The Chromest Netcast #6 – Video – “The Top Ten Chromebooks!”

The Top Ten list of Chromebooks, Dr. Bill’s new mic: an experiment, some exciting Chromebook improvements coming soon, touchscreen Chromebooks are everywhere, but how well do they work?

The Chromest Netcast #6 on YouTube

Chromest Netcast RSS Video Feed

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The Chromest Netcast #6 – Audio – “The Top Ten Chromebooks!”

The Top Ten list of Chromebooks, Dr. Bill’s new mic: an experiment, some exciting Chromebook improvements coming soon, touchscreen Chromebooks are everywhere, but how well do they work?

The Chromest Netcast #6 on YouTube

Chromest Netcast RSS Video Feed

Chromest Netcast RSS Audio Feed

What About Touch-Screen Chromebooks?

I love my touch-screen Chromebook, so I think touch-screens on Chromebooks work great!

Touchscreen Chromebooks are everywhere, but how well do they work?

PC World – By; Chris Hoffman – “If only it supported more Android apps without hacks, this would arguably make Chrome OS a more capable Android tablet environment than Android itself. Chrome OS as a tablet would let you run multiple Android apps on screen at a time—something that isn’t possible outside of Samsung’s custom multi-window mode. Apple is adding this sort of multitasking to the iPad in iOS 9. But Google is still working on multi-window for Android, and that will probably land before every Android app can be installed on Chrome OS in a hassle-free way.

Is a Chromebook the tablet of your dreams?

Chromebooks—even ones that can transform into tablets—have more in common with transforming Windows PCs than they do Android tablets and iPads.

A touch screen is a nice bonus, allowing you to reach up to scroll on a webpage, zoom into a map with a pinch, or tap a link to click. Sure, you probably don’t want to do that all the time, but it’s nice to have.

But, as with Windows, Chrome OS is clearly a mouse-and-keyboard-first operating system. Just picture using Gmail on a Chromebook in tablet mode. You’re using the standard desktop website, but you’ll have to tap at it. Android and iPad users get custom apps that provide a richer touch experience complete with swipes and larger touch targets. This goes for many other websites, too. The web as a whole still isn’t optimized for touch.

Want to stay up to date on Linux, BSD, Chrome OS, and the rest of the World Beyond Windows? Bookmark the World Beyond Windows column page or follow our RSS feed.

But tablet mode can still be useful. Maybe you’re having a video chat via Google Hangouts, watching something on Netflix or YouTube, or sitting down to read practically anything on the web. Tablet mode could be comfortable, and—if that’s all you use your tablet for in the first place—you’re good to go. But Chrome OS also lacks the large app and game selection offered by Android and iPad. Sure, you can hack most Android apps onto a Chromebook, but most people won’t want to bother.

Touch-enabled and convertible Chromebooks have a great bonus feature, just like transforming Windows PCs. But Google hasn’t launched a Chrome OS tablet without a hardware keyboard—an acknowledgement that Android is still the best Google has to offer on a pure tablet. Google is following in Microsoft’s footsteps, with Chrome OS powering more ‘2-in-1’ convertible PCs. Manufacturers aren’t just adding touchscreens to Chromebooks anymore; Chromebooks like the Asus Chromebook Flip can transform into tablets. More Chromebooks with touch screens—including ones that can transform into tablets—were just announced at IFA 2015.

But how well does Chrome OS actually work on a touch screen these days? Let’s dig in.

Tapping and swiping

Google has gradually expanded Chrome OS’s touch support.

You have the same Chrome OS desktop—complete with windows—but now you can tap to click, two-finger tap or long-press to right-click, and touch-and-drag to select text or move things around. Pinch-to-zoom is supported on many webpages, as well. Chrome OS additionally supports a variety of swipes—swipe left to go back or right to go forward. Swipe up from the bottom of the display to show or hide the taskbar, which Chrome OS calls the ‘shelf.’

There’s also a ‘snap’ feature that allow you to quickly position windows to take up either half of your screen, and windows can be made full-screen if you’d like a more tablet-like environment.

You’re mostly viewing the web, of course—the same web you’d be viewing on a Windows PC, Android tablet, or iPad. But Chrome OS shares one big advantage with Windows: you get a full desktop web browser instead of a limited mobile one, complete with support for Adobe Flash and browser extensions. If you spend a lot of time in the browser on your tablet, a Chrome OS tablet might actually make more sense than an Android tablet or iPad.

Chrome OS has an on-screen keyboard, too. If your Chromebook supports ‘tablet mode’ and can transform into a tablet, rotating to put the Chromebook into tablet mode will automatically open the touch keyboard. That touch keyboard even has a handwriting feature, so you can enter text by drawing it with your finger, or a capacitive stylus, of course.

