Early last week, after we dug out from a big weekend storm (and before another one hit us later in the week) I took a ride to my local FedEx customer service office where they were holding a package that I kept missing. It required a signature and I was hoping that it was some new education products that Dell PR was supposed to be sending me. Nothing like new toys on a snowday, right? It turned out, however, to be a second Chrome Notebook.
I had already received a Chrome Notebook (also known as the Cr-48 or just the Chromebook) late last year, not as part of their pilot program, but as an analyst test unit. For an early beta device, it was very impressive. So impressive, in fact, that my technophobic wife ended up loving it (and adopting it).
I have to say that I was happy to have one back. They go just about anywhere, they come with free data from Verizon (only 100MB/month, but if used judiciously to supplement the generally ubiquitous WiFi, it does the trick), and they sync up brilliantly with Chrome browsers on the rest of your computers. Overall, if you only need Web access (which is usually what we all need), then these little guys do just what they're supposed to do (and precisely what Google intended, namely to keep you in a web browser day in and day out).
I'm approaching this new notebook a bit differently than I did with my last tester, however. I'm staying far more true to the spirit of the pilot program and worrying less about industry implications of the device as I was wont to do with my analyst preview unit and just actively using the Cr-48, reporting bugs, asking questions, and submitting issues to Google.
So far, I've reported an issue with the sound (all I get is squealing static, regardless of what I'm listening to) and asked how to manually set my DNS (and have it stick; right now, as far as I can tell, it can only be done from the command line with a shell script). My ISP's DNS is generally much slower than either Google's or OpenDNS, but the Cr-48 just takes whatever DNS information comes from whatever DHCP server it hits. While I can obviously change the DNS handed out by my router at home, that doesn't help me as I move around.
I'm still mighty happy to have it, though. It can't replace my MacBook Pro, but more often than not, it's the laptop that will be in my bag wherever I might be wandering. Realistic 8 hours of battery life and non-stop access to my stuff since I've embraced Google Apps pretty fully is more than I can say for the MacBook I like so much.