Having got to grip with the tools and the command line last month this month I've been getting my daily drivers and applications working which means getting the Applications I need to use and connectivity back home working.
The market for the high-end Chromebook is ripe right now stoked by Googles Pixel Slate there are several devices out there
With the addition of the Linux subsystem to ChromeOS having the extra power is essential for peak performance.
While Google is pushing the Slate as the hopeful iPad killer, and in doing so has improved the OS for keyboardless operation with ChromeOS 70. Its another manufacturer who is providing the current premier (and cheaper) ChromeOS experience.
HP got to market first with a ChromeOS powered tablet, the HP Chromebook X2
Unlike Google the HP X2 comes with a Keyboard as standard (backlit), in the UK at least the HP X2 is based on an Intel M series chip, 8 Gb RAM, 64Gb of Storage and a 12" screen. This all comes in at £799 which is a lot cheaper than a similar configuration including keyboard for the Pixel Slate.
The Device is a tablet 2 in 1, not a fold over 2 in 1 (Like the Chromebook Flip)
This configuration in my mind works a lot better for my personal needs as I always found the Chromebook Flip annoying when in its flipped over tablet mode and never really used it as anything more than a small laptop
While the X2 (at time of writing) doesn’t come installed with ChromeOS 70 it took about 2 minutes for the update to kick in and provide the updated tablet Interface.
A hugely welcome update
So what do we have here?
We have a powerful machine that runs ChromeOS and operating system based on Google’s Chrome browser. The OS supports as should be expected now Android apps provided by the Google App Store. The apps will display in what’s best described as Phone mode or full-screen tablet mode.
The Android implementation isn’t perfect and still seems to have issues using external SD Card storage, it is, however, getting much better and the list of Apps I use (Outlook, Flipboard, VNC, Bitwarden, Youtube Music etc) all run great on the device.
The other recent addition to the ChromeOS system is a Linux Subsystem which is based on Debian Linux and lets the user run Linux apps within a container on ChromeOS called Crostini
Crostini is the umbrella term for making Linux application support easy to use and integrating well with Chrome OS. It largely focuses on getting you a Terminal with a container with easy access to install whatever developer-focused tools you might want. It’s the default first-party experience
This is a huge leap forward for the OS and while its still in its early days I’m running MS Visual Studio Code, Git, Firefox, and loads of Linux command line tools perfectly fine however like Android App implementation access to SD cards isn’t yet available however is on the roadmap for around version 73 stable of the OS.
With this incredibly powerful operating system, with a huge catalogue of both Android and Debian apps and a solid hardware platform HP have created a fantastic platform.
Chrome OS benefits from low user overhead, it has a lower user learning curve than Windows or Mac OSX, updates just happen and you enable what you need, if that’s just the core browser based OS or the Android or Linux apps.
There is an argument that without the internet a Chromebook is a pointless device to which I would argue having watched many users over many years can be said for most consumer devices.
The HP hardware is very solid, it feels well built, it’s not aluminium based more a hard plastic which feels nice.
The X2 sits nice on my lap while typing, the balance is right and the keyboard is really nice to type on. Not a Surface bendy wobbly experience.
It’s a fanless device and is silent while not generating heat (well in the past week I have not had it burn anything)
So yes, it’s expensive it’s designed to be as a laptop for a power consumer looking for a better experience than the Windows 10 devices. The additional Linux subsystem provides power users with another option for applications and as a package it’s cheaper than the Google Pixel Slate with a keyboard..