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Sunday, 24 February 2013

IPads and/or Chromebooks

I have been spending a few hours this weekend looking at iPads and Chromebooks. I have run a pilot on a small number of iPads and played briefly with a Chromebook. I am no expert on Chromebooks, having had little exposure to them, so I wanted to see how they measured up when it came to iPads. It is a bit like apples and oranges really. Here are my findings so far.

“The iPad 4 and Samsung Chromebook 550 represent the “best available” models, respectively.

  • Boot times measured in seconds
  • Battery life of 10 hours (iPad) or 6 hours (Chromebook)
  • Weight of 1.5lbs. (iPad) or 3lbs. (Chromebook)
  • Limited access to the file system
  • Streamlined updates of the operating system, apps or extensions
  • Built-in cameras, microphones and speakers for video conferencing
  • Ubiquitous connectivity, thanks to WiFi or WiFi plus cellular data connections.” (Wolber, 2013)

wifi needed for certain appswi-Fi-only
encourage mono-taskingrun a single application - a web browser - complemented by user-added extensions and web apps
touch screen and voiceover (external keyboards available for a price)conventional trackpad and keyboard
changes orientation no orientation changes
back-facing camera: 5 MP, 1080p HD with video stabilization, face detection, flash
Front-facing FaceTime camera: 1.2 MP, 720p HD
front-facing camera: 153,600 pixels, VGA (640 x 480)
mobile Device Management of iPads with third party software
Google Apps’ control panel provides controls for management of Chrome OS devices
email and basic document editing, reliable and powerful mulitmedia creation with a variety of free and paid apps (no flash)
Advanced doc editing with pages, sheets with numbers and presentations with keynote. Alternative free apps available.
email and basic document editing, no multimedia except through chrome apps,
Alternative free apps available.
Microsoft Office, is not availableMicrosoft Office, is not available
Google Drive create and edit Docs and SheetsGoogle Drive works fully
no file managerfile manager
Easy Transition for Mac UsersEasy transition to chromebook for Google apps users.
multimedia creation tools in the form of apps readily available, usually for free but upgrades often for a price.

A stable internet connection is required to transfer any large files from an iPad elsewhere. Smaller files can be transferred through email.
Chromebook are ideal for those who work
primarily on the Web, not designer, developers or those creating multimedia projects. The necessary tools aren't available, can be found in the Chrome store but many are not terribly reliable, especially when a less than ideal internet connection is available.

Primary useage: write, send and receive email, work on google docs and other Web applications, play some games, and browse the web.
Working with one app at a timeWork by flipping between app tabs
The iOS is not internet dependent, most apps run without a network connection. No file manager is available.The linux based OS is designed for people who spend the majority of their time on the Internet.

The device runs apps through a browser and it comes with with media player and a file manager. That dramatically limits its utility when you're disconnected from the Internet. Some apps such as Google Drive Offline and Notepad will still run.
The iPad mini (starting at $329) is considerably smaller and lighter than the iPad, but lacks the “retina display” of the larger iPad.

Mini $329
7.9 inches screen
0.68 lbs
10 hour battery life

1.4 GHz Apple A6X (ARM-based) SoC (system on a chip), PowerVR SGX554MP4 quad-core GPU
Samsung built US$249 is half the price of the least expensive 10-inch iPad
Chromebook: 2.42 lbs, 11.4" x 8.09" x .69", 11″ screens and slower performance are available  such as the Samsung Chromebook at $249.
It weighs 2 pounds and measures 0.8″ thick.
16GB standard on board memory, 2GB of RAM, a USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 port, HDMI output, a .3MP web camera, dual 1.5w speakers and a 6.5 hour life expectancy of battery

1.7 GHz Samsung Exynos 5 Dual (ARM-based) SoC, ARM Mali-T604 quad-core GPU

A less-expensive  alternative is the Acer C7 which offers a conventional hard drive  and costs $199.

