Monday, August 15, 2011

iPad 2 vs Chrome Book

I’ve had an iPad 2 for a few weeks now and I love it. I’ve had a Chrome Book for a week now and I like it. There you go, that is the conclusion of the review. But not quite. There is a lot of cross over in functionality between the two devices, such as apps, email, web, Facebook, etc, however they both lend themselves to different scenarios.

The Chrome Book has two key features missing from the iPad;
  1. Multiple user accounts
  2. Chrome web browser
Multiple user accounts is, IMO, vital for a shared device - not just security but also convenience. I love how the log in (almost) seamlessly integrates with Google web applications and things like Google Cloud Printing. I say “almost”, because a couple of times I have had to enter a password when I would have expected it to know I was already logged in with that Google account.

The Chrome web browser is, without doubt, the best web browser by far and allows full access to all the modern web features like Google Docs and Facebook. The Facebook app on IOS is OK but to get full functionality requires the web version. Google Docs is very very cut down on IOS Safari - so as to be too limited for anything other than the most basic note taking, unless you just want to read a document in which case it’s perfectly good. This review is being written using Google Docs on the Chrome Book.

The Chrome Book is missing a major application though; Skype. This will be a show stopper for some people. The iPad does not have a proper app, only an iPhone app but it works well enough. There is always Google Video but it’s just not got the market penetration. Google chat can also now make actual phone calls like Skype.

My father was able to log in and use the Chrome Book fairly easily but then complained when he was unable to write in French in Gmail as there is no way that he or I could see to enter letters such as e-acute. I ended up writing the email in Docs in English then translating to French then correcting the French then copy and pasting in to Gmail. My father reverted to his iPhone for further French emails.

The Chrome Book has a proper keyboard and tracker pad and a reasonable resolution screen. I also have a keyboard stand thing for my iPad. They are similar in use. I find myself wanting to touch the screen on the Chrome Book instead of use the pad as it would be quicker.

The Chome Book boots in about 5 seconds and it almost takes me longer to type my password than it takes to go from login screen to being 100% ready to go. And I don’t mean the Windows-pretend-you-have-the-desktop-but-actually-come-back-later-after-a-coffee. So both iPad and Chrome Book are ready to use instantly without being concerned about booting.

I’ve just been on holiday for a week and mostly used the iPad and Chrome Book rather than a PC, but today I was back at work and within minutes of using my Windows 7 desktop PC I was frustrated with “Window is not responding” and other crap like the AV telling me it needs to update then when I shut down Windows it had 13 updates to install. Bah! I tell you - things like the iPad and Chrome Book are the future. People won’t put up with this for much longer. That said, I won’t be giving up my Windows PCs for a long time until good games like Portal 2 and WoW work on these devices.

The Chrome Book has multiple external storage options and expansions but the iPad has none. I’ve not found I needed this though.

The Chrome Book runs a little warm for my liking. Mine is a Samsung Chromebook Series 5 and according to top has 4 cores. After a few mins a small fan starts up and pumps out hot air on the left. That would be nice in winter but in the summer it made me put it on a table not my lap. The iPad only gets warm from my hot sweaty hands.

In terms of speed, the iPad seems just a little bit faster. Both can play HD youtube no problem or anything I throw at them. But I think the iPad cheats by only doing one thing at a time where as on the Chrome Book, all the tabs are running at the same time.

Both have similar and very long battery life. Hours and hours of usage.

I was able to get the VPN on the iPad to work straight away with my Smoothwall firewall but the Chrome Book is currently missing this functionality although this is due out soon.

IOS does not support much in the way of automatic proxy settings and is quite picky with the proxy.pac URL in that it has to be a fully qualified address. So for visiting iPad users you will need to use transparent web filtering. I’ve not tested the Chrome Book yet.

The Chrome Book has no integration with my Apple TV (as you'd expect) so when I find something interesting or want to view it on the TV, I can't.

My iPad is configured for remote wipe via Google Apps and MobileMe. I've not found a remote wipe option for the Chrome Book yet, but I'm also not storing anything on it.

If I had to keep just one device - it would be the iPad. It does nearly everything and I hope one day it has a better browser. I am keeping both though!

Chrome Book is ideal to give to one’s parents who keep having to reinstall Windows because they get a virus or don’t update. Fully automatic updating in the background. Love it. Chrome Book is more secure and appropriate for a work place. iPad will keep being useful in a car when travelling and where there is no wi-fi.

iPad is for fun and a little work. Chrome Book is for work and a little fun.


  1. Have you tried looking to see if there are any deadkeys like on good old X for making funny foreign characters?

    Also, if you are having the problems with the hot sweaty hands I suggest you look into web filtering sooner rather than later.. ;)

  2. No I've not but apparently other people are having the same complaint. The best implementation of handling non-English letters on an English keyboard I've seen is on RISC OS, but no one else seems to use that method. Which is alt-letter alt-MODIFIER where MODIFIER is : or \ or / or > etc. And I bet you can already guess what they do.

    I did not try alt-XXX where XXX is a number.

  3. Languages are supported, learn how here:

  4. Nice review.. do you have any info on how to set up iPad VPN to Smoothwall? The Smoothwall knowledgebase has never heard of iPad or iPhone :-/ I must say though the knowledgebase is incredibly poor. I've got over 80 IPSec and L2TP tunnels configured for road warriors on my Smoothwall Advanced Firewall and would appreciate pointers on setting up VPN on our iPhones & iPads. Thanks