Face it. One iPad per child can pricey for many school districts—just ask Los Angeles. What to buy instead if budgets are tight? Some districts have snapped up Android tablets.
But there is another choice, made more attractive by Google’s K-12-related software and related activities—Chromebooks. Check out the experience of Barbers Hill Independent School District in Texas.
Chromebooks, essentially laptops built around Web browsers and cloud apps, come with keyboards. But they also come with another issue. Are they really good enough as e-readers?
I owned an Acer Chromebook a while back. As both an e-reader and a Web browser it was less than optimal, at least for me. The screen contrast just didn’t cut it. And I preferred the tablet form factor, not the laptop one, while reading.
But today’s Chromebooks are better, and some like the idea of the keyboard for taking notes while reading for school or work. Of course others might say they retain more if they write their notes by hand. Depends.
Of special interest might be the ASUS Chromebook C100 Flip shown here and selling for $229 on Amazon with 2GB of RAM and for maybe $30-$40 more with 4GB. The latter is out of stock. The C100 has a touch screen and, as its name suggests, you can use it as a tablet as well as a laptop. The resolution of the 10.1-inch screen is only 1280 by 800, but Amazon reviewers still felt it was adequate for their purposes and one even praised it as “sharp” and “beautiful.”
I’d be curious what TeleRead community members felt about the C100 and other Chromebooks as e-readers. Own one? First-hand impressions? Using it for ePubs, PDFs, just what exactly? Your favorite PDF software for the Chromebook? Are you relying Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader (the Chrome flavor)? Do you feel crimped by the Chromebook’s heavy reliance on Google’s own cloud?
What Chromebook apps—such as possibly Readium and dotEPUB and Cloud ePub Reader with Drive—do you recommend for reading ePub books? Have you tried MobiApp121 Reader, ePub 3-capable? How about the Google Books reader, into which you can load your own nonDRMed books?
And what are your own thoughts on Chromebooks for K-12? Or how about Chromebooks vs. Android devices, for which many more e-reading apps seem to be around.
Meanwhile check out Do Chromebooks make good ereaders over at ITWorld.com and also the thoughts of Reddit readers, not all of whom like the screen.
Detail: Nowadays you can buy not just a Chromebook but also a Chromebox, a tiny desktop. My wife is tickled with hers. Carly earlier was using a Linux machine. With the Chromebox, just as she would with a Chromebook instead, she doesn’t have to worry about installing software updates. Google does everything. What’s more, the video card equivalent on her particular model is rated for 1920 x 1080, enough for e-reading, although she favors her Nexus 7 for that.
Update: Here’s some pro-Chromebook shopping advice via ZDNet.