Since last Friday, I’ve used Google’s new Chrome OS CR-48 notebook virtually full time as a part of the approx. 60,000 unit beta test.
If you use Chrome as your browser, you know Chrome OS. Except, unlike using it on Windows, it is on the screen full-time. There is no desktop. Everything is a tab and you must be connected to a wireless network. Either Wi-Fi or on Verizon 3G. VZ gives 100MB free/month for 2 years. A new app store is now up and available to all users of Chrome – the browser and the OS.
The best thing is – it is fast. Less than a minute to start-up and just a few seconds to wake-up. As a web device it is very solid for a beta test. The only time I had to quit using it was when I had a Webex conference. Otherwise, Google docs and the web have worked well.
My least favorite thing – You must use Cloud Print to print. What’s that? Wireless printing through Google’s cloud and then down to a local PC connected to a local printer. That was a problem for me. We didn’t have an always-on PC on the network. I took one of the laptops in the house, loaded Chrome Beta 9 (neccessary for Cloud Print), and now I can print from the CR-48. I think you should be able to directly access your printer on your local network.
Quick note on the hardware. I don’t know if the beta unit will bear any resemblance to the production units from Acer and Samsung expected in mid-2011. The CR-48 specs are: Intel Atom processor, 12-inch LCD display, full-size keyboard and oversized touchpad, webcam, built-in mic, USB and VGA monitor port. It weighs 3.8 lbs., has a flush mount battery and gets slightly warm but not hot. Google states 8 hours of active time and a week of standby time. I haven’t tested the battery life, but it sounds close.
Overall First Impression – This can be a good net appliance, especially for distributed companies that supports their business apps through the cloud. It won’t replace an iPad, but the keyboard is a welcome relief over tablets or a smaller netbook when you need to type.
There are many unanswered questions: Will Chrome OS support tablets? Is there room in Google’s stable for both Chrome OS and Android? What will be the hardware price points? .. and many more.
Google does have one thing in its favor. In the late 90’s, CEO Eric Schmidt was with Sun Microsystems and failed with a 1st generation ‘internet machine.’ The difference this time: Moore’s Law has had about a dozen years to make the infrastructure dramatically more powerful, faster and cheaper.
More to come in the near future.
– Don Kincaid