Google includes 100GB of online storage for up to 1 year, after  which a fee must be paid.
aluminum unibody construction and solid glassaluminum-colored plastic
iPad 3: 2048 x 1536 pixels
ipad mini 1024-by-768 pixels
1366 x 768 pixels,
Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technologyBluetooth 3.0
ipad 3 : 45.0 secondsChromebook: 9.1 seconds
Wake from sleep
Wake from sleep
RAM and Storage not expandableRAM and Storage not expandable, has built-in SD card slot for extra storage
Audio, Bluetooth, dock connector/LightningBluetooth, USB 3 (1 port), USB 2 (1 port), HDMI

“In a browser-and-app world, you should be able to seamlessly switch devices. The device matters only to provide access to data and an application. The data lives in the cloud; the application is either a browser or installed app”(Wolber, 2012)

“The perfect device is the one that does what you want it to do.”

In Summary

Any purchase of ipads and/or chromebooks should be based on their intended use of said devices. Both differ in many ways, and offer advantages over the other depending on their intended use. Similarities do exist, such as cloud storage, apps, powerful batteries 6-10 hours), bluetooth, the use of apps and cloud computing.

Understanding each devices limitations and strengths is vital when making a decision to purchase. For example, Chromebooks are not the best option for any work involving multimedia. Instead they are they are the ideal option for basic document (text,sheets, presentation) work, emailing  and other forms of communication as well as web browsing. They use internet dependent apps in most cases, so work best where the internet connection is strong. My experience with Chrome apps so far has been mixed. Multimedia apps can be slow and at times unreliable. I have found the same thing true for some of the basic Google Apps, such as Drive, Sites and even Gmail at times.  An investment solely in Chromebooks brings with it certain limitations. I would not want to attempt to run any class in which student work was dependent on Chrome store multimedia apps dependent on a stable internet connection. I think that generally teachers would find this a frustrating experience if they did not first understand the limitations of the device.

Ipads on the other hand will run word processing, presentation and spreadsheet apps independently of a wifi connection. They are the more powerful devices, but for a higher cost. They perform all the basic tasks as well as  excel at  powerful multimedia activities, all of this on just one device. They are the more complete solution, as they offer greater versatility, and are quality devices that will last for many years. The majority of students are familiar with how they work, and with the introduction of the ipad mini, the cost has come down considerably while and portability has improved.

Ideally a school might consider offering both of these powerful devices to teachers and students, budgets allowing. Once those planning the learning experiences, the teachers,  understood the strengths and weaknesses of each, they would be in a good position to plan and deploy lessons which optimise their use in learning experiences.

It is my suggestion that the school pilot a set of Chromebooks whilst providing teachers with a roaming set of mini iPads simultaneously.  We have piloted ipads successfully in ICT lessons as well as English and there is a great deal of potential for other subjects as well, assuming a sufficient number of devices were made available. In the case of a dual investment, teachers should receive a brief orientation session with the devices that would focus on how to best maximise the use of each in the educational setting.

Wolber, Andy. "Chromebook or IPad: Choose Your Post-PC Device Wisely." TechRepublic. CBS Interactive Inc, Dec. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. <>.

Sande, Steven. "TUAW Smackdown: Google Chromebook vs. Apple IPad, MacBook Air." TUAW. TUAW, 3 Nov. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. <>.

Steve. "Decadent Waste." Http:// Squarespace, 12 Mar. 12. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. <>.

"Why Choose a Chromebook or Chromebox? - Chrome OS Wiki." Why Choose a Chromebook or Chromebox? - Chrome OS Wiki. Google Sites, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. <>.

Wood, Joe. "Chromebook Caution." Web log post. JoeWoodOnline. WorldPress, 18 Mar. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. <>.

Julian. "The New Google ChromeBook Is Ready To Be Explored, Priced At $249-$329." DFRAGG. DFRAGG, 19 Oct. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. <>.

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