Syncs and sandboxes
There are clear advantages to Google's setup. Because you log in with your overarching Google account, the company can synchronize your settings across machines. When we first logged into our Samsung Chromebook, it synced with our Cr-48, right down to the extensions we had installed. And because Google keeps everything in the browser, it has greater control over security.
Every webpage is restricted to a sandbox, and if malware escapes the sandbox, Google does a verified boot at startup in an effort to identify any system tampering. What's more, like Google's Chrome browser, the OS is constantly updated across the wire with security patches. Some researchers warn that Google is simply "moving the goalposts" for scammers. But at least in the short term, moving the goalposts is nothing but a good thing, and there's no denying that Google has shrunk the scope of the problem – just as it has shrunk the scope of the applications the machine is capable of running.
For every advantage, there's a disadvantage. When using our Chromebook, we can't run the Yahoo! Instant Messenger we normally run on our Mac. We're forced to use either a third-party Yahoo! Messenger browser extension or the web-based version of Yahoo!'s tool. The extension is practically unusable, so we opt for the web service. It works well enough. But there are caveats. We don't always notice we have a new message, and it's harder to toggle back and forth between IMs and some other app.
That was just one example, but it is indicative of the platform as a whole. You can't use Skype or play a DVD. But you can use Google Talk or YouTube – at least in theory. Sadly, our Samsung Chromebook shipped with what appears to be a faulty audio system. We can't get sound... at all. We can watch videos, but we can't hear them. And we can't listen to MP3s on Google's new media player. Though we asked Google and Samsung about the sound system and Google acknowledged our questions, neither company provided help with the problem.
That said, it actually took us awhile to notice that problem. We were using the machine for work purposes, opening it on the train into the office each morning and in the evening on the way home. It serves certain purposes.
More future, please
Yes, it works on the train. The Samsung model we tested includes a built-in 3G adapter, and in partnership with Verizon, Google and Samsung offers 100MB of free service a month for the first two years of use. This isn't an awful lot of data, but it's something. This 3G version sells for $499, $60 more than the Wi-Fi version.
We ran through our 100MB after about four or five days and no more than several hours of email, IM, and web browsing. We were cut off in the middle of a train ride, as we typed another IM. We couldn't instant message. We couldn't browse the web. We couldn't write. We couldn't edit. We couldn't do anything.
Of course, most machines are only marginally useful when you use an internet connection. And the Chromebook will become more useful in such situations. A few web apps available from Google's Chrome Web Store already work offline, and Google continues to promise that its Google Apps suite will offer HTML5-based offline access sometime "this summer".
The Chromebook is an idea ahead of its prime. It makes sense for certain businesses – or at least portions of certain businesses – where you don't need high-end applications and you don't have to worry about losing internet access. Google is targeting enterprises with a subscription pricing model, in which you pay a monthly fee for hardware, software, and support.
But for consumers, the Chromebook is a rather intriguing creation that's ultimately less useful than you'd like it to be. It needs more than a file manager. It needs five more years of interwebs evolution. ®
I mean, I read the article, some positive aspects were noted. But I just don't see why anybody would want this. What does it offer that you can't do on a basic Windows or Linux laptop... with Chrome installed? It seems to me you sacrifice the option of running local applications and gain nothing in return. And it's not astoundingly cheap either, I'm not sure it's cheaper at all.
The only possible advantage I see on the security front, but even there I'm not totally convinced. By giving up the ability to run local applications, you obviously reduce the number of ways your computer can be attacked. Can't argue with that. But since you've moved everything into the browser, presumably if your browser DOES get compromised, that's has bad as having a normal computer completely compromised.
i dont get it
its designed to do one thing well yet it costs the same as atom based netbook that can do everything with much higher storage but can also access google docs etc.
i just do not understand why anyone would want this? its not exactly lightweight, its not cheap (if they want it thought of as "disposable" it will need to be considerably cheaper) battery life is great but the rest of it sounds like a major ball ache why on earth would anyone want this over a windows/linux atom based netbook other than the speedy boot?
Too expensive for what it is
If this was 100 USD it might sell, crippled though it is. At 500 USD I can't see many people bothering.
Android and ARM based notebooks will do a lot more for less.
"I dont criticise Ducatti because they only make motorbikes and i dont have a motorbike license."
No, it's like criticising someone offering a boat as a replacement for my car.
It'll get me around great until I run out of water.
Who killed the netbook?
If Microsoft's OS pricing killed the netbook, then why does this one (which comes without said OS) cost MORE than MS-based ones?