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Old 02-01-2011, 09:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Google ChromeOS CR-48.

Six weeks ago I signed up for Google's Pilot program, which was basically Google handing out 60,000 of these units on a selective basis to users to users who filled out a survey. These units are not for sale, but ultimately the feedback of these laptops will power the movement to the final product, which last I heard was to release this summer, or somewhere around there. I've had this little gizmo for the last 12 hours and haven't set it down since, so I figured I would post some observations.

Build Quality: This unit is pretty solid. It's the thinnest laptop I've ever used, however I can't say that I've ever spent much time with a MacBook Air. The keyboard is solid with quiet and slightly rubberized keys. The entire unit has no branding, though I'm sure the final product may somewhere on it. The entire thing, while small, feels solid in your hands. It doesn't have creaky sloppy plastic molding with mismatching seams that some "modern" laptops exhibit. The keyboard is spacious, easy to type, screen is pretty vivid and presents text clearly. It's the perfect size for an on-the-go laptop.

Speed: Faster than I anticipated. It powers on and shuts down faster than my quad core desktop goes into suspend mode, which mind you, is pretty fast... Speed on the internet was equally well. I noticed with TKIP encryption it was a bit sluggish. Nothing bad, but since I had seen another CR-48 in action a few weeks ago, I noticed mine seemed to be a bit slow. I changed to AES encryption and my speed was back. Ironically, I googled the above on this very laptop to yield the answer. Bottom line/back on task, this laptop is pretty fast. It's resume time from closing the lid/opening the lid is nearly instant, as well.

Battery Life: Seeing this very very thin battery I thought, oh geez, it's not going to last that long. I used it till it was dead last night and did a full charge. While the battery meter hasn't been fully accurate, it's hovered around an estimated average of 8.5-9 hours. Nice!

Wifi: And of course, internet. The thing that this laptop requires to survive and even function. You heard right, this netbook is a true NETbook. It requires the internet to even run. When you log in, it asks you what wireless you want to connect to. Without wireless, you've got nothing. Now, this bothered me, and I thought for sure I would throw this on the shelf and never use it again. But I didn't realize just how much I relied on the internet on my regular laptop to begin with. Don't get me wrong, this CR-48 is not a workhorse laptop to be used in place of a technician's laptop. I wouldn't be able to use this at work, because I use a ton of utilities and troubleshooting applications that just isn't here on this CR-48. That being said, this thing is the *perfect* unit for me to use on the go. It's more usable than my 8.9" netbook, although I'm sure I'll still use it here and there. Bottom line is, I rely on internet based services that much that it didn't shock me to "require" it for this CR-48 to run. Some people may agree or disagree, because everybody's usage will be different.

Bottom line: This thing has potential. Already this gizmo is proving to be a nice little unit to rely on. It's fast, terrific battery life, and the projected price is very, very attractive. It's far more usable than the iPad could ever hope to be, but it still has some work to go on. It's fully open source, which is.. um... awesome. For now there is no local storage I am aware of, however there is a built in SD card slot that I've heard in time will provide some hope. It may not be optimal, but with how big some SD cards are getting, it might not be a bad addition.

I suspect rapid development to move forward with these laptops and I am anxious to see what comes next. Until then, I am finding myself addicted to the Google App Store, finding new applications for various tasks.
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Old 02-01-2011, 12:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google ChromeOS CR-48.

My ISP is stunningly unreliable so this wouldn't suit me, though I do agree that a huge amount of what I do can be reasonably described as needing the Internet. What happens with this laptop if the Internet goes out mid-session?
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Old 02-01-2011, 01:22 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google ChromeOS CR-48.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmote View Post
My ISP is stunningly unreliable so this wouldn't suit me, though I do agree that a huge amount of what I do can be reasonably described as needing the Internet. What happens with this laptop if the Internet goes out mid-session?
It depends where you are in the loading process of the web page. If you are currently looking at a page and the internet goes out, it remains there and you can scroll around, etc., since everything is cached. If you are in the process of loading something and it goes out, you get a white screen saying that you are offline. However, once the connection comes back, it auto-refreshes everything for you.

I was testing it earlier with roaming from one access point to another. If I would literally run from one AP to another AP it would drop connection but re-gain it quickly once I stopped in place. At the time I was loading about 12 tabs of various sites when it dropped (I did this intentionally) and all of them refreshed once it re-gained at the 2nd AP.

