Why I Returned My New Macbook Air and Replaced it With a Chromebook

As we enter the era of the server in your pocket, our habits of computer use are going to change. They already are. As I’m buying new products (I don’t get free stuff like some bloggers ;-)), I’m finding the things that used to be important in products just aren’t any more. The elements of the hardware ecosystem we each live in are constantly changing, and so are their importance in our lives. Yesterday I packed up the Macbook Air I bought last week and was so excited about, headed over to Best Buy, and returned it.

The thing is, I don’t hate my Macbook Air. I still love Mac products. They’re solid. They’re beautiful. The experience is smooth. The problem I kept coming back to however was for the price I paid (about $1300 with tax), the experience I was getting just wasn’t worth it. For that price I got the ability to run desktop apps like Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite, but the experience was sub-par for what I paid.

As I visited the store, I actually tried out numerous other notebooks and tablet hybrids. The Macbook Pro – a little more expensive, better specs, but not much better, and from my past experience it still is no workhorse machine compared to the standalone desktop workstation I have at home. It’s also a bit heavy for my preferences.

I looked at the Microsoft Surface Pro (I didn’t like the RT, per my earlier review) – I was closest to buying this one. I also looked at a few other tablet/laptop hybrids, including the Lenovo Yoga and another one from Dell. The thing I kept coming back to though was that the only thing I really gained from a traditional desktop OS like Windows 8 or OS X was Microsoft Office, and the ability to record my Youtube movies and edit my photography.

I thought long and hard about those positives. For Microsoft Office, if I really need to do any editing that I can’t do in Google Docs (my publishers, including Pluralsight, all use Microsoft products for their templates), or even if I need to use Exchange and Outlook for some reason, Microsoft now has online products for that which support what I need fairly well. Even without that, I have a Windows 8 desktop at home that already has significant power to it (I built it myself), and I can run all of those at home, as well as do all my editing.

Trying to edit on a notebook or tablet, no matter what experience, I’ve never had a good experience, and that includes my Retina Macbook Pro that I had in a previous life. Notebooks just weren’t built for heavy publishing, video, photo, or audio editing capabilities. Heavily fortified workstations were built for this, and I’m willing to take that work home when it needs to be done. In fact, I may even switch to the new MacPro at some point to do this.

Which brings me to the Chromebook decision. For $250 (I got the Samsung model 303C12), I get a decent machine with almost the same specs as my old Macbook Air. It focuses solely on the web, allows me to add a SIM card for constant internet connection if I want to (I just use my cell phone connection for that), and comes with a 3 year warranty if anything ever goes wrong. Apple only gives me 1 year! Oh, and did I mention the $250 price tag? I’ll also add that so far, the battery life on this thing, even with the newest Macbook Air model, far out-paces my previous Macbook Air before dying (that’s because it only needs to connect to the web!).

Will Chromebook be for everyone? Remember, I also have a workstation at home that I’ll be using for my recording, editing and publishing tasks that the Chromebook can’t cover. It doesn’t solve everything. Also, my wife still has her Macbook Air if I ever need a Mac for something. So I have a fallback unlike others.

However, if you don’t need to do serious photo editing, don’t need to do serious video editing (Google has solutions for both of these through Youtube and Google+ if you’re more amateur), and don’t have specific publishing needs (remember, even Microsoft has online versions of Office as well as Exchange, so even this isn’t necessary), this machine is just perfect. And for someone like me that just needs a machine “that works” as I go out on the road, this Chromebook is amazing, and only 1/20 the cost of the Macbook Air! I can proudly say so far that this is the best notebook I’ve ever owned. And for only $250 you should try it too.

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Jesse Stay has been a pioneer in the space of social media marketing since before it was called "social media marketing". Originally a software developer, Jesse built a tool called SocialToo.com which helped brands like Pepsi, Brittany Spears, and MC Hammer grow their social media presence, and before he knew it brands were coming to him for help to grow their presence in very unique ways. His tool was featured on almost every tech blog and even mainstream news sites like New York Times, Techcrunch, and Mashable. Jesse also spent a brief period working FOR Facebook, Inc., helping them to build out their documentation to help companies integrate Facebook Connect into their websites and mobile apps. Jesse took his skills and helped the LDS Church kick off most of its social media programs. While there he helped launch the award-winning "I'm a Mormon" marketing campaign with global reach worldwide in the millions of views and followers. Jesse established new global programs at the Church to further grow its reach amongst both members and non-members of the Church, working with every department of the Church, also including entities like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Brigham Young University. He also helped the Church navigate its voice and presence during the Mitt Romney Presidential campaign due to the significant attention the Church was getting at the time. He established the social media advertising techniques and strategies employed at Deseret Digital Media growing over 20 million fans across their news properties in just 6 months, and was featured on AdWeek for his success. As founder and Principal of Stay N Alive, Jesse has developed very unique techniques in social media advertising to help organizations grow presences, within months on minimal budgets, into hundreds of thousands of highly relevant and engaging fans and followers. He designed and teaches social media advertising at LDS Business College. He has helped grow sales, and has a belief that yes, you CAN measure social! Jesse has been featured as one of 10 entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter (next to Biz Stone and Ev Williams, founders of Twitter) by Entrepreneur magazine. Jesse has written 9 books on the topic of social media marketing and development, including Google+ Marketing For Dummies and Facebook All In One For Dummies, and eats, lives, and drinks social media with a personal combined presence of over 600,000 followers on his personal social profiles.

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