Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Google's Cr-48 netbook

If you haven't heard, Google is releasing its own operating system, called Chrome OS (check out this marketing video). It's based on Linux, but is tailored solely for use with online, web-based applications, such as Gmail and Google Docs. They are also releasing a netbook, called Cr-48, that comes installed with Chrome OS. The whole idea is that all your data is stored in the (mysterious, but reliable) cloud, so if something bad happens to your computer, none of your data is lost. It's almost like we're returning to the dummy-terminal days of yore. A pre-production version of the netbook has been given to a number of people so that Google can get feedback on the device and improve upon it before releasing it to the public.

One thing that differentiates Cr-48 from other netbooks is the keyboard. Google modified it slightly to better integrate it with the OS. The "Caps Lock" key was replaced with a "Search" key, which opens a new tab in the browser. The function keys (F1, F2, etc) were replaced with keys that perform tasks such as controling the brightness of the screen, controlling the speaker volume, and going back and forward in the browser.

The touchpad works as follows: Tap it with one finger for a left mouse click, tap it with two fingers for a right mouse click, drag two fingers across its surface to scroll. People online have expressed frustration with this setup, but this is exactly how the touchpad of my Asus Eee netbook functions and I'm satisfied with it. Cr-48 comes with a single USB port with extremely limited functionality. It doesn't support anything other than a mouse or keyboard, not even a thumb drive. It comes with an SD card slot, although Chrome OS currently doesn't recognize it. A headphone jack is included and is fully functional. It has a 16GB solid state hard drive.

In terms of internet connectivity, Wi-Fi and 3G (which is on Verizon's network) are supported. You get a free 100MB per month of 3G bandwidth for the first two years. The netbook doesn't have an Ethernet jack, so you're limited to wireless connections. It comes with a VGA port, allowing you to plug in a larger monitor or a projector.

The idea of an OS which stores all of its applications and data in the cloud is an interesting concept, but I'm in no hurry to start using it. Even though Google provides very well designed online applications, I would imagine that they are not as powerful as their desktop equivalents. Cr-48 sounds more like something you'd take with you on the road or to the coffee shop to do casual work.

1 comment:

digital signatures sharepoint said...

I am eagerly waiting for release of Chrome OS.I am fond of Google products one which I use daily is chrome browser .Due to the information listed by Google about Chrome OS I will surely give it a try and I believe that it will be at par to expectations.When the release is scheduled?