The new Chromebooks rock and cr-48 owners will have less to envy in a month

The new Chromebooks rock and cr-48 owners will have less to envy in a month

Summary: I've been using the new Samsung third-generation Chromebook since last week after Google sent me a test unit. Suffice to say it pretty much rocks.

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TOPICS: Browser
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I've been using the new Samsung third-generation Chromebook since last week after Google sent me a test unit. Suffice to say it pretty much rocks. It has been thoroughly reviewed elsewhere but I will give the highlights here. Like previous versions of the Chromebook (both the cr-48 a prototype from Google and the second generation commercial devices from Samsung an Acer), the new Samsung is thin and light and has awesome battery life. The new Sandy Bridge processors make a remarkable difference in overall performance.

In fact, I have to disagree a bit with the CNET review linked above. While the review got all of the technical details right, the conclusion that the new Chromebooks represented too great a compromise over other similarly priced notebooks misses the mark. For the target audience (enterprises heavily invested in Google's ecosystem and web power users) this isn't a compromise, but a very viable, conscious choice to take a different approach to computing.

Last week I suggested that everyone will be using Chrome OS in the next few years. My suggestions were met with more than a degree of skepticism. However the latest version of Chrome OS featured on the new Samsung Chromebooks and related Chromeboxes is the real story here. The new windowed interface with dockable icons and shortcuts will be familiar enough to make mainstream PC users feel at home but remains light and sleek enough to appeal to power users and those who valued many aspects of earlier Chrome OS iterations. The interface initially reminded me of Ubuntu's Unity; this is a good thing because it combines familiar mobile design cues with the windows and tabs most of us know and love. More importantly it makes great use of the small screen.

We've been hearing talk of the merger of Android and Chrome OS for over two years now. This version of Chrome OS certainly give clues about how this might happen without alienating traditional PC users.

Unfortunately, the original cr-48 types distributed to journalists and early adopters won't be upgradeable to this version of the OS. Because it represents a substantial upgrade, this was disappointing to say the least. Not that working in a Chrome browser window exclusively is a bad thing but the new version of Chrome OS is a genuine improvement. One of Google's major pitches in favor of buying a Chromebook is that is "always new". OS update are pushed down regularly and frequently. Suddenly these little cr-48's started looking very old.

Rumor had it but the pokey little processors inside the cr-48 just couldn't keep up with the new version of Chrome OS. Fortunately though, according to Google PR, an update is on the way in four to five weeks that contains optimizations that will allow the cr-48 to run the latest version of chrome OS. So, cr-48 owners, keep your eyes peeled - that tough little black notebook will be new again shortly.

And if you're still toying with the idea of a Chromebook, the original Samsungs and Acers are still available for $299 and will run updated versions of the operating system. The latest Samsungs start at $449. Not small change, but well worth consideration.

Topic: Browser

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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93 comments
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  • I wonder who are the other 5 people using these things

    This is going to be Google next project to the chopping block, along with google tv, ....
    josephvba@...
    • for sure they are not the same

      five guys using WP7, err I mean the 500 people
      theo_durcan
    • for sure they are not the same

      billions of guys using Windows, err I mean the billions of people
      William Farrel
  • Yawn.... Seriously....YAWN!!!

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
  • i wonder

    how much people get paid to talk like this about Chrome Books.

    As i understand it, if your internet goes dead, your chomebook basically dies?
    danjames2012
    • internet going down?

      Seriously, when is the last time your internet went down? Its like saying an xbox and ps3 basically dead during a blackout.
      Jean-Pierre-
      • Downtime.

        I lost service last week for nearly 6 hours after a construction crew severed a fiber line.

        And two months before that, my ISP had an equipment failure that killed service for nearly a day.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • What?

        You've never lost internet connection anywhere? Where do you live? I'd like to move there.
        dsa791
      • .

        Our office is in an industrial estate where there is lots of building work going on etc, last month somebody cut through the cables and the net was down for 7 hours.
        danjames2012
      • no it is not.

        suppose you have a writing assignment to finish by tomorrow, and your connection went dead (just a month ago our router died), and now what?
        ForeverSPb
        • re: No it's not.

          In this day and age, you can tether your phone, visit the local library or even a Starbucks. That's what.
          Allenric Amaranth
      • Yes. It is.

        @ForeverSPb: I have a Cr-48.

        You would continue to type away and save as .doc file to the 16GB SSD or a thumb drive.

        Next?
        tw1975
      • So?

        Other than using photoshop or doing video editing, if the network is down, I've no reason to be sitting in front of a computer!

        After hurricane Ike I had internet as soon as I got my generator started -- basically my DSL never was out. OTOH the cable TV didn't come back until two weeks after utility power was restored.
        wally_333
      • It happens

        Most internet services do not by default include any sort of battery backup or UPS system - FiOS is the only one and AFAIK that is only if one bundles their landline service in with their internet (for 911 purposes and it only lasts 90 minutes). I have a somewhat unique situation as I have a natural gas generator that powers my entire home in the case of a power outage - I bought the house from an older couple and it was a necessity for them and a major buying point for me...

        Point is that most people lose internet during power outages and having a laptop that [i]depends[/i] on being connected to the internet during a power outage makes it as useful as a similarly sized paperweight.
        NonFanboy
        • Re: It Happens

          It does. But offline apps make emails and documents available (so you keep working and save) that will sync later with your Google Account.

          You're not completely dead in the water these days.
          Allenric Amaranth
      • Two weeks ago. thanks Comcast

        Seriously this happens all the time. My previous residence it was about once a month. My daughters place has lost it at least 5 times in the last 9 months, a couple for 2-3 days at a time. Both of us in populated areas, hundreds of miles apart. It's not at all ad uncommon as some more lucky people would like to believe.
        Johnny Vegas
      • Going Down - Paper Due

        @ Jean-Pierre. The Internet connection going down happens everyday. Every time I am out of range, I lose my Internet connection.

        @tw1975. No. Either you've not been in school recently or you go where you cannot turn in you paper via school site or e-mail. Usually professors require the paper to be turned in by 11:55 P.M. (mainly to avoid the 12:00 midnight/noon dilemma), so paper actually due by midnight via university site. One time the entire neighborhood lost power, that means the repeaters were down. I drove to a McDonalds elsewhere and turned in my paper. That was 2 years ago. Thumb drive doesn't apply, you've missed your deadline. (Don't think that I didn't prepare, paper was assigned at 8:00 A.M. due by midnight - prof wanted to see how we could write in that time frame - it was baseline for the course, first day. It was a surprise)
        ManoaHI
      • I lost service last night for several hours

        but I could still work on my local server and watch my videos etc. Internet all-in is not an option and it never will be in my household. In my work place, the internet was down for the WHOLE global company one day last month!

        People need to get real with this cloud and always connected thing.
        12312332123
      • My internet (Comcast) goes down a few times each month.

        Sometimes for a few minutes, occasionally for a few hours, but I can honestly say it happens on a regular basis. If I worked from home, it would be a serious issue for me, but it is fortunately not that drastic a situation for me.
        mlashinsky@...
      • What if you need to "save money"

        And cut Internet expenses? You just got yourself a brick.
        themarty