Saturday, January 28, 2012

Using Google Chrome OS

This is a late Saturday afternoon, and after a leisurely day, I am sitting in my basement lab with my prototype Google Cr-48 Chromebook, a netbook that Google was considering producing. They sent quite a few prototype units out to perspective users back in December 2010, and I was fortunate enough to hear about it early in the program and apply for one. I got mine back on December 21, 2010, just in time for Christmas!

The unit wasn't real fast in prototype form. It had a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CPU. Later, when the software and hardware were ready to release, both Samsung and Acer produced, and released, their own Chromebook models that had slightly beefier specifications. The form factor, 12.1", remained the same, the SSD drive, keyboard, and display, as far as I know, remained the same in the final units, but the CPU was kicked up a notch or two. I think one model had a 1.8 GHz, low power consumption Atom chip, and there may have even been a low powered Duo Core Atom introduced.

If that is in fact the case, then those would make pretty darn good systems. As it is, this is a solid system. Out of all of my hardware (home and work, for that matter) the keyboard and display are as good or better as anything else I have.

Boot time, hibernation time, and shutdown time easily outpace ANYTHING else that I have. How does a ten second boot time on LOW POWERED equipment sound? How about a one second hibernation time or a one second wake up from hibernbate sound? Even wireless now connects better than it once did - just a few seconds.

With this unit, 5-10 seconds after opening the lid, I can be editing or at least calling up Web pages to view. So it's great when I want to read stuff on line. What's even better, now that I have a 4G LTE Verizon Wireless Mifi unit, I can do Wifi anywhere I can get a Verizon signal, which is most anywhere I go around here. So if I am so inclined I can bring this Chromebook and my small pocket sized Mifi along. The Chromebook has better battery life (8-10 hours) than the Mifi (~3 hours), but that is enough before plugging in most of the time.

I used to take this unit to Borders and use their Internet cafe. Now with fast 4G LTE Mifi access, I can do a lot more than that!

I wonder if these things will make a comeback or if the tablet age is going to render them dinosaurs? I can tell you that tablets may do a few things these don't, but the reverse is also true. These are still faster and boot quicker than most tablets, but it is the display and keyboard, plus the battery life, that beat the pants off the tablets or smart phones. I could see carrying around a smart phone and one of these instead of a phone and tablet or phone and laptop. Mind you, I do little of either. I value my time and privacy too much. When I carry devices around, usually it is more to "test out" specific features or do some research than it is to "remain connected" at all times. As much as I use the Internet (probably anywhere from ten to fourteen hours a day at least four or five days a week) I usually scale back on weekends. Today, I may do four or five hours (but little to no TV; I RARELY, if ever, watch TV during the week). Tomorrow, I may use a computer a similar amount, but not more than that.

So for me, while I use computers a lot and I am interested in this kind of technology, being imprisoned by it is something that I STRONGLY avoid!

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