Thursday, 23 December 2010

Cr-48 My First Impressions

So on the 10th December a big brown box is sitting on the doorstep out on the porch, having no idea what was in it since I was expecting nothing, the box is slowly opened up and soon it dawns on me what I have before me, one of Google's Cr-48 notebooks which they have sent out to various 'test-pilots' to give the new Google Chrome OS a test drive.

What is Google Chrome OS?

Since the notebook arrived during my last two weeks of semester I had to tell myself not to get too distracted, hence my lack of posting, though I have been trying out the Alpha 1 of Natty Narwhal, it is time to dig into Chrome OS in a significant way. The laptop itself is unbranded, but well made and feels high quality. Opening up the lid gives you the Chrome OS splash screen and before you know it you are logging on. The whole process is fast and slick.

Next you log yourself in, initially I did have some problems connecting to the home wifi network but that has since sorted itself out. You also have the option of taking a picture via the integrated webcam (but you can skip), then there you are logged into your Chrome OS. Even though I use Ubuntu on my other systems Chromium is my primary browser and Chrome OS immdiately syncs all my applications and extensions so that it feels just like home.

What you now have is what looks like Google's Chrome browser in full screen and this is your Operating System. The only real difference is that in the top right you have a battery monitor, WiFi status, selected language and the time. That's it. You really can not get anymore stripped down then this. Remember there is nothing stored on the notebook, your storage is entirely online and this is what takes getting used to and I will talk about more of this in future posts.

Right now all my initial reactions are positive, I have been hitting a few wrong keys as I use the keyboard as there are a few new additions to the keyboard, the coolest and most useful is a dedicated search button. I am guessing that will have a Google symbol on it in the official releases as this machine is completely unbranded. Also there is no need to be holding a Fn button to alter the sound or screen brightness as there are dedicated buttons. From what I understand Chrome OS will be available pre-installed on notebooks and not available as an installable OS to existing systems so getting the whole package right is important.

How to remain calm, despite what's about to happen to your Chrome notebook


And I have to say, so far they have. A few settings could be a bit more intuitive, but these are minor niggles and so far this is exactly what it is supposed to be, an extremely easy and efficient to access your on-line world. Personally this laptop would be an excellent second laptop, or for a student it would make huge sense to have a laptop like this...or for anybody's first real computer for that matter. I do not have the time, patience or want to spend the money transferring almost a TB of personal data to on-line services. BUT you have to see the sense in having all your data kept in the cloud, or on-line, the idea that you may never lose any data again is a huge plus. There will always be the argument of what if you can not access the internet? Google has offered local off-line storage with their 'gears' software, while the new internet standard of html5 should allow every modern browser to provide limited local storage.

Is the future here? I do not know that, but I am very impressed with the technology sitting in my lap right now which I am typing up this blog on. Thanks to Google for giving me the opportunity to help develop this next step.

Peace
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