LG Chromebase all-in-one PC review
If you’re in need of a new desktop computer you already have the usual choices – do you get a powerful laptop? Do you look in to building your own or order a custom-built PC? Do you just get an off-the-shelf machine? How about an all-in-one? There’s also another option thanks to the LG Chromebase.
You might be familiar with the inexpensive range of Chromebooks out there. These laptops are easy on the bank balance and focus around web browsing and utilise Google’s Chrome operating system.
LG reckons that the same ease of use and budget-friendly approach will work equally well in a desktop all-in-one (AIO) scenario and so, we have the LG Chromebase – the all-in-one PC that uses Chrome OS as its operating system.
LG Chromebase specifications
The whole system is based around a pretty clear and bright 21.5-inch 1080p (1920×1080) IPS display.
The system packs Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, and an Ethernet port. There are also three USB 2.0 ports in the back (two of which are instantly gobbled up by the keyboard and mouse), a USB 3.0 port on the side, and an HDMI-in for external devices.
Now, talking as someone who has built a machine that includes a Core i5 4670K which I’ve overclocked to 4.7GHz (dialled back down from the 4.9 I got it stable at) and 16GB of RAM, the Chromebase’s engine doesn’t sound like much. The thing is though, it is actually easily potent enough to push the Chrome OS along.
Storage-wise, you get a 16GB SSD, which might never be filled given that the system relies heavily on cloud storage for files.
LG Chromebase and Chrome OS
Testament to LG getting the specs right for the Chromebase, this machine is actually quite fast.
It boots up in just a few seconds, something people with their operating system living on SSD soon take for granted, and then it asks you to log into your Google account and that’s it. You’re good to go.
Having already listed the specs the reason for the computer’s speed is more down to the minimalist operating system.
Chrome OS will feel familiar to anyone who has used a Windows PC before. The interface on the Chromebase is very much like the Microsoft environment and sports desktop wallpaper and a task bar but there’s one main difference – your desktop will never become a dumping ground for folders, files and shortcuts as nothing can actually be saved to it.
Everything is run entirely from the browser, which has a lot of benefits. Namely, since the browser doesn’t need a lot of horsepower, the hardware is very inexpensive but it also means that you cannot work offline.
There are plenty of apps available for both work and play. Plus, users can take advantage of Google and Chrome’s many cloud-centric features, like browser tab sharing across devices, automatic updating and cloud storage for music, photos and other files. Google offers 100GB of Google Drive storage for free for 2 years with the purchase of a Chromebase.
There are a number of things to get used to if you’re moving from a Windows machine and intend to use the Chromebase for more than social media updates and browsing the interwebs. For instance, word processing, spreadsheets and other such tasks will now be handled by Google Docs. You can grab other apps, free or otherwise, or of course pay for a Microsoft Office subscription.
Skype is kicked out in favour of Google Hangouts and forget about downloading iTunes. If, like me, you have and Amazon Prime account then you can still access streaming video and music through its web players and the Spotify web player is obviously still accessible.
Having an Android phone I already have my music library on my Google Play account so I could get to my tunes straight away via the Google Music Player. Games are also limited to in-browser titles and whatever you pick up from the Chrome Web Store.
Chrome OS is good for what it is and will no doubt suit some users, especially those with fairly basic needs. Don’t expect to be editing professional videos or photos, although there are some basic Google apps that will help you tweak your captured media to share with family and friends.
Using the LG Chromebase
Along with the screen/computer bit you get a mouse and keyboard in the bundle.
The stand requires six screws to fit (there’s a combined cover/cable management cap to hide the visible ones), then plug in an ethernet cable (not supplied), mouse and keyboad, hook up to the mains and switch on.
The Chrome OS keyboard does take a while to get familiar with. First I put this down to being because I’m used to a fully mechanical keyboard but then it struck me that the Chrome board doesn’t have any function keys. The top row of keys are either replaced by Chrome-specific operations, represented by icons which may or may be obvious as to what they do, or operate general settings like brightness and volume.
It seems that Google has purposely looked at what Windows and Mac boards do and then decided that they’ll place functions elsewhere. For example, on Windows and Macs (I believe) F5 is refresh – here on the Chrome keyboard it’s where F3 would sit. Caps lock, where is caps lock? Nope, that’s the Seach key. Oh, silly me, I need to Alt + Search.
These are minor niggles and, as I think the Chromebase would be ideal as a kid’s or your old’s first computer, they would probably be more flexible with the keyboard as they are less likely to have all those Windows/Mac shortcuts embedded in to their minds.
Video chats through Google Hangouts, of course, were pretty good and the Chromebase’s built-in 1.3MP webcam dishes out a good and clear picture, even in low-light.
The speakers are rear-firing and a tad weak. The volume being controlled by buttons on the AIO’s bezel and then there’s local Chrome volume control via the keyboard. Ramping up the volume just brings more distortion and when you turn the output down the speakers are still tinny and uninvolving.
I solved this by using the Chromebase’s Bluetooth and then had it running through my hi-fi via the Arcam miniBlink I had to review. I’d recommend either using headphones, running some powered speakers from the Chromebase or adding a Bluetooth speaker if you intend to watch videos or play music from it.
YouTube and Netflix videos played without issue and the screen was decent enough to sit and watch a film without thinking how inexpensive the system is.
LG Chromebase conclusion
The LG Chromebase is a decent all-in-one PC and is equipped with a good large screen.
It performs well and, when you consider that it costs less than a base model iPad Air, is certainly keenly priced.
Any time you go out to buy new hardware you have to consider what you really need it to do. Will you be emailing, web browsing, checking your social networks and perhaps some light word processing and not much more? Are you looking for a family-friendly PC? I can safely say that the Chomebase ticks those boxes.
If you have a Google Play and Gmail accounts already then you’re pretty much 75% ready to dive into Chrome OS.
As I mentioned earlier, I could see the Chromebase sitting as a child’s first ‘grown up’ PC, or perhaps a machine for your parents/grandparents to use to chat with family and send off emails. I could even see it being used in places such as hotels/hostels as a low cost way of giving guests access to the internet. The LG Chromebase could also work as a low cost office PC.
If you’re coming over to Chrome OS from a Windows or Mac background there are some adjustments to be made but it is something you’ll get used to.
Ignoring Windows and Mac computers for the moment, the Chromebase does do exactly what it promises to be able to do. This is something which cannot be ignored. It also does it for an incredibly low price.
LG Chromebase UK price
The LG Chromebase is available in black or white and you can get one for £256.94 from Amazon.
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