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Chromebook Suggestions

I have seen tips on not bringing a laptop on a trip, but a Chromebook. I am not familiar with those, so could someone help me with what to buy or what to look for? My husband usually carries his laptop and our next trip that is staying home. We have ipads, but thought we might like something else to take. Is a Chromebook about the size of a ipad or is it just as big as a computer? (thinking of the packing part too).

Our last trip I carried the 2017 Italy book and I don't want to do that again. Will plan to download any books so that would help with weight.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!!

Posted by
1759 posts

Chromebooks are simply very lightweight laptops that use Chrome OS as their operating system. So you are entering Google's world. As Windows and Apple machines have become lighter over the past few years, I can't think of any advantage of buying a Chromebook (except cost).

Will the ipads not suffice? And, you know, one of the wonders of this travelling lark is not being connected to the pernicious internet.

Posted by
2353 posts

My husband & I both have acer chromebooks - LOVE them! Everything I do is web based so I have no need for disc drives or other things. It has an HDMI port so I can hook up to my TV for streaming video if I want. It has a full keyboard and can fold up to use as a tablet as well.

Posted by
114 posts

Interesting! I did not know any of this! When we have traveled in the past, each night my husband would take the pictures off the camera and put them on his computer. Is that a good use for the Chromebook vs an ipad?

I really appreciate the information!

Posted by
1759 posts

I don't upload photos on my laptop - but rather sync them to a cloud service. So, you would connect the camera to the ipad and the photos could go via wifi into Apple's iCloud photo library. With a Chromebook they can go into Google Photos. So there is a move away from saving files directly onto one particular device and into cloud based services such as Google Photos, Microsoft OneDrive and Apple's iCloud; there's also Dropbox and Amazon are getting into the act too.

It really depends on who makes the devices you use and what services you decide to use. Do you have smartphones?

Posted by
114 posts

We do have smartphones, so I am thinking maybe it would be best to stick with our ipads.

Posted by
1759 posts

As you have a smartphone then any photos you take on it can go into iCloud (for iPhones) or Google Photos (for Android) directly via wifi- no need for cables; it happens automatically.

Posted by
2811 posts

If you have ipads and smartphones, I don't see why you would need to buy another device for traveling. Several years ago I bought an Asus netbook, which is good because of its size and weight, but not particularly great overall. Still, I continue to bring it, even though I now have a smartphone.

Posted by
17653 posts

any photos you take on it can go into iCloud (for iPhones) or Google
Photos (for Android) directly via wifi- no need for cables

But if you don't have Wifi (or a more expensive Cell iPad) - no can do. Or can you do it with Bluetooth?

Seems you have an iProblem.

My camera has an SD card that fits into the card slot on my ASUS pad. After I review and sort the pictures on my pad, I can save them to a flash drive with the USB port. No need for cables OR Wifi.

I love having a portable computer with USB and card slots (also a attachable keyboard so I don't have to deal with the fake one on an iPad). I'd take a netbook before I'd take an iPad.

Posted by
5435 posts

You can of course also get a bluetooth keyboard to use with your iPad, making it a little easier to use . . .

I just did a trip to the States where I traveled only with my phone. It was absolutely fine but sometimes I got tired of thinking of doing emails on the tiny screen. I bought my friend a bluetooth keyboard for her phone and should have bought one for myself! It was nothing fancy or sophisticated, and would be light to carry, but would make that task easier when I felt like using it!

Posted by
8607 posts

I'll second the use of a folding bluetooth keyboard.

I used to bring an asus tablet with connecting keyboard. I switched to a mini android tablet. I'll use the onboard keyboard for bits of typing--like responding on forums--and take the bluetooth keyboard out for larger projects.

I use this one:

Iclever folding bluetooth keyboard

When folded it's not much bigger than a smartphone.

Posted by
5435 posts

Frank II, I really like the look of that one! Thanks for the tip.

Posted by
30957 posts

Cindy,

Here's everything you ever want to know about Chromebooks - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromebook

I believe they rely heavily on internet connections and without that the functionality may be limited. My preference would be to stick with a Netbook or iPad.

Posted by
1169 posts

Lee - you can physically back up phone photos with either flash drives like iXpand or through small wifi USB drives. No internet required.

Posted by
163 posts

For the purpose of transferring pictures from a camera to your iPad you can use what is called a Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader. They are $29 on the Apple website. I have used it in the past with success.

