Clearing the Cache

Google CR-48 Chrome OS Notebook

I came home an evening a few days before Christmas to an unmarked box at my doorstep. As the kids were going upstairs to bed, my curiosity got the best of me and I opened the box to find my very own Google Chrome OS notebook! It was quite a surprise! Sure, I signed up for one, but I didn’t think I’d get selected.

I agree with most of the reviews on the web so far that the design of the laptop is pretty cool. Or there-lack-of design. It has no logos, stickers, or branding. Just a black laptop. With a textured surface that makes it feel more rugged and sturdy.

For those not addicted following the technology industry, the Google Chrome notebook is an experiment to see if we can use a computer that is only a web browser. I’m going to start by saying that it’s too soon and there is a lot of re-thinking before living only on the web is viable.

Still, I’ll give props for Google taking a chance. I’ve found that ever since receiving a Macbook for work, I’ve found a laptop to be indispensable to daily life. I feel almost guilty that the Macbook has more uses at my home than at work; where I usually bring it to meetings to take notes, occasionally do browser testing, and impromptu coding sessions with someone. At home, the Macbook serves as a recipe book, watching Netflix on the couch, watching web videos, blogging, and more. How it quickly powers on from sleep was a convenience I didn’t realize I needed until I would boot up my PC and wait a few minutes before I could do anything useful.

When I started using the Google notebook, I tried to make it replace the Macbook. Over the last two weeks, I can’t say that it can. But I have hopes that coming improvements to Google Chrome OS will make it come closer.

First off, the Chrome notebook is lacking polish. There are apps on the Chrome web store that can’t install or can’t work on the Chrome OS notebook! That’s very confusing for a user. Secondly, since the whole computer is just a browser, I can’t install software on it except what is on the web store. Third and last, the driver support is pretty primitive if I can’t plug in a USB thumb drive to the one USB port on the notebook.

One great perk is the free two-year of 3G internet service. Granted, it’s capped at 100 MB a month, I’m hoping to see how my life could be “improved” having access to internet anywhere I have the Chrome OS notebook. It was handy at the Portland Swing Dance Club board meeting I attended.

Google also develops another operating system for cellphones, the Android OS. I’m curious as to what Chrome OS could offer that is better than Android, since there is so much overlap in their target audiences and uses.

I guess I’m thankful for a free and decent laptop if Chrome OS goes away. I’ll probably end up installing a flavor of Linux if that happens and it would be a great terminal machine for home.