Do you prefer to edit 360 photos and videos on your Android phone, but sometimes wish you had a larger screen, a readily accessible Micro SD slot, or maybe even a keyboard? Google has been adding Android app support to Chromebooks, enabling them to run Android apps, including apps for controlling 360 cameras, and for editing 360 photos and videos.
Performance: Chromebooks are compact laptops that run on Google’s Linux-based Chrome OS. Because Chrome OS is much more lightweight than Windows or Mac, it feels very responsive, even on lower-end hardware. I can start using my Chromebook as quickly as I can use my smartphone or a tablet.
Storage: Another difference is that Chromebooks have limited built-in storage — usually 16GB or 32GB. The rest of your data resides in the cloud (Google Drive). That might sound scary at first, but so far it’s been working transparently. I just download files to my Chromebook 32GB without even thinking about it, and my Chromebook hasn’t run out of space. Files are sent to and from Google Drive without noticeable delay. When I don’t have an internet connection, it works off the built-in storage. And because the files are on Google Drive, I can access them my other devices, including my smartphone and my desktop without needing to sync.
Apps: Chromebooks can’t run Windows or Mac apps but they can run Chrome apps. If you use Chrome browser, you know that there are many of them, including Google Docs and Sheets. Basically, you can run browser-based apps, cloud-based apps, or browser extensions. Again, it sounds very limiting but in the real world, those are all I use when I’m mobile (for example, I don’t expect to do edit videos on Premiere while I’m mobile).
Now, Chromebooks are becoming even more useful, thanks to the addition of Android support. With Android support, Chromebooks will be able to run many of the apps you use on your smartphone.
Here is a list of Chromebooks with Android app support. The two that I use are Samsung Chromebook 3 (Android support was added to mine only last night) and Samsung Chromebook Plus (which had Android support built-in from its release).
If you bought an app from the Google Play Store from your phone, you’ll be able to install it on a Chromebook without having to buy it again.
However, not all Android apps can run on a Chromebook. Here are some 360-related apps that are available and some that are not. Note: I haven’t tested them to see how they work on Chromebook.
Available to Chromebook:
Adobe Lightroom CC
Collect (360 video editor)
edit360 (Theta Converter)
Giroptic iO 360
GoPro (but note that the Android version doesn’t support Fusion yet)
LG 360 Cam Manager and LG 360 Cam Viewer
Ricoh Theta S
V360 360 video editor
Vanish360 (for Theta)
VR Media Player
Not available to Chromebook:
Madventure 360 app
Mi Sphere Camera app
Samsung Gear 360
It seems that for controlling 360 cameras, some manufacturers envisioned that they would be controlled only by phone. On the other hand, it appears that most 360 photo and video editors for Android can be used with Chromebook.
Which Chromebook to get?
For a low-cost Chromebook, I like the Samsung Chromebook 3 (generally under $200). What I like about it is the 4GB RAM and the 32GB storage. I’ve been using it for a year now and don’t have any complaints about it. I love the battery, which lasts a very long time. Another bonus is that the large battery can charge my 360 cameras fairly quickly (I just plug in the camera into a USB port). I bring my Chromebook with me almost everywhere.
I liked the Chromebook 3 so much that I got the Samsung Chromebook Plus. The Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro are Chromebooks that were specifically designed to have built-in Android app support. They also have touchscreens and a stylus, and can convert from a laptop to a tablet. Finally, they have higher-end hardware, including a larger, higher resolution screen, and more powerful processor.
Samsung Chromebook Plus vs. Chromebook Pro: The difference between Plus and Pro is that the Pro has a more powerful processor and an option for 64GB internal storage. But because the Pro uses as Intel Core processor instead of an ARM processor, some Android apps are not optimized for the Pro’s Intel processor.
Samsung Chromebook Plus vs. Chromebook 3: So far, I like the Chromebook Plus, because of its touchscreen, larger and brighter screen, and ability to convert to a tablet. I was surprised that the Chromebook Plus weighs slightly less than the Chromebook 3 (2.38 vs. 2.5 lbs) despite its larger screen and metal body (the Chromebook 3 has a plastic body).
Some things I miss: the Chromebook Plus doesn’t have a USB 3.0 port. Instead it has two USB Type C ports (one of which is also used for charging — so if you’re plugged into a wall, you only have one USB port left). It also doesn’t have an HDMI port — instead you need to get a USB Type C to HDMI adapter. Nonetheless, if you’re getting a Chromebook specifically for editing photos and videos, the touchscreen on the Chromebook Plus is very useful.
If you want to buy a Chromebook, they’re very reasonably priced:
Samsung Chromebook 3
Samsung Chromebook Plus
Samsung Chromebook Pro
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