Hi there! I started Little Known Life to provide encouragement, wisdom, and support to women who, like me, want to live their creative dreams. Here's what I know: Perfection is not the point, ever. You don't have to figure it all out, ever. You are wise, beautiful, and capable beyond limits. Let's get real and do the things we love. Maybe we can help each other along the way.  
-- Melanie (AKA Reeve Thomas)
#1 Secret to My Productivity: Asus Chromebook

#1 Secret to My Productivity: Asus Chromebook

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Review and recommendation for bloggers and writers

A few weeks ago, I took a leap and bought a Chromebook. I'd considered it before, but my ideas about laptops hadn't yet caught up to technology. See, I was thinking of a laptop as more like a desktop. I thought I needed a ton of hard-drive space, a Windows-based operating system, and so on. 

Around the same time, I woke up from a three-year writing coma (that's another post). I had an Acer Netbook that I was hardly using and a 10-year-old Toshiba laptop. Props to that old laptop. It still works, as long as it's plugged in, but it's painfully slow and I'm not the most patient person. I was getting frustrated by version control - which version of my latest fiction manuscript was on which device. (For that reason, I abandoned the classic Scrivener for an online writing software, but that's another post.) More than that, it just isn't always convenient to sit at my desk in the office

Asus Chromebook review and recommendation for bloggers and writers

So, I did what I do a little too well - Amazon shopping! I researched options, including tablets, laptops, and Chromebooks. I had some experience with the Microsoft Surface Pro that I was able to use for day-job purposes at home. My experiences were not great. I was frustrated by how long it took to boot up - five minutes, sometimes more. The Surface from day one had connectivity/WiFi issues. When I took it from one location (and router) to another, it was next to impossible to connect to the internet. Long-story short, I knew I didn't want a Surface. Plus, it wasn't in my budget. 

I also started to consider that I might not want a Windows Operating System. Gasp! This was kind of a big deal because I've always used Windows. Here's the thing about Windows: It's slow, especially if you shut down your PC instead of simply logging off. It's slow to boot. It's slow to shut down. The endless updates. I guess I'm over it. 

The number one advantage of the Chromebook:

It's super fast - like blink-your-eyes-instant boot up and instant shut down fast. Yes, it's truly that fast! Why does this matter so much? My time, like yours, is precious and jam-packed with have-to-do's and want-to-do's. When I wake up early, before Daughter Two, I have limited time to write. Who wants to wait five minutes for Windows to boot up? Not me. The Chromebook runs Chrome Operating System. I'm all set up and typing away with my Chromebook on my lap-desk in less than a minute. Plus, I can use it anywhere, like in the living room, while I drink a cup of coffee or three. 

More Reasons I love this chromebook

  • Cost: It's about 200 freaking dollars with tax, folks! It does not feel or function like a cheap netbook or tablet. It's solid, well-made, and generally awesome.
  • Battery Life: The Asus Chromebook has 10+ solid hours of battery life. I use it for hours and have yet to get it under 75 percent. This means I can tote it back and forth to the day job without packing the charging cable. 
  • Mobility: The 10-hour battery life makes the Chromebook mobile, and its size helps too. At a little over two pounds, the Asus Chromebook is the perfect size. The screen is not huge. But you can zoom in if needed. As long as the lighting is good, it suits me just fine. 
  • Productivity: I've written every one of my blog posts on the Chromebook. Designed all of my graphics on the Chromebook. Set up and tweaked this website on the Chromebook. Set up my blog "dashboard" in WorkFlowy on it (future post). Without it, I'm not sure I would have even launched this blog!
    Chromebook Mobility + Long battery life + Ease of use = Productivity!
  • Keyboard: This might sound weird, but it feels good to type on this keyboard. I even prefer it to the full-size keyboard. The keyboard is plenty big and the keys have a nice solid click to them. 

Things to keep in mind

The Chromebook is different from a Windows-based laptop. It might not be right for everyone. As with any change, there will be some adjustments. The major ones for me were: 

  • Hard-drive space: It doesn't have a huge amount of hard-drive space (16 GB). I've moved my key files over to Google Drive. I can access them online anywhere, which is much more convenient anyway.  
  • Apps-based: To do certain things, you may need to install apps from the Google store. So, it's kind of like your smartphone in that way. I haven't installed much because I use it chiefly for writing, blogging, website maintenance, web surfing, and social media. I use Canva for Pinterest graphics, and it's an online platform. 
  • Chrome OS not Windows: This will probably be the biggest adjustment. But I'm managing just fine. Here's how:
    • Storage = Google Drive
    • Email = Gmail
    • Word processing = Google Docs
    • Spreadsheets = Google Sheets
    • Web browser = Chrome
    • Light graphic design = Canva or PicMonkey (haven't tried PicMonkey yet)
  • A couple of keyboard quirks: There is no delete key. I'm not gonna lie. I didn't realize this until I took it out of the box, booted it up, and started typing. I had a minor freak-out. How would I live without the delete key? How would I delete things? I almost returned it ya'll. (I'm so glad I didn't.) Settle down all you delete-freaks: There's a backspace key. And you can also hack your way to delete by pressing Alt + Backspace. Seriously, I don't miss the delete key, and I rarely need the hack.
    • There is also no caps lock key. ANOTHER HACK! Crtl + Alt + Search = Caps lock your heart out, Kanye's of the world! Then hit shift to turn it off, please. Again, I don't miss it and rarely use the hack. 
    • The keyboard is not back-lit. If you plan to type in the dark, like I do sometimes in the morning, this is easily remedied with an inexpensive USB-powered light.  
    • There's also no CD/DVD drive, and it's not a touchscreen.
Asus Chromebook Review for Writers and Bloggers

my exact set-up^^

I had to accessorize a bit to optimize the Chromebook for me. I got a USB-powered light for typing in low-light or no-light. (The light woks but I don't love it, and I only recommend products I love.) I got an extra large lap-desk to accommodate the Chromebook and mouse. I got a wireless mouse because I don't like touchpads and prefer a mouse. I got a mouse pad and a travel bag for the mouse. (I broke my last one by dropping it. You don't want the mouse to slide off the lap-desk either. It'll annoy the crap out of you.)

Bottom line

So, I didn't include the Chromebook in my list of blog set-up expenses. I actually bought it before I decided, on a whim, to start a blog. Though not technically a blogging must-have, this baby has easily quadrupled my productivity. I've been using the Asus Chromebook for about three weeks now. Not one single problem or moment of buyer's remorse. Let's say $200 well spent because I LOVE this thing.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments! 

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