Feeds
60%
Samsung Chromebook

Samsung Chromebook: The $499 Google thought experiment

Oh, Google! You're so Googly!

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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.

Samsung Chrome OS notebook - left ports, open

Something else marginally interesting (click to enlarge)

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".

Samsung Chrome OS notebook - logo

Eye on the web (click to enlarge)

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

60%
Samsung Chromebook

Samsung Chromebook: The $499 Google thought experiment

Slimline 12in netbook for internet communications, cloud computing and remote storage.
Price: $499 RRP

More from The Register

next story
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.