Walt Mossberg

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A Laptop for Light Work

Q:

I’ve become a 100% user of Google Docs and use my computer only for browsing, email and cloud applications. I read your column recommending laptops, but was wondering what you might recommend for someone like me.

A:

Assuming you are looking for a laptop rather than a tablet, the least expensive and best configured machine for your needs is likely a Google-developed Chromebook, built by either Acer or Samsung. Information about them is at http://bit.ly/TbdhlW. I reviewed the latest version of the Chrome OS, which powers the Chromebook, in June. You can find the review at http://dthin.gs/Lvc8mg. I rated it as inferior to Windows or the Mac operating system, mainly because those platforms can run many more programs. But given your needs, the Chromebook might have been designed for you.

Q:

I was wondering if Google’s Nexus 7 tablet allows the user to edit documents in Google Drive instead of just viewing them, as on the Google Drive iPad app.

A:

As far as I know, the Android Google Drive app runs the same on the Nexus 7 as on other Android tablets. It does allow you to edit documents in Google’s own formats. But if you try to edit a Microsoft Office document, the app sends you to an Office-compatible app, if you have one. On the iPad, the Google Drive app lacks built-in editing, even for apps in Google’s formats. But it can send you directly to Google Docs in the Web browser to edit documents in Google formats. If you want to edit those in Microsoft formats, the app, as on Android, sends you to another, Office-compatible app.

Q:

I use Microsoft SkyDrive because I’m grandfathered with 25 GB of free storage. I have not seen evidence that the sync of files from my hard drive to SkyDrive works, so I upload manually. Is there something I need to do to make this automatic?

A:

It has always worked well for me, and yours is the first email I’ve received about this problem. I assume you have installed the SkyDrive app and that you are placing the files you want to sync in the special SkyDrive folder it creates. If you are and it isn’t working, I suggest you delete the program and then download and install a new copy. Also, Microsoft has a help site at: http://bit.ly/MYB6YH that includes a troubleshooting section.

Corrections & Amplifications

An earlier version of this article incorrectly said Google-developed Chromebooks are currently built by Asus and Samsung.

Email Walt at mossberg@wsj.com.


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