As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently received a ChromeOS Netbook from Google. I’ve been using this netbook along with my laptop since then, and here’s a quick review of it so far. I haven’t used all the features yet, but should be able to provide an overview for now.
One of the major reasons why I didn’t like other netbooks, the keyboards are way to small. On this laptop, the keys are decently sized,and I can actually type comfortably on it. The screen is about 12 inches and has a matte finish which is much better than a glossy finishes that reflects light horribly. The body of the netbook has a rubberized coating or something, and give it s very unique look. It’s very bland, in fact there are no markings on it at all, just a black box basically… It has a USB port and a SD card reader, but I haven’t used them yet (the purpose is to live your life online, and have nothing really physical). It also has a VGA port, but I don’t have anything to connect it to, so haven’t tested that out yet.
Google also set up a deal with Verizon to provide 100 mb of data on their network for your first 24 months of ownership. I haven’t tried it yet, but will be testing it later this week when I’m travelling. I’ve been using the wi-fi mainly, and the only issue with that has been connecting to networks that require a certificate for authentication. Google knows about this issue and is working on it. Hopefully should be fixed sometime soon…
It’s amazingly fast to boot. Takes under 30 seconds from a cold boot to the splash screen where you log in. Once you do, you’ve got your Google Chrome browser and that’s about it. There’s no start menu of installed app, no launcher, nothing; just the browser. It took some time to get used to it (trying to open a start menu), but it’s kinda easy to get used to it. Maybe since I’m using Chrome as my primary browser on my laptop has helped with the transition. Again, if you’re used to Chrome, using the netbook should be pretty straight forward, the web apps that you’re used to are there, and it syncs to your Google account.
Unfortunately, you’re kinda locked to using Google’s online Documents system. There are some Citrix apps that I can use for work/school, but Citrix isn’t supported yet. There is an app or something in the works apparently; once that happens it will make it easier to integrate into your work life as well.
Performance is decent; it’s not as fast as a normal computer, but it’s definitely not noticeably slow. The main problem comes back to the actual browser. Some sites just don’t like Chrome and will tell you to use another browser; clearly you can’t do that on the CR-48, so you’re kinda stuck with it. The battery life is supposed to be 8 hours, and so far I’ve seen it last around 7 hours pretty easily. As long as you’re not running video all the time, you can run the laptop for the day on a single charge.
This laptop is definitely not for everyone. It takes time to get used to no hard drive, no start menu… You gotta live your life on the internet. And since this hardware isn’t going to be in the laptops when they actually launch, hopefully some of the performance issues won’t be there either. You can survive a weekend with just the CR-48 (I’ll be trying this over the New Year weekend), but it can’t do everything. I’d really wait on recommending this to anyone till the final hardware configurations are released in mid-2011.