Category Archives: Chrome OS

How to disable and re-enble some Chromebook Touchpads



Do you have a Chromebook? They’ve beccome popular, especially in schools and businesses. The simplicity and pricing make them appealing. They do work a bit differently, though. There are some tricks to get used to and we have one for you today,

On a Windows computer there’s frequently a button that turns the trouchpad off and on. Quite often it’s an F Key in conjunction with ALT. However, Chromebooks can be unique in this case as they work in different ways.

Why would you want to do this? Personally, I did it because my wrists brushed the pad while typing and the cursor would jump into places that were done. I’d find myself typing a sentence in the middle of a previous one.

One common method for disabling the touchpad is by use of a software-hardware combo. Start via software  you”ll need to First, you need to enable an experimental flag named “Debugging keyboard shortcuts” at chrome://flags/#ash-debug-shortcuts.

Now we’ll move onto hardware. This is also a quick and easy step. Simply hold down Shift+Search+P and the touchpad will go off. Reverse the key press to turn it back on. It’s a simple process once the flag is done, and that’s a one-time deal the first time.

It’s that simple and you’re on your way to working on $150 laptop. Talk about saving some money.


Turn Nearly Any Display into a Computer with the Google Chromebit



ChromebitGoogle has been busy expanding its Chrome-branded line of products with the latest item being its new Chromebit. The Chromebit is somewhat similar to the Chromecast, Google’s low-cost video streaming stick. Both devices are about the size of a candy bar, both devices connect directly to a TV or digital display thru an HDMI port. But the Chromebit is more than a simple video-consumption device.

Pair a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse with the Chromebit and you’ve got an instant computer. Check e-mail, surf the web, stream YouTube videos and more. The Chromebit is in contention for the world’s lowest-cost computer. The stick is set to retail for $85.00 (this of course doesn’t cover the cost of mouse, keyboard, display, and Internet connection).

The Chromebit is powered by a Rockchip processor and comes with 2GB RAM, and it relies on Google’s Chrome OS. It’s hardly a powerhouse computing system, and it probably won’t replace your trusty desktop, laptop, or tablet computers. But it’s still an impressive achievement in small-form factor computing and could be incredibly useful to institutions that need to quickly fill a computer lab on a budget. Also, Chromebit could be useful when traveling, due to its compact nature and the fact that it’ll work with any HDMI-enabled display.

The Chromebit is not currently available for purchase. It’s unclear as to when the device will officially be on the market.


Lantronix Prints From Android and Chrome at CES



Lantronix LogoThere are times when only hard copy will do but anyone who has tried to print from a tablet will know that it’s not always easy. The main ecosystems from Apple and Google have their own printer strategies with AirPrint and Cloud Print respectively but support is spotty at best. Several printer manufacturers have gone so far as to create their own printer app which really is a pretty poor state of affairs.

Into this gap steps Lantronix with their xPrintServer Cloud Print Edition, the first Google-certified Cloud Print server which lets Android and ChromeOS devices print wirelessly to network and USB printers. Sweet.

xPrintServer

The unit is about the size of a smartphone and requires no additional software downloads or printer drivers. It’s simply a case of connecting the device to the network and it automatically finds the printers on the network, making them available to users. The xPrintServer Cloud Print Edition supports any device running Google’s Chrome browser, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, PC or laptop. Apparently there are over 310 million active users of Chrome, so that’s quite a few people who might want to print. Business users of Google Apps are supported too. Details of the printers supported are available from Lantronix’s website.

This new xPrintServer joins the existing Home and Office Editions which provide print services for iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad.

The Cloud Print Edition sells for an MSRP of US$149.95 and will ship at the end of February 2014. Pre-orders are being taken now and potential customers can sign up at lantronix.com for more information and availability. Of course, if you are at CES, you can pop round to their stand for a quick demo.


Philips Hue Chrome App



Hue Personal Wireless LightingWhile researching the Philips Hue Android apps, I discovered that currently there is a single Hue app for Chrome. It’s called Hueful and while it’s fairly basic, it deserves a mention as (a) it’s the only app on Chrome but (b) it shows that Chrome can support this kind of hardware-oriented app. Previously I would have discounted Chrome from being an option but Hueful works fine on my Chromebook.

Hueful isn’t a very advanced Hue app, being limited to setting colours of selected lamps and colour cycling. Sometimes lamps need to be told twice to take on a setting but they usually get there in the end.

Hueful

 

Hueful is free from the Chrome store.


Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 Review



Wireless mice are commonplace these days but many only work with their own brand wireless transceiver, which restricts their use to devices equipped with USB ports. Less common are Bluetooth-based mice which have the potential to work with any Bluetooth-equipped unit, including Android and iOS tablets, potentially making them much more useful. On review here is one such mouse, the Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000. Snappy name, but let’s take a look.

