Chromebook Conundrum

So, My Lovely Bride™ is in need of a new laptop. She’s been using my old laptop, which I replaced nearly four years ago, when I bought my current machine, so it is quite frankly time for an upgrade. We talked about this extensively, and since she isn’t doing computer gaming anymore (we used to play some massively multiplayer online roleplaying games together, such as “Lord of the Rings Online” and “Rift”), the specs of this laptop need not be all that beefy.

Basically, if it can handle having a lot of tabs open for her hobby (looking up our family’s ancestry), that is plenty. So my suggestion was to go with a basic Chromebook. I have one that I bought earlier this year, for less than $200, which would more than fit the bill, when it comes to technical specs. She tried it, and only had a couple of complaints.

  1. The 11″ screen on my Chromebook was hard for her to use, since her current laptop has a 15″ screen.
  2. No backlit keyboard. She does a lot of web-surfing while in bed, or at least at night with the lights off, and she needs a backlit keyboard to be able to type accurately.

Now then, you might think these would be simple problems to resolve, right? Well, about that…

Finding a Chromebook that has a 15″ screen isn’t all that hard, to be honest. Finding new ones from this year, so you get the most of the 6.5 years worth of Chrome OS updates is a little harder, but still, could be done. I wish manufacturers were up front about when a particular model they produce no longer will receive updates, but that’s just how Chromebooks are, I guess.

Anyway, now find one with a backlit keyboard, that is also reasonably priced. From my research, this became very tricky, because – while there were 15″ Chromebooks with backlit keyboards available – they were either

  1. About $200 more than a comparable model without a backlit keyboard, for some reason.
  2. Not a 2022 model, although some were labelled as such, but were actually much older.

The most egregious thing I found was the older Chromebooks being sold as 2022 models. There were some Acer models (for example) that I could track back to 2019 and 2020 being clearly sold as 2022 models, despite purchasers reporting otherwise, after finding out they were being short-changed of future updates by several years. These were new stock, but built years ago, and being sold as though they will receive the full amount of updates as a 2022 model, when they clearly will not.

That’s tantamount to fraud, in my opinion.

Regardless, I did find at least one Asus Chromebook that fit the bill for my Sweetie’s needs, as modest as they are… and it was only $500. But for that amount of money, why not just buy a basic laptop that runs Windows, instead? It would be roughly the same price, have the features she needs (as limited as those needs are), and we wouldn’t have to worry about updates to the operating system having a short shelf-life.

Problem: She hates Windows. In fact, if my wife never used Windows again, it would be too soon. personally, I don’t get her aversion to the OS, but it’s her computer, so she decides on such things.

Okay, before anyone asks…

  1. Apple laptops are off the table. Too expensive.
  2. Linux is off the table. Too stressful to learn, she’s tried before.

… and yes, I know Chrome OS is related to Linux, that’s besides the point. Look just roll with me here…

Anyway, now I’m looking at refurbishing her old laptop, that still works fine, as a stopgap measure until we figure out what to do about getting her something new. Yes, it’ll still run Windows 10, but it is also free (since we already have it). The main reason she moved on to her current laptop (my old one) was that her old one has a cracked hinge… which I have since fixed, as long as you don’t wrench the screen open too fast.

Currently I’m using her old laptop with Pop OS, a Linux-based operating system, and just for web-surfing. It would be pretty easy to slap Windows 10 back on it, and get her set back up thereon in no time. But she still needs a new laptop, because that hinge won’t last forever, and she deserves something that isn’t a hand-me-down computer.

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