RIP Windows 7: Could a Chromebook replace your now-outdated laptop? - 9to5Google

RIP Windows 7: Could a Chromebook replace your now-outdated laptop? - 9to5Google


RIP Windows 7: Could a Chromebook replace your now-outdated laptop? - 9to5Google

Posted: 15 Jan 2020 11:08 AM PST

It's official. This week, support ends for Windows 7 as Microsoft pushes users to upgrade to Windows 10. While a Windows 7 laptop isn't just going to die, a lack of future updates leaves it open to attacks. So, is a Chromebook a viable replacement for your Windows 7 machine? Let's discuss.

Why should I stop using Windows 7?

For quite some time now, Microsoft has made it clear that January 14th, 2020 would mark the end of support for updates for the operating system. For the foreseeable future, programs will still be supported and some will even keep getting updates on Windows 7, but the platform won't be patched anymore.

In a way, that's good news since Windows 7 is one of the most popular operating systems ever. It still runs on a whopping 26% of PCs currently active today and, with Microsoft ending support, the plug won't just be pulled on those millions of laptops and desktops leaving users with inactive machines.

However, the end of support does mean that the operating system is vulnerable to exploits and other security vulnerabilities. Microsoft, obviously, wants users to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10, but there are other options and one of those is a Chromebook.

Why should I switch to a Chromebook?

If you're on an older Windows 7 machine, a Chromebook might be a viable replacement for you. How so?

Chrome OS is, more or less, just the Chrome browser but running the entire machine. You'll be able to access all of your favorite websites without worrying about virus protection or updates – they're both free, built-in, and automatic. For users especially of older versions of Windows, this alone is a huge win and makes owning a laptop easier.

On top of that, there's another huge benefit to buying a Chromebook. Chromebooks are, in most cases, cheaper than comparable Windows machines. You'll get a more affordable piece of hardware which, frankly, will also run better than a Windows machine at the same price point. Low-end Windows laptops usually run into performance issues over time as you download programs and files. Even high-end machines eventually have trouble with this, so the "cheap" stuff is going to have trouble even sooner.

A Chromebook, on the other hand, will chug along with the same specifications with fewer issues as time goes on. My family, as an example, still uses an Acer Chromebook from 2016 which has nothing impressive under the hood and they've expressed no complaints with the machine.

There is one very important caveat to buying a Chromebook, though. Chromebooks all have a built-in end-of-life date. Windows versions are generally updated for about 10 years regardless of the hardware they are on, but Chromebooks generally only get 6-8 years of updates. These updates are easier and are all free, but if you buy a Chromebook you'll have to do so knowing that, eventually, it'll stop getting updates. On the bright side, Google has been extending those dates lately.

Will a Chromebook work with what I do?

The biggest asterisk to that, however, is what you actually do on your current machine. Do you mainly use your old laptop to surf the web, scroll Facebook, and watch YouTube videos? In that case, Chromebooks might just be a perfect fit for you.

On top of that, many traditional Windows apps now support Progressive Web Apps (PWA). These are updated faster and are less resource-intensive too. Spotify, for example, has a full-featured PWA which works wonderfully on Chrome OS. Are you a user of Microsoft Office? The company's Android apps are optimized with Chromebooks in mind and, alternatively, Google Drive provides similar products to the core Office suite which are all completely free too.

lenovo yoga chromebook c630 review

Of course, Chrome OS simply isn't for everyone. The platform has some powerful machines, but it lacks some big apps to take advantage of that. Adobe, for example, offers Lightroom as an optimized Android app, but Photoshop and Premiere Pro are nowhere to be found for photo/video editing. Music production and other apps like that aren't available either, unfortunately.

For people who require very specific apps in their workflow or even in their personal lives, Chrome OS just isn't an option. However, I'd wager that the majority of "normal" laptop owners could make a Chromebook work wonderfully in their daily lives.

Which Chromebook should I buy?

