In depth: Google's Cr-48 Chrome notebook
Google sent notebooks loaded with Chrome OS to beta testers. Our reviewer took a deep dive into the new operating system.
Computerworld - My holiday gift season started early Thursday morning when the UPS guy pounded on my door and handed me a package. Inside was a notebook -- Google's much-discussed cloud-based Cr-48 Chrome OS laptop. The company announced the new laptop on Tuesday; it's available free of charge to test users selected for its pilot program.
What follows are my snap impressions of the Cr-48. I'll discuss the hardware of the actual computer itself, and then go into Chrome OS, and wrap up with my overall impressions of the user experience of the hardware and software working together. (For another viewpoint, check out JR Raphael's blog entry "Google's Chrome OS notebook: My first impressions".)
In the box
Inside the small briefcase-size cardboard box was the computer itself, its battery, a power cord and a power brick. The only documentation was a cardboard flyer informing you about safe-use practices for the computer and a second one with a quick rundown of the Cr-48's keyboard and basic features, and information about how to start it up for the first time.
A business card with Intel's logo was included in the package, so presumably the laptop comes with an Intel processor, but there was no indication about what kind. Similarly, the size of its memory and flash storage memory weren't indicated anywhere in the documentation. Presumably, if this actually goes on sale, customers shelling out real money for it will be greeted with a bit more documentation.
The Cr-48 is a matte black, anonymous-looking notebook that seems purposely designed to not draw attention to itself. The computer weighs 3.8 lbs.; it was light and comfortable on my lap (and remained cool as well). The case is a rubberized matte material; only the keyboard, touchpad surface, and webcam are slick and shiny. There's no branding anywhere on the Cr-48, and no stickers. Even the bottom of the computer is absolutely devoid of all labels and markings -- a look Google may well change in the production versions.
The overall design and build of the Cr-48 feels solid. This isn't a rugged "toughbook" by any means, but it certainly doesn't feel flimsy.
The display isn't glossy, and once I'd set the brightness at its highest setting, the screen seemed to feel "just right" to my eyes, even in a bright, sunny environment.
The screen is 12.1-in. diagonally. The system has a VGA output that lets you display on the notebook and an external monitor simultaneously, a webcam, built-in speakers and a sound output connector for headphones. A microphone is built in to the left to the webcam, but there's no sound input connector to connect an external mic.
The laptop has an SD memory card slot and a single USB port -- both of which have issues. Initially, I couldn't get the memory card slot to work, and when I plugged in a USB flash memory stick, I found there was apparently no way to access the contents of a USB drive through Chrome OS. At one point, I tried attaching a file to an e-mail by searching for the memory stick's directory under Gmail's "Attach a file" function. Nothing could be found.
There is, however, a work-around. I went to my profile in Facebook, clicked "Upload Photos" and then "Select Photos." The screen switched over to a basic Linux file navigator. I found my SD memory card listed under the "Media" folder and could access a JPEG image from it. I was able to access files from the USB drive this way as well. PC World's reviewer was able to achieve the same results using the online photo editing site Picnik.
The USB port did recognize a mouse when I plugged it in, and the mouse worked normally.
The Cr-48 does not have an Ethernet connection. The only way to get online is via Wi-Fi or its 3G modem (which runs on the Verizon 3G network).
Google Chrome OS
- Samsung Chromebook 2 review: Compelling -- but not without compromise
- Microsoft concedes Chromebooks are work-worthy
- One user's path to a Chromebook enterprise
- Google pushes Chrome app store with more money-making options for devs
- Google goes offline with Chrome Apps for Mac
- Chromebook Pixel review: A luxury laptop for life in the cloud
- Orlando tries out 600 Chromebooks
- In-depth: Google's Chrome OS and Samsung's Chromebook
- Google Chromebooks available for pre-order
- Visual tour: Google's Chrome OS
- 7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration OS migration is typically time-consuming and expensive. To make your next migration easy, follow these six recommendations when planning your project.
- Flying High on the Use of Red Hat Enterprise Linux Flybe was one of the 21 companies that were interviewed for quantitative results on their operations as part of an IDC ROI analysis....
- Who does NSS Labs "Recommend" for NGFW? In 2012, NSS Labs found that most available NGFW solutions "fell short in performance and security effectiveness." In 2013 NSS Labs noted "marked...
- 9 Essentials for a Complete Cloud-to-Cloud Backup Solution In 9 Essentials for a Complete Cloud-to-Cloud Backup Solution, we'll walk you through potential sources of data loss in the cloud and provide...
- Protecting Critical SaaS Data Before It's Too Late In this webinar, you'll hear how to avoid SaaS data loss through best practices from a panel of experts.
- What Does it Take to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience? The Two Top-Rated Online Retailers, B&H Photo and Crutchfield Electronics, Share Their Secrets Discuss practical CX tools and service methods such as contact center agents and the use of realtime speech analytics to help contact center... All Operating Systems White Papers | Webcasts