Laptops: Speed Isn't Everything but it Helps

11/14/2016 02:13 pm ET Updated Nov 14, 2016

 

Everyone around here has been bragging about their new Google ChromeBooks. so we decided to compare one against one of the brightest stars in the Windows 10 universe.

The folks at Acer send us a Chromebook 14 to play with, which we have sitting here next to a Vaio S notebook. Let the comparison begin!

Chromebooks have pretty much captured the elementary and middle school market, with every child, from the age of five to 12, begging mom and dad for one of these machines. And there’s a good reason for this - - - they’re relatively inexpensive, are easier to use than a Mac or PC and they’re amazingly fast.

The Acer Chromebook 14 ($299.99) is a beautiful, aluminum encased machine that had us saying “I’ve gotta have it” right out of the box. You could say it captured our hearts before our minds.

Because, it’s a Chromebook - - - and doesn’t have to load all sorts of drivers and other junk while booting up - - - we were greeted by the home screen as soon as we hit the power button.  And the display rivals any 1080p unit we’ve used.

We put it through its paces - - -  loading and closing apps, trolling the Web and multitasking. The response time was amazingly fast, basically because the Chromebook uses apps and Internet tools instead of loading bulky Windows programs from hard drives, which take time to load all of their components.

Unfortunately, this is also a huge drawback. Chromebooks are great for those of us that can be satisfied with the tools the Google Chrome operating system offers. Basically, think of it as an Android phone with a bigger screen and a keyboard.

Schools favor them because all apps such as Google Docs are much easier for children to use than full-powered word processing programs. The same can be said for other apps that generate spreadsheets, edit photos or create charts and graphs. And the Chrome browser is one of the cleanest and fastest browsers available. There are also tons of games, but don’t try to use it to play the latest version of Call of Duty.

Also, everything is accessed and stored via the Internet on cloud drives or other designated areas. This eliminates the need for a hard drive. The result? Instant access to what you need.

A big mistake lots of folks make is to think they can replace their Windows laptop or Mac with one of these amazing machines. That ain’t happening, folks.

Chromebooks are aimed at those of us that are uncomfortable around technology and just want to check emails, write an occasional blog, browse the Web and play games with their friends.

Other key features include:

  • Up to 12 hours of battery life
  • A high resolution touch screen
  • A webcam that supports HDR imaging
  • MiMO wireless technology for faster, more reliable connections to the Internet
  • Four gigabytes of RAM
  • A dual-core Intel Celeron processor

The Vaio S ($1,099 base price) is a lean, mean Windows machine.

This is a powerful laptop for those that need to compute on the go.

Although it’s not as versatile as the much more expensive - - and elaborate - - - Vaio Z, which we reviewed in May, the Vaio S is a good, stable and powerful Windows PC for those of us that don’t need a touchsreen or tablet/computer combo.

Its 13.3-inch display shows everything off in full 1080p HD and, unlike many high definition notebook displays, there’s no deterioration around the edges of the screen.

It also packs 8 gigabytes of RAM and a Skylake i5 Intel Core processor (which can be upgraded to an i7 for a few additional dollars). It includes a 128 gigabyte solid state drive, which means that you will probably need to purchase an external hard drive if you need to store tons of data or use a lot programs that aren’t Web based.

The paucity of internal storage shouldn’t be a problem as many of the major software providers, such as Adobe, Microsoft and Symantec, move their programs to the Cloud.

The Vaio S also screams “connect me” with three USB 3.0 ports, and HDMI port plus the usual VGA, Ethernet and headphone/speaker ports.

Other key features include:

  • It weighs less than 2.5 pounds
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • An SD card slot
  • Intel HD audio
  • Up to nine hours of battery life
  • A tilted keyboard
  • A magnesium alloy case

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