Next Chromebook…the C720

With the damage, Mom earned the new replacement, instead of the kid that broke his lappy, and kid got mom’s “old” one. We decided to up hers to one of the new, flashier C720’s. (She didn’t need, nor want the P model- no use for the touchscreen, and the shorter battery life it come with.)

So first things: the graphics are MUCH more crisp on the 720. Significant upgrade. It also has a more powerful, but still low voltage processor. It also has the smaller 16GB SS HDD. Much faster boot, but less storage. I got the 4GB version, but once I got it, I learned that the memory is soldered on, and not upgradable. The HDD has no such limitation, but is a NGFF SSD, and not a SATA, like the 710s.

I found a 128GB NGFF disk on Amazon for ~$100. It swapped easily, and the Chrome repair tool flashed it with ChromeOS in about 5 minutes. Very impressed with the Chrome software.

Even better was the new firmware- it supports USB and Legacy boot loaders. Meaning- I can now install Chrubuntu next to ChromeOS, and it’s only a keystroke at boot (Ctrl+L  … L for Legacy) to select linux- and a keystroke (Ctrl+D …for Default…or just wait the 20 seconds for timeout) to boot to Chrome. A separate keystroke (Ctrl+U….for, well, duh…) boots to the USB bus. Much slicker process. Legacy boot also supports booting to a SDCard, which also expands storage. I’ve got a few 64gb SD Cards, so 128GB SS + 64GB SD is reaching a reasonable size.

The CPU/RAM combo makes Ubuntu usable, but not exactly a speed demon. I can run photo editing software, and games, but running more than one large application will slow down the system significantly. Video editing is possible, but almost as slow as using Youtube or some other online editor.

It’s thinner and more sleek than the C710, but the downside is it definitely feels flimsier than the older model.

It also loses several ports- it’s only got 2 USB, the full size HDMI, 3-way audio mini-8 (that’s a standard headphone jack, people), and the SDCard slot. It loses the VGA out, a third USB and the ethernet jack. The network jack I can understand, with wireless and all, but sometimes you just need a 10/100/1000 line. The VGA I get, too, as it still has HDMI. I don’t like the loss of the USB port, but they try to make up for it by making one of the two remaining ports a USB3 jack. That does lessen the sting. However, the dealbreaker for me was the SDCard port.

The SDCard on the 710 was similar to ones in a camera- it slides all the way in, and has a click-in, click-out mechanisim, where when it’s in use, only about 1/16″-1/32″ of the card is exposed. The click-in/out mechanism is recessed, so you have to use the very tip of your finger, or thumbnail to eject/seat the card. It keeps it clean and out of the way. It means I can insert a card, and throw it in a laptop bag and not worry about the card.

On the 720, the card port is a friction port, no click-in/out, and it leaves almost a full inch of the thin, flimsy, (did I mention thin and flimsy?) card exposed, outside the frame of the laptop. If you leave a card inserted and put it in a bag, you *will* break your storage stick, or the port, or both.

For the wife, it wasn’t a deal breaker, so she seems plenty happy with it. Being able to upgrade the storage internally made the SDCard less mandatory- being stuck with the 16GB SSD would have been unbearable for me.

However, I still wanted something more powerful….and Google provided. The Pixel.

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