Friday, December 17, 2010

The Bigger, the Beta

Just over a week ago, there was an early-morning knock at our door. (Okay, "early-morning" is relative, but it was before 8:30am which is early for any kind of courier delivery in domestic Manhattan.)

It was the arrival of Chrome's CR-48 - the new Google notebook. I had answered the "Would you like to test drive a Chrome notebook? Apply now" link at the top of my Chrome browser, not even 36 hours earlier, so I was surprised and delighted. However, I decided to delay opening the delivered box until I could share it with my teen, who was home for the day following minor surgery the previous day.Align Center

Predictably, I am writing this blog post from my CR-48. There are pros and cons of this notebook, most of which I will share.

Impressions After a Week of Steady Use
(These are probably similar to many already online. Only difference is that I'm not a techno pro.)
Set-up was fairly straight forward. However, as other testers have already indicated on the thousands of blogs detailing this process, the CR-48 wants to take your pic for your profile before you can access the "interior" of the beast. If you skip that step, there is a hack that explains how to use a favorite pic for this.

1. If you like desktops and third-party programs, the CR-48 is not for you. This notebook is like a portable browser, and that's about it. Its strengths lie in its immediacy (much like a touchscreen phone) and its simplicity. It's easy to use, and the OS is not bogged down by programs and distractions. The beauty of the CR-48 is being online, ALL THE TIME.

2. The touchpad. Oooooh, the touchpad. Not quite deplorable, but definitely not enjoyable. I like that Google has adopted Apple's "swipe" technology, for a more flexible touchpad experience. But the darn thing is just so....TOUCHY. Obviously, this notebook is still in the beta phase, and problems such as a cursor that jumps around the page (turning ME into the curser), sketchy response time to finger taps, and a general, overall feeling of annoyance will be addressed.

3. The appearance is bland. It doesn't even hint at "vanilla", it's so bland. Nondescript. In Google's own ad about the versatility and portability of the CR-48, stickers and logos appear on the notebook. I suppose I could add something like that...if I really cared enough to do it.

4. I LOVE the battery life. We're talking 8-hours, folks. In addition, the CR-48 doesn't heat up to levels capable of rendering male infertility (like my Macbook, oy!)

5. Many of the "apps" in the Google Webstore are no more than bookmarks to websites. *sigh*

6. My biggest frustration with the CR-48 is the inability to load photos onto it. Sure, I can use Picasa/Picnik/Flickr to store and edit pics - but how in the world am I supposed to GET THEM THERE?? grrrrr

7. The Chrome notebook is a TERRIFIC option for kids and homework. My son has used it most nights for his studies, and its speed and cloud-storage is beneficial. The only thing lacking in this regard is a FILTER. We loved BlueCoat's K9 filter, but don't have that option with a notebook onto which nothing can be loaded.

All in all, this is a good second computer. It would be great to use when on the road. I am interested in watching how it develops, and how brand companies will market it. What would be AWESOME is a Sony edition! Since they already have a Google TV, the chances are excellent that they will be one of the first companies to release a Chrome notebook. If it's sold for less than $300, this could corner the market - goodbye, netbooks.

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