However, if I walk like normal/slow-ish down the hall it bounces from one to another like a regular laptop. It was only when I made the mad-dash did it drop. Likewise, our Windows laptops and my Ubuntu laptop exhibited very very similar findings.

I really, really doubt this will be a laptop killer, but that's not Google's intentions. Google's intentions is to provide users with a limited use laptop that compliments the "in between" areas of power users on desktop/high powered laptop systems.

The one solid +1 of cloud based storage is if you're out somewhere and your laptop gets stolen, it's hardly a problem (aside from the frustration). Go pick out a new one and bingo-bango, all of your stuff is back as if nothing ever happened. Of course, this is at the expense of a powerhouse containing the data on "their" servers, but there's pros/cons to each scenario, and in this case it just depends on how you look at it.
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Old 02-06-2011, 08:29 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google ChromeOS CR-48.

Just some things to add:

I have gotten the recent update, which you have to do by enabling "developer channel" in your About Chrome OS settings so you can get the latest updates. This is a bit less stable than the actual Beta channel, but a lot of updates coming down have been fixing 10 problems and only introducing 1 or 2 more problems. That being said, so far I've preferred to stay on the developer channel. With the developer channel 156.4 update I can now browse the contents of an SD card, which tells me local storage is on the horizon via USB/SD Card slots. I tried to play an mp3, but I got an error with the playback. No sweat, I'm sure it'll come.

Likewise I also did some reading about developer mode as well. This is different than developer channel, which I was not aware of for a while. Dev channel is a setting within the OS that lets you get ALL of the latest updates, which are warned to not be guaranteed as stable in any way. Developer mode is a switch hidden under the battery that basically allows you to hack the CR-48. With this, you can wipe the OS on board and install most of the common OS's out there. I've seen videos of people running Windows 7 on it, as well as Linux Mint, Ubuntu, etc.

Are you listening Apple? Google ENCOURAGES hacking on their devices. They don't hold it as a felony.

I have also noticed the "range" on the LCD brightness meter has changed as well. You can also customize the arrangement of your app icons on the main home screen as well, which is nice because I like having my top items in the top row, etc. Still trying to poke around to see what I'm finding, but so far the latest update is proving to be half decent.
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Old 02-06-2011, 08:40 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google ChromeOS CR-48.

Is that just because it's MP3? For example, can you play ogg?
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Old 02-06-2011, 08:56 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google ChromeOS CR-48.

I tried mp3, ogg, avi, and mpeg, all failed to work. I also don't get to view a jpg if I click on it from the SD card. It launches a new black-background tab entitled "slideshow" with forward/backward arrows, which I assume is to navigate through available pictures on the card just like any other OS. I just don't think the media player is optimized for playback yet, and I'm not quite sure how supported the file system is for actually viewing/using content on external media. After all, just 2 days ago I couldn't even get this thing to recognize my SD card. Now it sees the SD card but just can't utilize what's on it, regardless of the format.
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Old 02-06-2011, 10:55 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google ChromeOS CR-48.

Ah, still needs a fair bit of work then.
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Old 02-06-2011, 12:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google ChromeOS CR-48.

Yeah - it has a while to go yet. I'm not quite sure if Google anticipated to have any local storage at all besides utilizing USB/SD Card slot to upload pictures from flash drives and memory cards to the web. But I think once everybody freaked that they at least want to store music and a few other things locally then they bit down and re-vamped it to handle it (or are at least working on it).

I'm surprised at how capable this gizmo is, but then again I had extremely low expectations when I first got it. Anxious to see what updates come about down the road. From what I've read, they're anticipating a June/July final release. Not sure how solid that is but that was the rumor.
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Old 02-06-2011, 04:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google ChromeOS CR-48.

pics or it didn't happen
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Old 02-08-2011, 08:25 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google ChromeOS CR-48.

I was reading a little bit on some web sites I dug up who were discussing the future of the ChromeOS laptop. Some users were raving about it's amazingness, and others were like, dude it can't survive. It can't do this this and this, but other users would say but it's not supposed to, etc.

In hearing all of this, I'm curious if this forum has any user opinions of it. Whether you have used it and are speaking from experience or you have read about it and want to offer an opinion based on what you know, I'm curious what is the bare minimal set of features this ChromeOS laptop would have to possess (and at what price range) would it take for you to consider buying it, assuming it was available today.
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