Chromebooks Live!

Sorry folks, but tablets, as neat as they are, aren't going to replace low-end laptops and that means the Chromebook still has a future.

I'll be the first to admit that while I like Chromebooks, I own a Samsung Series 5, Chromebooks also have serious problems. Still, the Chromebook is far from being dead.

My fellow ZDNet writer, Scott Raymond argues that the consolidation of WebKit, and Chromium open-source Web browsers source code trees means the end of a need for Chromebooks--and by extensions other lightweight laptops. Specifically, Raymond argues, "If we had the Chrome browser on an Android tablet, why would we want a Chromebook? For the price of a Chromebook you could pick up an Android tablet with a keyboard that connects via dock or Bluetooth. You would have the same functionality, plus the added capabilities of Android."

Why would I want a Chromebook? Because, while I like tablets a lot-I currently own and use a first generation iPad and a Nook Color--I also like having a single-unit, lightweight laptop.

My Samsung Chromebook, warts and all, has become my grab-and-go device. It weights next to nothing and it has a battery that can see me through an entire day of use. It also, and this is more to the point, lets me do everything I do with a tablet, and includes a built-in working keyboard. Sure, I could use a separate keyboard with my tablets, but with my Chromebook I don't need to worry with one.

Besides, the Chromebook is well on its way to being a lot more useful. After abandoning the ability to let its applications work off-line with Google Gears, Google is finally, as promised, bringing back this feature back with HTML5 compatible, off-line applications. The first will be off-line Gmail. This will be followed by off-line Google Docs and Calendar.

That's great news and it should help take care of one of my main problems with the current Chromebook operating system: The fact that Chrome OS and applications have real trouble working with local files on the solid-state drive (SSD).

Sure, I'll be able to use off-line Google applications on an Android tablet as well sometime soon. And, I might add, I'll be able to work with off-line Google apps. on iPads too. No one seems to have noticed that blending the WebKit and Chromium source trees will also bring this kind of HTML 5 off-line support to Apple's Safari Web browser as well in short order.

All that said, just because I can use a tablet like a laptop doesn't mean that I want to use a tablet as a laptop. For me, at least, tablets are still devices I use to consume information while laptops are what I use to create information.

So, I still think the Chromebook may have a bright future. That said, seriously, Google, Android and Chrome OS? You really want to support two operating systems? But, that's another matter for another day.

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