writing, especially for its portability as I like to take it places with me to write on the go. I would recommend Chromebooks for writers, but really it is up to the individual and what you want your laptop/ Chromebook for.