So, have I convinced you that Chromebooks might be worth a shot following the demise of Windows 7? If so, you're probably wondering which one to get. Luckily, there are Chromebooks available at pretty much every price point. We've got an entire guide dedicated to helping you pick the right Chromebook, but let's go over a couple of options that especially have mass appeal.

  • Lenovo Chromebook C340/C330: Out of these two, we'd prefer the Lenovo C330, but the C340 is easier to buy at this point in time. It offers up low-end specs but enough pep to get by, solid battery life, and a 2-in-1 design that's handy for media consumption. Pricing is usually around $250-$300 for both of these. (C340 EOL: 2026)
  • Samsung Chromebook 4+: The first name in laptops you think of probably isn't Samsung, but the Chromebook 4+ offers up a 15.6-inch display, Intel Celeron processor, and a slick design for under $300. (Chromebook 4+ EOL: 2026)
  • Lenovo Chromebook 100e: Need something that's ridiculously cheap? The Lenovo Chromebook 100e won't win any awards for design or performance, but it's a machine that should handle lightweight tasks for a price of $170 or less. (100e EOL: 2026)
  • Samsung Chromebook Plus v2/ASUS Chromebook C434: Have a bit more to spend? Samsung and ASUS have some of the best "affordable-premium" Chromebooks with the Chromebook Plus v2 and C434. Both offer Intel m3 chips which are more capable than Celeron along with better displays and build quality. They both cost between $450-$500. (Chromebook Plus v2 EOL: 2024 – C434 EOL: 2026)
  • Google Pixelbook Go: Are you prepared to go all-in on Chrome OS? Our favorite Chromebook you can buy today is the Google Pixelbook Go because it has speedy performance, great speakers, and a good display too. It's steeply priced at $649, but for some, it may be worthwhile. (Pixelbook Go EOL: 2026)

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Is Cannabis Stock Aphria a Buy in 2020? - Nasdaq

Posted: 15 Jan 2020 04:21 AM PST

Ask any cannabis stock investor, and they'll tell you this isn't how it was supposed to go for the marijuana industry. After looking primed to push toward profitability, cannabis stocks faded in 2019. Supply issues in Canada, high tax rates in select U.S. states, and a resilient black market throughout North America have made life difficult for pot stocks.

But the substantive declines that cannabis stocks dealt with last year now have some folks believing pot stocks might be a bargain. One such name that continues to (pardon the pun) crop up is Ontario-based Aphria (NYSE: APHA).

But is Aphria, a top-tier Canadian grower that lost about half of its value since early April, really a cannabis stock that investors should consider buying in 2020? As you're about to see, probably not.

Before I dig into the details behind my skepticism surrounding Aphria, let's discuss some of the factors that have made Aphria one of the most popular marijuana stocks.

Silver dice that say buy and sell being rolled across a digital screen containing volume and price information.

Image source: Getty Images.

On paper, Aphria appears to have what it takes to be a winning investment

Aphria seems like a major player in the Canadian space. The company's three cultivation facilities -- the joint-venture Aphria Diamond, Aphria One, and Broken Coast Cannabis -- are capable of 255,000 kilos of combined peak annual output. Having only three cultivation farms should lead to Aphria recognizing lower production costs via economies of scale. Additionally, having only three grow farms may allow Aphria to be more nimble than its peers in adjusting its costs and output to match market demand.

Aphria is also well-positioned to take advantage of growth opportunities beyond its domestic borders. Thanks to its acquisition of Nuuvera in March 2018, Aphria has access to nearly one dozen countries, including Canada. These foreign markets should come in handy if and when dried cannabis flower becomes oversupplied and commoditized in Canada. Being able to ship product overseas will help save Aphria's margins from deteriorating.

Of course, Aphria has also been profitable for two consecutive quarters. Whereas most large growers have been losing money at an extraordinary pace, Aphria reported $16.4 million Canadian in net income in its fiscal first quarter. The acquisition of drug distributor CC Pharma in Jan. 2019 has also helped to put some pep in the company's top-line numbers.

While this probably all sounds great, there are a number of potential flaws in the buy-side thesis for Aphria.