Chromebooks can run Android apps, with some work

Chrome OS also supports Android apps, with more and more Android apps being added to the Chrome Web Store alongside the ‘ Chrome apps.’ But, if you’re an intrepid geek, you can download almost any Android app and run it on your Chromebook with Google’s ARC Welder app. Most people probably won’t want to bother with this, but most Android apps can be made to work if you’re willing to do a bit of legwork.

If only it supported more Android apps without hacks, this would arguably make Chrome OS a more capable Android tablet environment than Android itself. Chrome OS as a tablet would let you run multiple Android apps on screen at a time—something that isn’t possible outside of Samsung’s custom multi-window mode. Apple is adding this sort of multitasking to the iPad in iOS 9. But Google is still working on multi-window for Android, and that will probably land before every Android app can be installed on Chrome OS in a hassle-free way.

Is a Chromebook the tablet of your dreams?

Chromebooks—even ones that can transform into tablets—have more in common with transforming Windows PCs than they do Android tablets and iPads.

A touch screen is a nice bonus, allowing you to reach up to scroll on a webpage, zoom into a map with a pinch, or tap a link to click. Sure, you probably don’t want to do that all the time, but it’s nice to have.

But, as with Windows, Chrome OS is clearly a mouse-and-keyboard-first operating system. Just picture using Gmail on a Chromebook in tablet mode. You’re using the standard desktop website, but you’ll have to tap at it. Android and iPad users get custom apps that provide a richer touch experience complete with swipes and larger touch targets. This goes for many other websites, too. The web as a whole still isn’t optimized for touch.

Want to stay up to date on Linux, BSD, Chrome OS, and the rest of the World Beyond Windows? Bookmark the World Beyond Windows column page or follow our RSS feed.

But tablet mode can still be useful. Maybe you’re having a video chat via Google Hangouts, watching something on Netflix or YouTube, or sitting down to read practically anything on the web. Tablet mode could be comfortable, and—if that’s all you use your tablet for in the first place—you’re good to go. But Chrome OS also lacks the large app and game selection offered by Android and iPad. Sure, you can hack most Android apps onto a Chromebook, but most people won’t want to bother.

Touch-enabled and convertible Chromebooks have a great bonus feature, just like transforming Windows PCs. But Google hasn’t launched a Chrome OS tablet without a hardware keyboard—an acknowledgement that Android is still the best Google has to offer on a pure tablet.”

Chrome OS Improvements On the Way

There are some neat, new improvements coming to Chrome OS soon!

Some exciting Chromebook improvements you’ll soon see

IT World – By: Swapnil Bhartiya – “Google’s continuous improvements to Chrome OS aren’t always hyped, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of a little attention.

Here are some of the neat features coming to a Chromebook near you.

Better full screen mode. If you have tried to play Netflix, YouTube or other such services in fullscreen mode, you would have noticed the ugly pop-up notification about allowing full screen. The Chrome OS team is working on a simplified UI that will have fullscreen mode be granted automatically, and if you want to exit fullscreen, there will be a bubble for it (or you can always exit full screen by hitting the ‘Esc’ key). This feature is currently in the Dev or Canary channel. To test it, just open ‘chrome://flags/#simplified-fullscreen-ui ‘ and enable the ‘Simplified fullscreen / mouse lock UI’ flag.

Better management of videos. It isn’t news to anyone that auto-playing videos, which are embedded throughout many websites, are extremely annoying. In an earlier version of Chrome, you wouldn’t even know where the sound was coming from. Then Google added a ‘speaker’ icon to the tabs which were playing such media. It was still annoying. Now, they are making it better and playback will not start unless that tab is in the foreground. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to play music or videos in the background: Once you bring the tab to the foreground, enabling the video, it will continue to play even when it’s moved to the background. This feature is available in the Dev/Canary channels.

Spell checking for multiple languages. This one is tricky. There have been instances where I had to mix various languages in the same story, especially when I was working on my novel. The Chrome OS teams are experimenting with spell checking multiple languages at the same time. If you are running the Dev/Canary channel you can enable the ‘ Multilingual Spellchecker’ flag here ‘chrome://flags/#enable-multilingual-spellchecker.’ And you can enable as many languages you want to use at ‘chrome://settings/languages’.

Some more GUI improvements. Those who are running the Dev channel of Chrome OS will notice a brand new UI for the Gallery app, which showcases new slideshow mode and image editing icons.

The network indicator has also received an update where a nifty Wi-Fi scanning indicator has replaced the old and annoying ‘Searching for Wi-Fi networks’ text.

