Chromebit: The Writer’s Ultimate Pocket-Sized Budget Machine

A few months ago, along one of my late-night Google adventures, I came across an article by Matt Gemmell titled A Laptop for Writers. The article is essentially a review of the (then new) 12-inch MacBook, a very author-oriented one, mind you.

Gemmell describes the MacBook as an “ideal laptop” for writers, authors, journalists, and the like. For the most part, that statement is true. As long as a laptop, like the MacBook, is easy to chuck into a backpack and has a battery that lasts all day, most writers can consider it a worthwhile machine, as long as they don’t need to professionally edit video or play the latest games.

While Matt certainly has a point as to why the Macbook is a great machine for almost any writer, I believe that I have found an equal, or if not, an even better choice. Ladies and gentlemen, this “one size fits all” device is the Google Chromebit.

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No, the Chromebit isn’t an oversized thumb drive. In fact, it is quite the contrary. This tiny, candy-bar sized stick is a fully functional Chrome OS computer. And even though it lacks a built-in display, keyboard, and mouse, ASUS and Google truly hit a home run with writers in many ways. Although the stick PC is a relatively new technology, there is a need in this world to bring more attention to it. Hopefully this article will explain exactly why I say this.

“So, what is a stick PC,” you may ask yourself. “And why should I care about them?”

To really explain the meaning of stick PCs, I’ll give you a short, simple, and typical example. Let’s say you are in the market for a new desktop, but your budget is tight. Unfortunately, not many affordable yet powerful workstations exist online. Not only are you required to pay for the machine itself, but in most situations you’ll need to purchase a keyboard, mouse, and monitor as well. Or you could go for an all-in-one computer, and possibly pay even more. And don’t even get started looking for laptops! In some cases, one laptop might cost significantly more than an entire desktop setup.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, stick PCs, as I see them, combine the portability of a laptop with the keyboard-display flexibility of a desktop, at a very cheap price. Most stick PCs are priced around one-hundred to one-fifty U.S. dollars, which is much more affordable than the latest MacBooks. That may already seem like a good deal, but the Chromebit is even more affordable, starting at just $85.

For the surprisingly low price, the Chromebit comes with a pretty useful set of features for writers. First up: the hardware. In my opinion, the best feature of the Chromebit from the outside is the complete simplicity of the design, making it easy to use for everybody.

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As you can see in the picture above, the Chromebit just has a USB port on one side, and a small power-in port (not pictured). The device also has an HDMI-output built into the enclosure, which is its best technical feature. If you already have a monitor or HDTV in your home, you’re all set to use a Chromebit.

Of course, if you don’t have a display in your possession you will still have to purchase one to use the machine. However, the true beauty of the HDMI-out functionality is how it allows the Chromebit to be even more portable than a laptop with its small footprint, while still having access to mechanical keyboards and truly ergonomic mice. The Chromebit can even be plugged in to any display with an HDMI port, which allows for convenient writing on foreign travels by connecting to the hotel room TV, or presenting an article to your boss on the conference room monitor.

Speaking of travel, losing your computer while going abroad is a huge pain to any writer. Besides having to pay hundreds, or even thousands of dollars for a new PC, you’ll also lose all of your work, which is awful for everyone. Google Chrome OS, the Chromebit’s operating system, is based around the web, allowing for all of your writing to be automatically backed up to the cloud. And if that wasn’t good enough, the super-affordable price tag on the Chromebit makes it much easier to cope with a lost device.

Even with the added accessories, the Chromebit still has a great value. As of writing this post, Amazon.com has the Chromebit listed at just $112.98 bundled with a Logitech Wireless Keyboard+Mouse combo. If you ask me, that’s a much better deal than the baseline Apple 12" MacBook ($1299) or the starting price of the Microsoft Surface 4 ($899).

The reason I think the majority of writers would enjoy using the Chromebit as a writing device is because of how the device is made purely for the necessities. It doesn’t need a lot of storage or memory, because the entire operating system is based in the web browser. Chatting with friends, watching videos, and writing great novels is smooth and slick on the Chromebit. Even the size and weight of the computer, along with the lack of ports, indicates the simplicity and usability of the machine.

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The Chromebit compared to my Pebble Time. They are both of a very small form factor!

Although the older cousin of the Chromebit, the Chromebook, is already a cheap and versatile platform for the writing enthusiast, the number of different uses and setups for the Chromebit make it a device for any writer to consider. Heck, even as a second computer from my MacBook Pro, I find myself coming back to it just as often!

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