[Edited 2/4/2011 to add printing comments]
One of the most exciting parts of new technologies is the ability to imagine how it can be useful in the future and not just at this moment in time. That os one of the reasons why I jumped to sign up for the Cr-48 netbook from Google. I was one of the lucky few (okay, about 1 of 60,000) to receive a Chrome OS netbook in December. The following will be my review of this computer.
Great for everyday use if you don’t need local media storage; try streaming music instead of storing it locally. Not a good primary computer for power users. Printer is difficult to set up unless you have a new cloud printer; you must have another computer running with the Chrome browser on it. Boot up is super fast.
12.1 inch LCD screen
3G Modem (Works on Verizon network)
The specs for this Chrome OS device seem pretty standard for netbooks except for the notable small size of storage, which is inaccessible to the user. I particularly liked the chicklet keyboard style (similar to MacBook keys) used on this model. This is only a pilot program that Google has set up for Chrome OS and manufacturers will be creating their own hardware variations when and if this operating systems launches in retail.
I think that the Cr-48 would be a great device for most common users. Most people today use an Internet browser for most tasks at home. This includes social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogging as well as streaming media services such as YouTube, Pandora, Netflix, and Hulu. Most of this can be accomplished with the Chrome OS netbook.
I was not able to view Netflix videos on the Chrome OS netbook. Netflix videos stream with Silverlight and is not supported in Chrome OS. YouTube videos and Pandora had both worked seamlessly, as well as a new streaming music service I found called Grooveshark.
The biggest thing left out that I can see for a “common user” would be lack of local media storage. This device does have a wireless data connection (Verizon 3G) built in with 100 MB of data free per month for two years. However, if you are constantly traveling and you run out of the free data, there is no way to listen to your music while on the road without paying for more data.
It is quite difficult for common users to print on this device. You must have another conventional computer on with the Chrome browser running to print from your Cr-48. This defeats the purpose of having a light laptop with fast boot times. You can print easier with new cloud-based printers, but I doubt most people have them.
Common User Recommendation
The netbook is very light, portable and boots fast. This setup is ideal for a lot of users that may not be interested in a tablet in the future. I feel that my dad who would not like a fully touchscreen device could use the Cr-48 as a primary device. It would also serve as a great portable device for a person living on connected devices.
Power User Recommendation
This device could not be a primary device for a power user. Heavy video editing? Forget it. Lots of Windows applications? Forget it. Local media storage? Nope.
That being said, I think this could make for a great portable device. Great for traveling with a light device with full size keyboard that boots and awakes from sleep in under 10 seconds.