The 5000 is fairly typical of notebook mice being smaller than a typical desktop mouse at only 9 cm long and about 5.5 cm wide. People with large hands may find the mouse is too small but for occasional use with a tablet or notebook, it’s fine. I certainly wouldn’t want it as my main mouse as I can’t really rest my hand on it, but this is all subjective and some people may find it perfect.

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Looks-wise, it’s not a Microsoft Arc or a Logitech Ultrathin, but it’s not entirely unattractive. This is the version with silvery-white buttons and dark gray body; there is a version with these colours reversed too. The silver matched my Samsung Chromebook rather nicely but the colour does vary with the light.

Two Duracell AA batteries power the 5000, which are supplied in the packaging and Duracell’s make a welcome change from the generic AAs that usually accompany remote controls and other battery-powered accessories. There’s an on/off switch on the bottom to conserve power when not in use. I’ve been using the mouse for about a week and I’ve yet to replace the batteries.

To pair the mouse, there’s a second button on the underside that needs to be pressed for a few seconds to put the mouse into a pairing mode. After that, the mouse should appear in the device list of whatever computer is to connect to the mouse. I successfully paired with an Android tablet, a Windows 8 tablet and a Chromebook. I imagine that it will work with iPads and other iOS devices but I didn’t have one at hand to test.

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In use, the 5000 works pretty much like any mouse. It’s an optical mouse with a laser motion tracker so resistance will depend entirely on the surface in use. There are four buttons: left, right, middle and “back”, which is next to the main left button and can pressed by your thumb to take your web browser back a page – you can see it in the top picture. Great if you are right-handed, but a waste of time if you are left-handed. The scroll wheel has a bit of stiffness to it but I like that as it prevents accidental scrolling.

Overall, the Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 is a good mouse but not a great mouse. It’s nothing special but there’s nothing wrong with it either (except for the back button only being useful to right-handed users) . The 5000 is available from all good retailers for around £25.

Disclaimer: this was a personal purchase.


HP Chromebook 11 Review



chromeSeveral years ago I purchased the original Chromebook that was made in conjunction with Google and Samsung. So when I requested a review unit of the Chromebook 11 made in conjunction with Google and HP I was excited to see where they where taking the device.

The HP Chromebook is remarkably lite weight, which in my opinion was really smart of HP this feature alone adds to the selling factor. The delta between carrying a tablet and the Chromebook is minimal as it weighs in at just 2.3 pounds.  The screen resolution comes in at 1366×768 which is adequate for the 11.6 inch screen. The Chromebook is made out of plastic that you can order in a variety of colors, with a metal support frame underneath. The lid flexes a little bit if you open it from a corner but not so much that it would worry you.

The keyboard is a very soft touch and actually not that bad, it is slightly recessed but is ok. I have seen a lot of other keyboards on more expensive computers that where worse.  The biggest detractor to me is the touch-pad it was driving me crazy for the first couple of days till i got used to it.. You can always plug in a mouse but I opted not to. With a price tag of $279.00 they have found a great balance here in construction, price and performance. The performance is fine, and even handled multiple tabs opened on the browser and worked fine with the 10-12 extensions I have installed.  The unit I reviewed only had WiFi as a option although you could also connect via Bluetooth which should be a consideration for anyone wanting to buy one. While it will work with no internet connection it is best when connected to the Internet.

It comes with Two USB Ports, a MicroUSB for charging (Same as most cell phones) VGA Webcam & headphone port. You can connect an external monitor to it via the MicroUSB port supporting HDMI, VGA, and DisplayPort video. I actually charged the Chromebook with my cell phone charger one evening which was kinda funny. They do include a charger and cable for it.  Sadly there was no SD Port which is disappointing so you will have to use flash drives to off-load anything. It comes with a 16gb SSD drive so on-board storage like previous versions is extremely limited.

Overall battery life is great 6 hours of usage. I streamed a couple of movies on Netflix on a single charge with 10-15% to spare. This is nice improvement over the Samsung that I still have that is a couple of years old.

I am a geek and I like it when the barrier to entry is lowered and I feel the Chromebook 11 has done a nice job in providing an affordable alternative for folks that still want to have the feel of keyboard and are comfortable working in the cloud. This was a loaner unit so I will have to decide if I want to purchase one as I have gotten quite attached to it over the past week.


First Look: HP Chromebook 11



Earlier this week, HP announced its latest addition to the laptop family, but this time, instead of Windows 8 or 8.1, the little  notebook is running Chrome OS.

The HP Chromebook 11 sports a Samsung Exynos 5 dual-core ARM chip, 2 GB of RAM and a 16 GB SSD. It also has a webcam, full-size keyboard, 2 USB ports, digital speakers, an 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 display, Micro-SIM slot and charges via Micro USB. The whole thing weighs in at just 2.3 pounds.

The little Chromebook retails for $279 and can be purchased now from the Google Play store. For a first look in images, scroll down to view all of the pictures.

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