Android and Chrome OS

April 9, 2020 – Prior to 2020, I would have never considered using either Android or Chrome OS. I’ve been using MacOS since it was invented. I bought my first Mac in 1985 after working a summer job at Apple in Fremont. I bought a $2495 Mac, the very first Mac with 128Kb of memory for $750 with my employee discount. I’ve been using Macs ever since. I got my first iPhone, a hand me down iPhone 3 when the iPhone 4’s came out in 2010. I’ve been upgrading every other year. However, after shooting my iPhone X in the rain for 30 min it leaked and became unusable. The Apple Store employee in Taipei said I could trade it in on a refurbished one for $600 USD. No way since you can just buy a refurbished iPhone X for $600 directly from Apple so he was telling me my phone was worthless. When I got back to the US, I bought a Google Pixel 3a for $299 and love it. Transitioning to Android was no big deal. It was intuitive enough that I just started using it and didn’t even have to watch any youtube videos, read any directions, or even struggle with trying to figure it out.

What I like about the Pixel 3a

  1. $299 price – I was ready to pay $700-$800 or more to upgrade to an iPhone 11 Pro, but when my iPhone X broke, I lost the trade in value of $300-400 so I looked for an alternative. I’m not willing to pay $1100 for a phone.
  2. Headphone jack – I hate the fact that the iPhone 7-11 and Pixel 4 removed this.
  3. Fingerprint sensor – I hate the fact that the iPhone 8-11 and Pixel 4 removed this.
  4. Lighter than an iPhone.
  5. Latest version of Android which after 3 months of using seems just as good as iOS. Screens calls and easily lets me block callers. This was set up by default.
  6. Not the Pixel 3a itself, but I signed up with google fi and so far it’s pretty good and cheaper than all other service providers.

What I don’t like:

  1. No way to text anymore from my Mac. You need an iPhone to text from a Mac. The workaround is to buy a Chromebook and then texting works fine.
  2. The text and google docs icon are so similar I will mistakenly press the wrong one. They are both blue, a bad idea. The workaround is to separate them. Put them on different screens.
  3. Notes on the Mac is not compatible with a Pixel since it’s Android. The workaround is to just use google docs. I also hear Evernote is pretty good.

So in summation, if you are looking for a new phone, I highly recommend the Pixel 3a and google fi as your service provider. With the money you save, you can buy a Chromebook for $200-$600 and get texting back! I looked at the Pixel 4 and didn’t buy it since it doesn’t have a fingerprint sensor, headphone jack, and was $800. I suppose the camera is better but to lose the fingerprint sensor and headphone jack just to get a better camera plus pay $500 more didn’t seem like a good deal. If the Pixel 5 has a fingerprint sensor, headphone jack, and better camera I’d consider it.

Google fi

I’m using google fi for the first time and paying $20/month plus $10/Gb. Since I pay for data now, I just wait until I get wifi to check email, stocks, surf etc so I end up paying about $30 a month. It works internationally too without a sim! Wow. So far I’d recommend it.

Chromebook

In Feb 2020 my nephew’s 2012 15″ MacBook Pro broke. I think the video card pooped out. I bought him that MacBook several years ago. Anyways, I didn’t want to drop over $1000 on another used one and saw this HP 14″ Chromebook at Costco on sale for $199 from $299. Seems too good to be true. I bought it and after a month of using he said the only complaint he had was “It’s a little slow.” Pretty good for $200! The package includes a mouse and sleeve too. I ended up buying one and after using it for a couple of days, here’s my review:

What I like about the Chromebook

  1. $199 price – Cheaper than an iPad.
  2. Light
  3. Has 2 USB-A plugs. Not even the $2000-$3000 MacBook Pro has this
  4. Has 2 USB-C plugs
  5. The keyboard feels better than the 2016-2019 15″ MacBook Pro costing $2000-$3000
  6. Chrome OS is pretty intuitive
  7. I can text since I have an Android phone!

What I don’t like:

  1. Chrome OS, couldn’t figure out how to change a filename! Not like a Mac, will figure it out soon.
  2. The K key of the keyboard is a little sticky, have to push harder than the other keys to make it work.
  3. So the screen is not as high quality as a MacBook Pro, the viewing angle is pretty narrow and if not looking at the correct angle you’ll see all sorts of visual weirdness.
  4. Keyboard is not backlit, this is a disappointment but the 15″ model has one.
  5. Has a Micro SD slot instead of an SD slot.

So I think it’s the best value out there. If you use google docs and android apps it works great. Not sure about Photoshop editing, but I do that at home on my Mac desktop. I plan to get the 15″ version that has a backlit keyboard.

Workflow – When shooting on a trip, I can use a cable to attach to my camera, copy the images from the camera to an external hard drive. Sort and cull. Then upload the jpegs to google photos and the RAW files to my google drive. That’s my plan. Should work fine. I don’t really need a MacBook Pro unless I plan to Photoshop on the road.