The Chrome OS experiment: 2 weeks with Google's new Chrome computers

By JR Raphael (@jr_raphael)

Google Chrome OS

Google's Chrome OS is an interesting concept: You abandon the notion of a computer containing your world and instead embrace the idea of living on the Web -- storing your data online and running your apps from the cloud, all via a simple and easily replaceable machine.

I've been intrigued by Chrome OS since its introduction in 2010. I used Google's Cr-48 test notebook for months and then turned my attention to the first commercial Chromebooks upon their launch last May. After reviewing the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook, I was impressed enough to buy one of my own; I still use it extensively today.

For me, the Chromebook is a tool for travel -- I rely on it heavily when heading out on the road, particularly for business-related trips -- and also a device for quick computing around the house, away from my desk. Sure, I use an Android tablet, too, but some things are just quicker and simpler in Chrome OS's stripped down PC-like-environment.

For all their assets, though, Google's Chromebooks aren't without their share of problems. Software limitations aside, my biggest beef has been speed: Last year's models are pretty low-end machines, and it's all too easy to bog them down by opening too many tabs and windows. While Chrome OS itself is light and speedy, the hardware has thus far held it back.

Google Chrome OS Chromebook, Chromebox

That's why I was eager to try Google's newly launched second generation of Chrome devices. Announced this week, the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 and Samsung Chromebox Series 3 promise to breathe new possibilities into the Chrome OS concept (even if their prices aren't exactly a breath of fresh air). Of course, Google itself is constantly breathing new possibilities into Chrome OS via its frequent over-the-air software updates -- but we'll get to that more later.

Rather than rushing through a traditional review of the new Chrome OS computers, I thought it'd be interesting to immerse myself in them for a full two weeks and truly get to know what it's like to live with the devices. I'll rely on the new Samsung Chromebook and Chromebox for the majority of my computing needs these next several days, and I'll take you along for the ride -- sharing my impressions on everything from the updated hardware to the evolved software and the overall experience of embracing Google's cloud-centric vision.

Android Power Twitter

I'll check in every couple days with new thoughts and insights (and will continue to cover the Android world in the meantime as well, of course). If there's anything you want to know about the next-gen Chromebook/Chromebox/Chrome OS experience, just give me a shout: You can leave any questions in the comments on this page, or ping me via social media. My contact info is below.

Welcome to the cloud, my friends. Our journey starts now.     

The Chrome OS Experiment: The Complete Series

The experiment begins: 2 weeks with Google's new Chrome computers

Getting to know Samsung's new Chromebook

Samsung Chromebox: Chrome OS meets the desktop

Chrome OS in-depth: Cloud-centric simplicity, evolved

Chrome OS offline: Using a Chromebook without the cloud

Chrome OS reviewed: The final verdict on Google's cloud platform

JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tasty technology. You can find him on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

Article copyright 2012 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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