The Thanksgiving Holiday and ensuing shopping madness delayed our Samsung Chromebook Plus (SCP for short), but we are on the trail now! Now that we have taken it out of the box, it is time to do the initial setup. Make sure it’s fully charged or connected to AC power so you don’t run out of power in the middle of it.
It took me about 1.5 hours to do all the setup tasks, but I was also taking notes and multi-tasking while doing this. I haven’t done a Chromebook setup in at least four years 🙂 One thing to remember before you get started is that the first Google account that logons to the Chromebook is automatically designated by the computer as the owner. You cannot change it unless you do a factory reset. So make sure you decide that before getting started!
I logged on a Guest first and then with my Google account. I don’t know if this caused it, but on my initial login, I didn’t show as the Owner (I couldn’t make changes to the “People” section). After rebooting it for the first time, the Ownership was tagged to my account. So do not panic, reboot 🙂
CHROME OS VERSIONS BEFORE and AFTER
Out of the box, it was running 58.0.3029.140 with platform version 9334.72.0, firmware version 8785.198.0, and ARC version 4015103. About one hour after I had it running, I got the new ChromeOS version ready to be installed notification. It even politely asked me whether to install or skip.
Unlike the cascading Windows 10 updates, this is a one-shot update with one reboot. After it was all said and done (very fast) it took me to version 62.0.3202.97, platform version 9901.77.0, firmware 8785.220.0, and ARC version 446936.
I forgot to take screenshots, so if a number above feels off, I may have written it down wrong 🙂
Now the main reason why I mentioned the ChromeOS versions above is that you have a philosophical decision to make. Out of the box, version 58, has the old-school Chrome-style Settings menus. One page of settings and then more under “Advanced Settings”. After you go to version 62, you have the new tablet-y responsive user interface, with a hamburger menu and all. So depending on which one you prefer, you can make Settings adjustments before or after the OS upgrade.
Some new options appear after you get to 62, since Google keeps adding features. Among others, is the ability to run Google Play apps through the Google Play store. You also get the battery saving option to turn off Wifi during sleep. Note that this is turned ON by default, so you have to get into the Settings and turn it off if you like.
INITIAL SETUP BEGINS
The computer turn on when you open the lid, no need to press the power button. I had fully charged it upon arrival but did not turn it on. I got to it ten days later, and the battery dropped from (presumably) 100% to 86%.
First you must connect to a Wifi network. It won’t let you proceed otherwise. If you are connecting to a hidden network, the option for that is at the bottom of the visible Wifi networks. There is an option to view the password after you type it, so that saves on re-typings 🙂 This connected fine to my 5GHz network, which wasn’t a surprise since it is a modern device 🙂
Next Up, after a successful connection, you have to Agree to Terms. Turned ON by default is to send Google Usage Data. You can manually turn it OFF by unclicking that option. So don’t rush through the setup process, you may miss this ~ you can turn it off later, but better to squash it out of the gate 🙂
You are also given a “security code”. I’m not sure what this is exactly, more on that later 🙂
Then you login with the Google Account that will serve as the Owner of this device in terms of Administration. If you are not sure, think it through because you can’t change it later unless you are willing to do a factory reset!
After that, you can select a picture to associate with your Google account, from stock options or you can use a custom picture. Your choice and you can obviously change it later. After that, you are given a mini tour with an option to take a longer tour. You can get to all these using the “?” (question mark) in the System Tray.
After that I got a Notification of a “Sync passphrase” fail, that’s if you want your Chrome data to be sync’ed across devices using Google’s servers. I had turned all the syncing off in my previous Chromebook in a desperate attempt to save on battery life while not in use.
SETTINGS, SETTINGS, SETTINGS
Which settings you want to change it’s up to your and your preferences and needs. I am just highlighting some of the Settings of potential interest here. I started configuration with Chrome OS version 58 and then did a passthrough after installing 62.
Even though you get a lovely 2400×1600 display, out of the box, it is configured as a 1200×800 which ChromeOS considers the Best option. I’ll stick with this for now, and experiment with higher resolutions later.
Under the Keyboard settings, you can convert that darned SEARCH button into a CAPS LOCK button. This is a very irritating thing with ChromeOS keyboards 🙂 Either way, there’s no CAPS LOCK light on the computer, but there is a CAPS LOCK indicator in the System Tray.
Out of the box, you have 22.9GB of available storage. ChromeOS and Samsung have already gobbled up the remaining storage 🙂
Google is the default search engine, but you have half a dozen of preset alternatives, or you can enter your own. I switched to Duck Duck Go because I’m a Chrome Hipster 🙂
The Google Play Store is not enabled by default. You have to manually activate it, and after that, you have to e-sign the Terms and Conditions and such. I will do that later, so I can see whether there’s a performance difference between running and not running the app store.
The Chrome browser includes a tab that points to the Offers page. Don’t ignore this because Google gives you nice freebies. More on this later as well!
The above are the high profile settings. Then you can click on the little “Advanced Settings”. The option to save passwords is turned off by default, so make sure to turn it ON if you want the browser to remember passwords. Typing them in every time can be a pain 🙂
Various Predictive services are turned on by default. If you don’t need them, or don’t want Google to hoard every single piece of data you generate with the device, turn them off 🙂
Bluetooth is turned OFF by default, so before you panic if your device is not connecting, turn it ON 🙂
By default this is on the Stable channel. You have the option to switch to Beta or Developer. Stay on Stable unless you know what you are doing or you have a specific reason why you need to be on the other two versions 🙂 I’m doing this very thing 🙂
PRIVACY under CONTENT SETTINGS
I’m giving this a separate section because it’s a bit buried in the Settings menu. The Privacy options are buried in the Content Settings, which are buried under “Advanced Settings”, Here you have the option to turn off access to things like the Microphone and the Camera to various apps. The default is to Ask you every time which can be pestery with some websites and services. It is a good idea to go through this section!
If you are of the Android phone persuasion, there is an optional “Smart Lock” feature which can reduce the number of logins if you want to use your phone as a “Smart Lock” pal to the laptop, so you don’t have to login all the time. I will experiment with this! I am using a similar feature to keep my phone unlocked when in proximity to the Fossil Q Explorist smartwatch.
Samsung managed to sneak in one app because TouchWiz habits die hard. The Samsung Art Canvas Google Play app is pre-installed 🙂 The other pre-installed apps are Google’s, most of which can be removed, including things like Gmail and YouTube and Calculator and that darned Google+. You can’t remove things that are integral to the OS like Chrome (the browser) and Files and the Google Play Store.
Note that the Google Play TV/Movies app by default automatically sends anonymous data to Google, but you can turn it OFF manually.
Upgrading to Version 64 of ChromeOS brings with it a couple new apps at least. A text edition nerdily named “
NOTE however that Google Keep does not make any money. Google killed Google Reader which was such a wonderful product but had no revenue. Most other Google apps have revenue streams these days, Gmail is full of ads, Play Music/Books/TV and the Play Store sell digital content, and so forth. So before you commit to Google Keep, mayhaps consider a service that has a business/revenue plan 🙂
A lot more is coming up! If you have any questions or things you want me to check, please leave a comment here or in any of the other SCP posts!