My wife uses my hand-me-down Macbook Air (mid 2013), which she received when I bought my new(er) Macbook Air in early 2015 (wow, that went fast!). Hers is getting a bit quirky running updated OS, and the trackpad has been erratic responding to clicks since forever. So, we are near the point that a new laptop will be needed. She uses it exclusively for web browsing – no word processing or spreadsheet or anything. Maybe stores some photos downloaded from her cell phone. Hasn’t used even half the 120GB flash storage.
Being my frugal self, I can’t see spending $1000 (plus the 7% Commonwealth of PA extortion for the privilege of purchasing it online from another state/country) for a new one – 90% of the use is for online solitaire or jigsaw puzzles, with the occasional email or web search. So, I investigated Chromebooks, and found a reconditioned Acer Chromebook 14 with 32GMB flash storage, 4GB RAM, and a 14 inch full HD 1080 IPS screen for $155 shipping included! It arrived and I have been exploring it now for about a week.
I am impressed! The all aluminum case resembles the Mac’s stylishness. The screen is large, sharp and bright, way better than the old 13 inch Macbook Airs and awakens from sleep instantly. Pages also load instantly. It is easy to use. However, all this, as best I can tell, is dependent on my continuing (at least nominally) my gmail account and using the Chrome browser and Google’s search engine. I am invited to sync everything like payments and passwords across accounts and devices. No thanks. From what I have read, one can search using DuckDuckGo as I do on my Mac and can install and browse with Firefox, but both seem to function with extra hassles and cannot be made defaults. I am not surprised by this.
My most important question for the more learned of Ratburger is: say I use this machine to access my Protonmail account. I enter my username and password; would I then, in effect hand these over to Google? Does using Chrome, in effect, eliminate all privacy by making everything accessible to Google? This enterprise, I regard as an adversary – a self-appointed censor and manipulator of public opinion and news. I believe it to be inimical to individual liberty and free speech, as evidenced by the film The Creepy Line. One of the contributors to that film, a respected academic psychologist and researcher (and no conservative) has scientifically documented Google’s manipulation of search results and, for his efforts, had his accounts and all stored material disappear!
As a result of this and other reports, I have attempted to reduce my Google use and footprint. In addition to getting an answer to my question about usernames and passwords becoming available to them, I ask: can I use this excellent machine with an operating system other than Chrome? Would that defeat the seamless usability? This convenience is desirable – not essential – to me as an average-ability computer user, but it is essential to my wife – a self-described Luddite.
Thank you for answers to my questions, as well as any other thoughts or observations.