Google is bringing the ‘Material’ design to Chrome OS, gradually. Dev channel users can now enable Material design on the download page. All you need to do is go to ‘chrome://flags/#enable-md-downloads’ and enable the ‘Material Design downloads’ flags.

If you are a Chromebook user, what do you think of these upcoming improvements?”

The Top Ten Chromebooks

The ten best Chromebooks you can buy

IT World – By: Jim Lynch -“Chromebooks have been burning up the sales charts at Amazon for a long time now, but it can be difficult for newcomers to figure out which model to buy. Paste Magazine has a helpful list of the ten best Chromebooks you can buy right now.

Luke Larsen reports for Paste Magazine:

Chromebooks have come a long way in the past couple of years, both in terms of hardware and software. In 2015, you have a lot of different options in terms of price point, size, build quality and configurations. In terms of software, Chrome OS and the Chrome Web Store have filled in a lot of the holes that used to exist in the experience of working entirely in a browser.

1. Google Chromebook Pixel

2. Toshiba Chromebook 2

3. Asus Chromebook Flip

4. Dell Chromebook 11 (2014)

5. Acer Chromebook C720

6. Dell Chromebook 11 (2015)

7. Acer Chromebook 15

8. Lenovo IdeaPad N20p

9. Samsung Chromebook 2

10. HP Chromebook 14

Must-have Chrome OS apps for your Chromebook

Speaking of Chromebooks, a redditor on the Chrome OS subreddit is getting a new Chromebook and wanted to know which apps he should install on it:

Notmuch asked his question:

‘My nine year old macbook is pretty much done (may it rest in peace) and I have an acer chromebook (13′, 4gb ram) being delivered today. I have an android phone so i’m kind of used to google’s platform. Any must-have apps I should download right away, or any other useful tips / hints i should be aware of? many thanks in advance.’

His fellow Chrome OS redditors responded with their app recommendations:

Jackalriot: ‘Better History because its interface makes it easier for me to find sites I’ve previously visited.

Flix Plus by Lifehacker for extra features and customization of Netflix.

Google Calendar (by Google) for an easy dropdown menu of my next calendar events. It’s also really nice to just be able to glance up to see how long until my next event.

Google Dictionary (by Google) for easily checking up on words I might not know, without having to leave the page I’m on.

Google Translate for easily translating words without having to leave the page I’m on, just as with Google Dictionary.

imgur Extension by Metronomik for fast and easy capturing and uploading to Imgur.

Magic Actions for YouTube to stop autoplay and always play in my specified quality.

Reddit Enhancement Suite for an enhanced Reddit experience, like user tagging, inline image viewing, live comment preview and new comment counter.

Spotify Web Player Hotkeys to control Spotify Web Player.

TechSmith Snagit for recording video of my screen.

If you only meant apps, and not also extensions, then it’s a rather short list: Caret for my various coding needs.

Chrome Remote Desktop for accessing my own Chromebook remotely, and provide tech support for my family.

Pixlr Editor as my lite-Photoshop. This is however just a glorified bookmark to their web editor.

Sunrise Calendar for my (you guessed it) calendars.

Spotify for music listening. Just as with Pixlr Editor though, it’s just a glorified bookmark. But it comes in handy, because I can pin it to my shelf.

I’d also like to throw in my support for /u/DavidA122 ‘s picks of h264ify, uBlock Origin and Pushbullet.

Chanixh: ‘Some more which I use : Google Cast, Hangout and Keep, The Great Suspender, Secure Shell.’

Zuxicovp: ‘Also want to mention Honey, for shopping online, and OneTab, for making it easier to manage a bunch of tabs. Also, Hacker Vision, which is the best night mode I’ve been able to find to make the web easier on the eyes at night.’

DavidA: ‘With you having an Android phone, PushBullet is something you should take a look at. It’s great for integration between your phone and Chromebook. uBlock origin is a great ad-blocker, and h264ify is a useful extension for YouTube if the videos stutter, which can be common sometimes.’

Mortenlu: ‘Alientube for youtube replaces youtube comments with reddit comments. Really good for finding relevant discussions.’

Prairiedock: ‘Every computer should have a text editor. (Google Docs is really a word processor, not a plaintext editor.) ‘Caret’ is hands-down the best for Chrome OS.’

Hrlngrv: ‘If you have some old 16-bit DOS games you’d like to play again, you’ll want DOSBox. There are extensions to mount DropBox and OneDrive so they’re available in the File app. If you use those for online storage, you may find these extensions handy. Finally, if you’re a US Xfinity subscriber, you may also want to install the Xfinity extension to watch TV.’

Crasbowl: ‘Last pass is an extension that stores all your passwords and even makes up passwords for you.'”