I have been a huge fan of the IDEA of ChromeOS since its inception, and the first few netbooks first started coming to market. I have owned two ChromeOS based machines since, neither of which lasted very long. The reasons were: no/limited RAW image support and poor quality displays. But ChromeOS is a constantly evolving organism, and it has come a long way since my last foray into that world.
This week, I purchased my third ChromeOS based machine, and I am hoping that the third time can be the charm. The reason for the purchase was that I have been doing a lot more traveling for work (trade shows for SLR Lounge, etc.) and I needed something that would facilitate my basic needs away from home. This last year was an overall bad experience with fighting my iPad and Bluetooth-based keyboards to “make do” while on these short business trips. So, I decided I needed an actual mobile computer.
I looked at the Macbook Air, but they were way more than I wanted to spend on something that I would use a couple times a month at the most. I liked the Acer S7 machines, but, those too were more than I would have liked to spend for a machine that would honestly sit on my desk while I used my desktop 95% of the time. Chromebooks seemed to be my best option, both in size, and cost – but I was wary based on my past experiences.
After a lot of searching, I found the machine I am typing this article on today. The Toshiba Chromebook 2, a 13.3” Chromebook with a 1080p IPS display, 4GB of RAM, a 2.16Ghz Intel N2840 processor, and a 16GB SSD. Aside from the grossly overpriced specimen that is the Chromebook Pixel, this seemed to be one of – if not the – best Chromebook on the market currently.
What made me pull the trigger on this model over other high-spec Chromebooks, was the IPS display. There were other models with 1080p screens, but they were not IPS – and being a photographer, I know the virtues of an IPS display. The Toshiba Chromebook 2 also only cost me $300, a much easier pill to swallow than the PC and Mac options I was considering.
As a writer for SLR Lounge, my processing needs are fairly basic. I need to be able to take an image – most likely a RAW file since I am lazy and don’t want to change my camera to Jpeg mode – Crop/Resize it, maybe touch up the vibrance or modify the exposure a bit, and then throw it up on my post. Luckily for me, there are several RAW processing options on ChromeOS now, and while none of them can match Lightroom, they are sufficient enough to do what I need. Plus, with Adobe beta testing a ChromeOS streamed version of Photoshop, it could be soon that I am doing my processing with Photoshop itself.
So Can ChromeOS Be A Photographer’s Friend?
This can be a complicated question to answer. But the answer in its simplest form is: ‘It depends on the type of photographer you are’. If you are an extremely mobile photographer who needs to edit whole shoots on the go, store them all on your machine, and need the absolute best editing options available – then no, ChromeOS is not, and likely will never be, your friend.
That said, if you are more like me, the kind of photographer who does most of your work at home or on a desktop, who needs a machine that can process an image or two on the go for quick uploading to social media, or your blog, or something along those lines, then yes, ChromeOS can very much be your friend.
I am not going to stand here and tell you that ChromeOS will do everything you want it to do, or be able to match your PC/Mac mobile devices in every way, but if you sit down, and are honest about what you need from your mobile computer, you may be surprised with how many boxes the Chromebook actually ticks.
I am happy to say that I was able to meet my personal needs with the Chromebook 2, and I was able to do so for much cheaper than I would have been able to on other systems. So this Chromebook is very much my friend.