Monday, 19 May 2014

Chromebook Management

I'm writing this blog entry using our new Acer 720 Chromebook. It has greatly exceeded my expectations. Part of the reason for that is Google's Chromebook Management Console. We'd mentioned in a previous blog we were surprised by the Acer C720.

We are investigating the Acer notebook computer as a device to provide easy web browsing facilities for guests renting our holiday home in Wirksworth Derbyshire in England. Used in conjunction with the Management Console it seems the Acer 720 notebook computer will meet our needs.

These are the relevant features:
  • It is inexpensive compared to Microsoft Windows laptops;
  • It is fast and responsive to most usage;
  • We can remotely control who has access to the device;
  • We can remotely control what software is used on the device by user identity or group;
  • It offers browsing, email, word processing, spreadsheets, and Internet phone;
  • We can control what is stored on the device;
  • Data security is strong;
  • We can remotely control the browser homepage;
  • The software is automatically updated;
  • It has a keyboard;
  • It has a long battery life;
  • It boots up in less than 10 seconds;
  • We can centrally pre-load WiFi service Id's and passwords.
The Chromebook doesn't run Microsoft Windows software, but for most of our purposes we don't need it in the situation we are considering. There are solutions on the Chromebook system which allow the user to gain remote access to Windows PCs and Servers, but for the moment we are not looking into those.

We received notification from Google that the Management Console had been activated. Their email contained a link to some "get you started" instructions. We had a working system in place within 30 minutes. Supplementary information was easily on hand to answer any questions we had during the configuration process.

The mouse pad on the Acer uses some gestures we'd not encountered before, but they were easily mastered. While the mouse pad is fairly easy to use, my personal preference would be to plug in a mouse via the USB port if I was running a long session at a desk. For general office applications the screen resolution is more than adequate.

It is possible to play games and watch videos on the device, but this type of use is not really its forte. HD video playback was jerky, though the BBC Iplayer was fine. Youtube videos displayed okay.

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