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Google ChromeBook: The world's first true cloud notebook

June 23, 2011

I recently had an opportunity to obtain a new Google ChromeBook. As a matter of fact I am creating this blog on it as we speak. For those of you that do not know the buzz, the ChromeBook is a laptop with the Google Chrome OS. This operating system is nothing but a web browser and all computing is done in the cloud. There is some local storage, but that is really intended for the file transfer of music, documents and pictures. I have tried to use it as much as possible in place of my Lenovo ThinkPad and my iPad over the last week. The hardware is nice; it is light and reminds me of the form factor of a MacBook Air. It has an integrated webcam that only works with Google chat (for now). The battery time is about eight hours and the boot time is incredibly fast, even faster than the cold boot time of my iPad. It integrates with my Google apps account to give me instant access to my email and other Google applications. The browser is flash enabled, which is an upgrade from the browser on my iPad. The quick boot, flash support and laptop form factor quickly made it my first choice for web browsing over my PC and tablet. However this is where its advantages ended. The hardware is a bit underpowered and even low resolution flash videos can be choppy. However, to be fair I am using the Google CR-48 hardware. From what I understand the Samsung and the Acer hardware is far superior. For content creation, Google apps is limited in capability compared to Microsoft Office 2010 (my primary productivity suite). I found that I needed to access my laptop for document creation. At this point, there is also no access to my company resources. Citrix does have an HTML5 receiver client on the horizon that runs strictly from a web browser. From what I have seen of it so far it will bring HDX straight to your web browser. This will turn my ChromeBook into a thin client and give me the access I need to my corporate applications. For personal usage I can’t run my apps. Many of the tasks that I do on my tablet such as, playing games, reading magazines, reading books and watching movies will either never work well on the Chrome Book or will be a long time coming before they can work to the level I expect them to. The final thing is offline use, without the Internet this device is useless. They do provide me with limited free 3G connectivity and the option to expand the plan. While that is helpful there still would be times when I am offline. With my other devices I can do work, read content and play games. All and all I think this is a good concept that is a little ahead of its time. Although the browser is a large part of our computing lives, we still do a lot of tasks without it. Once the new browser based Citrix Receiver is released I can see business adoption happening at a faster pace than consumer adoption. At this point apps are king, and I am not certain they will be dethroned by a browser anytime soon.

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