A person holding a magnifying glass over a potted cannabis plant.

Image source: Getty Images.

Here's why Aphria isn't a pot stock you'll want to own in 2020

For starters, the company's net income should come with an asterisk. That's because Aphria's cannabis operations continue to lose money if you remove a number of one-time benefits and costs.

In particular, International Financial Reporting Standards accounting requires Canadian growers to regularly estimate and adjust the value of their crops, as well as their cost to sell these products. In Aphria's case, these fair-value adjustments have worked in its favor, pushing the company into the profit column. But if you focus solely on Aphria's operating results without fair-value adjustments, it's still losing money.

Aphria is also toting around an unsightly amount of goodwill on its balance sheet, most of which is tied to its purchase of Nuuvera and its acquisition of Latin American assets, both of which occurred in 2018. Aphria ended the fiscal first quarter with nearly CA$670 million in goodwill, representing 28% of the company's total assets. What you may not realize is that this already includes a CA$50 million writedown on its Latin American assets taken last year. I find it unlikely that Aphria is going to recoup a significant portion of this goodwill, making future writedowns a very real possibility. 

But perhaps the bigger issue here is that Wall Street has lost trust in Aphria, and that's not something that'll be easy to regain. After the company was accused of fraud in December 2018, an independent committee found most of the allegations in a short-seller report to be baseless. However, the committee did find that a handful of executives had conflicts of interest in the Latin American asset purchase. This led longtime CEO Vic Neufeld to step down.

And that's not all. Just a day prior to the closing of the Nuuvera acquisition in March 2018, it was reported that a number of Aphria execs had a position in Nuuvera. While it's not unheard of for the insiders of a company to own an equity stake in a business it's buying, investors would want to know this information more than a day in advance prior to closing. Trust is very hard to rebuild, and it's likely to hold Aphria back in 2020.

A person holding up a puzzle piece with a large question mark drawn on it.

Image source: Getty Images.

What would make Aphria a buy?

Although I don't believe Aphria is a cannabis stock that investors should be buying right now, it does have the intangibles to eventually be a successful company. Here are a few things that would need to happen to potentially change my mind about Aphria as an investment.

First, I'd like to see Aphria's cannabis operations push into recurring profitability without the need for fair-value adjustments. With construction costs in the rearview mirror and growers now selling higher-margin derivative products, it's not out of the question that Aphria could begin delivering no-nonsense profits by the second-half of 2020. Just make sure to sift through the company's pharmaceutical-distribution revenue to get to the meat and potatoes of its higher-margin pot business.

Second, I'd like to see Aphria bite the bullet, so to speak, and write down a portion of its goodwill. It's unlikely that the company is going to recoup anywhere close to CA$670 million in premium paid, so coming to terms with that fact sooner rather than later is going to be the right move.

Aphria clearly has some work ahead of it, and its rightful place for the time being is on your watchlist, not in your portfolio.

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Sean Williams has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

You Can Still Ring in the New Year with a Polar Plunge - K1025

Posted: 14 Jan 2020 08:39 AM PST

The Ice bucket challenge is so last decade. Keep up a century-old tradition that goes back to 1920 with a polar plunge, February 1 in Stevensville.

How long has this been on your bucket list? Maybe you're thinking you are off the hook for another year. Think again. Be bold, get cold as Watermark Brewing Company in downtown Stevensville is hosting a polar plunge on Saturday, February 1.

Starting the new year with a dip into freezing cold water has been a tradition since our Canadian friends first did it in 1920. Most often a New Year's day event, This February 1 date is a benefit for Special Olympics Michigan. They call it "freezin' for a reason" and you only have to pay $75 for the privilege of freezing your extremities off in the middle of winter.

Here's the asterisk: Registration for the polar plunge is free, but you have to raise or contribute $75 to Special Olympics Michigan to get the t-shirt to prove you did it. There's also a special "too chicken to plunge" registration where you can pledge $20 toward their efforts and stay warm and dry.

h/t Moody on the Market

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