Chromebook Diaries – delivering presentations

POwerpint running in a web browserOne of my many roles away from the office is delivering presentations, whether it’s one-to-few or one-to-many and laptop and projector are key tools along with MS PowerPoint so I wondered how I would get on with a Chromebook?

I’ve found that there are MS Word, MS Excel and MS PowerPoint Apps in the Chrome Store which is here you can access and download Apps for Chromebooks so I’ve downloaded them all. I’ve also learned that my Microsoft Office 365 Cloud Storage has been upgraded to 1Tb at no extra cost which means that I can upload all of my presentations to the Cloud and not worry about running out of storage.

So, back on topic, Chromebooks and presentations. I powered up my trusty Toshiba projector, plugged a HDMI to VGA adapter in to my Chromebook and connected the VGA cable from projector to adapter and almost instantly my Chromebook desktop was extended, just like working with 2 monitors.

Kensington PowerPoint slide changerI plugged in the USB dongle for my Kensington remote slide changer and then accessed the screen settings and selected “Mirror” so that each display [Chromebook screen and projector] were displaying the same image.

Next, I clicked on the PowerPoint Chrome App and waited for a mere couple of seconds before PowerPoint opened and asked which presentation I wanted to run.Because I use a number of videos in my presentations I opened one that I knew included a video.

I then clicked the “Start Slide Show” option and the presentation appeared, just as it does from my trusty Windows laptop. Fantastic.

I click “forward” to move on to the next slide and the slides changed. I clicked through to a slide with a video, the video played and sound worked perfectly.

So, I am now confident that I can run PowerPoint presentations from my Chromebook, through a projector, change the slides as I walk around and let videos play in pretty much the same way that I can with my old Toshiba Windows laptop.

Fantastic!

Chromebook Diaries – editing photos on a Chromebook

When preparing presentations, writing blog posts or editing websites I need to edit photographs and other images. However, I don’t need to do the whole “Photoshop” thing, normally it’s a case of cropping, resizing, compressing and occasionally working with the colour balance, brightness or contrast to give some of the pictures a bit of a “lift” and for that, a Chromebook is more than adequate. It’s not unlike editing pictures on a tablet or phone – tools such as Pixlr Photo Editor and Pixlr Touch Up can deal with pretty much every basic image/photo editing requirement. You can see a screen grab from Photo Editor on the right and it compares very favourably with my favourite Windows editor, the free www.getpaint.net which offers simple photo editing on Windows computers. if i need to be more creative or actually originate an image then I’ll do it my PC where I can choose from Photoshop, Paintshop Pro and the excellent, and free, Gnu Image Manipulation Program, AKA the GIMP.When preparing presentations, writing blog posts or editing websites I need to edit photographs and other images.

However, I don’t need to do the whole Photoshop thing, normally it’s a case of cropping, resizing, compressing and occasionally working with the colour balance, brightness or contrast to give some of the pictures a bit of a lift, and for that, a Chromebook is more than adequate.

It’s not unlike editing pictures on a tablet or phone, tools such as Pixlr Photo Editor and Pixlr Touch Up can deal with pretty much every basic image/photo editing requirement.

You can see a screen grab from Photo Editor on the right and it compares very favourably with my favourite Windows editor, the free www.getpaint.net, which offers simple photo editing on Windows computers.

if i need to be more creative or actually originate an image then I’ll do it my PC where I can choose from Photoshop, Paintshop Pro and the excellent, and free, Gnu Image Manipulation Program, AKA the GIMP.

Chromebook Diaries – The Chromebook has landed

Andy, checking out websites as part of his workMy trusty Toshiba laptop is coming up on 3 years old and is beginning to show its age. Like its owner, it’s heavy, getting slower with age and just looks too chunky.

I have been agonising over its replacement for a while. I was taken with Windows Ultrabooks, great performance, quality screen and fantastic battery life, up to 5 hours but less than engaged by their prices, from £700 up.

I’ve also been looking at the Chromebooks which are basically small laptops with 11.6″ screens, fantastic battery life and running Google’s Chrome operating system rather than Windows. I even wrote about Chromebooks in an earlier post.

Larger screen Chromebooks are now available in in all cases battery life is as long as 9 hours, so all day computing without a charger is a realistic aim and they are impervious to viruses and other forms of malware.

Toshiba Satelite NB10 compact laptopScreen quality is perfectly acceptable but build quality, according to reviews, has been variable. However, since Xmas 2013 more and more manufactures have been releasing models using Intel processors for better performance, compared to the Samsung processors used in older Chromebooks, and manufacturers such as Toshiba and HP have released Chromebooks with larger screens, a 13″ from Toshiba and a 14″ from HP

However, I have been wary of the leap away from Windows and that has held me back, particularly after discovering a Toshiba of a very similar size to the 12″ Chromebooks, with a touch screen and Windows 8 for not a lot more money than a Chromebook, around £300 compared to the typical Chromebook price of £200 to £250.

So, I continued to sit on the fence.

Then Dell released their take on the Chromebook, an 11.6″ screen, excellent battery life, Intel dual core processor, light weight and, more importantly, 4Gb RAM.

With excellent reviews and a keen price, my mind was 90% made up. Then I spotted a great deal on eBay just as the Dell delivery date slipped from days to months, my decision was made and on Tuesday July 8th I picked up my ever so slightly used Dell Chromebook.

Chromebook Diaries – Chromebooks, an alternative to a Windows Laptop

3 laptop computers

Do you find your laptop’s too big to carry with you and the battery life too short?

Is your tablet not quite large/comfortable enough for more than a little light document editing, email work and web browsing?

Did you know that there’s an alternative that might just bridge the gap, its device that took 2/3rds of laptop sales on Amazon during December 2013 and it’s called a Chromebook.

Chromebooks come in screen sizes of 11.6″, 13.3″ and 14″, currently manufactured by Acer, HP, Samsung and Toshiba and prices start from £199.00 inc.

They are light weight, [around 1kg] have Wi-Fi and a small number have 3G/4G connectivity.

Battery life is typically 6 hours although the HP 14″ boasts a battery life of up to 9.5 hours.

They run Google’s own operating system, Chrome OS, which means they boot up in around 7-8 seconds, don’t slow down over time – unlike some computer operating systems we know – and are pretty much invulnerable to viruses and other malware that’s out in the wild.

Of course, there’s a drawback, you can’t install Microsoft Office, in fact you can’t install most software which limits you to software that’s either available in the Chrome Web Store or applications which run in your browser, because that’s pretty much what Chrome OS is, it’s Google’s Chrome browser that’s been tweaked to run a laptop. You can use Microsoft Office 365 though, because that’s a cut-down version of Office that runs in your browser so all is not lost.

Huawei MiFiIt’s also best if you can be permanently connected to the internet, although a number of apps do run off-line but you can always buy one of the 3G versions, tether your ChromeBook to your mobile phone or use one of the Mi-Fi devices which create your own personal Wi-Fi hotspot that connects to the mobile phone network through 3G or 4G

So, if you want a lightweight laptop for email, document creation/editing, web browsing and a little light gaming perhaps you should give a Chromebook a try.