Posted by
622 posts

I've owned and traveled with a Chromebook. Finally gave it away because I also have an 11" MacBook Air which I now travel with instead. Here are some things I've experienced, with a little background info first.

I'm an enthusiastic hobby photographer, and though I don't lug a huge bag full of photo gear on trips abroad, I do travel with at least one mirrorless digital camera and a few lenses. I shoot photos in RAW format, and although I'm working at getting better I still shoot a lot of photos. I don't expect any hotel wifi to have the speed to allow me to upload all those large digital photo files to cloud storage while I'm traveling. I want to back up the photo files from my cameras' SD cards every night so that I have an extra copy of the files that I carry separately (in a pocket or different bag, etc.), in case of damage to or loss of the SD cards/cameras.

I got a Chromebook in early 2013, and really liked it. Light form factor, great screen and keyboard, and with a tiny solid state hard drive. In fact, my camera's SD cards have as much, or more, storage capacity as the Chromebook's hard drive. The Chromebook is not itself a storage device. However, I used the Chromebook on a two week 2015 trip through the UK, both to access the Internet and to back up my photo files. The backup worked this way: the Chromebook has a slot for the camera's SD card. It also has USB ports. I slipped the SD card into the slot and connected an external hard drive to a USB port on the Chromebook. Then I used the Chromebook to copy the photo files from the SD card to the hard drive. You don't need an internet connection to do that, by the way.

I liked traveling with the Chromebook because it was small and light. And, if it got lost, damaged, or stolen, it wouldn't be a huge loss. It had no sensitive info on it, and it wasn't expensive. If I weren't a serious photographer with a need to back up lots of big photo files, I would have left the Chromebook at home and just brought my iPad (and probably a portable bluetooth keyboard) instead.

One of my favorite uses for my iPad mini, is the Kindle app. And one of my favorite uses for the Kindle app, is to have travel guides at hand while traveling, vs. carrying whole books or even photocopied pages. I can also store notes and info on the iPad about travel arrangements, reservations, etc., for easy offline access while on the go.

Cindy, looks like you've got the travel guide problem solved with the iPads. I don't know about your husband's photo backups. I wouldn't assume your hotel wifi will be robust enough to handle uploads of lots of photo files to cloud storage. He may need some kind of hard drive backup, and the Chromebook + small external hard drive would be one solution.

Posted by
345 posts

The backup worked this way: the Chromebook has a slot for the camera's SD card. It also has USB ports. I slipped the SD card into the slot and connected an external hard drive to a USB port on the Chromebook. Then I used the Chromebook to copy the photo files from the SD card to the hard drive. You don't need an internet connection to do that, by the way.

I use a similar backup procedure. Started with a netbook, now with a tablet, but never with a Chromebook. Next is to replace the external hard drive with several large SD cards. Less weight and bulk, and less worry of a head crash.

Posted by
5435 posts

I think this is key, to never assume that the hotel's WiFi connection is going to be robust enough to handle uploading hundreds (or thousands!) of pictures to the cloud. Of course, it can always happen that you end up at a hotel that does have excellent wifi, but more often than not, it's just middle of the road.

Posted by
622 posts

I use a similar backup procedure. Started with a netbook, now with a
tablet, but never with a Chromebook. Next is to replace the external
hard drive with several large SD cards. Less weight and bulk, and less
worry of a head crash.

I didn't mention it in my post above, but the external hard drive I use for photo backups when traveling, is a solid state drive. It's a 512GB external SSD drive, USB 3.0, and I appreciate its ridiculously small size (as compared to a regular external HD) and as you mentioned, reduced worries about a crash. I've also used 64GB USB 3.0 "stick" or "thumb" drives for photo backup on the road, but I don't have a lot of faith in their durability.

Posted by
345 posts

Yes, an external SSD drive is great. But several SD cards take up even less room, and I won't be putting all my eggs in one basket. I can skip backing up all together and just keep the photos on the cards.

Posted by
622 posts

Yes, an external SSD drive is great. But several SD cards take up even
less room, and I won't be putting all my eggs in one basket. I can
skip backing up all together and just keep the photos on the cards.

Oh, I see. Your earlier post referred to replacing the external hard drive with SD cards, so I thought you meant you would be backing up to SD cards instead of a HD. Now I get it.