Friday, December 10, 2010

A day with CR-48

I wrote yesterday about receiving the Google Chrome OS notebook, dubbed the CR-48. I had most of the day today to spend using this new notebook to get work and personal stuff done and wanted to share my first impressions.

The Good

  • Like Android, the Chrome OS has a great "getting started" experience. If you have ever used a Google service, and especially if you use the Chrome browser, your Chrome OS will auto build for you when you login. The whole process is super fast (see the bad for one caveat).
  • Working with just a browser is surprisingly easy to do. Just need to find the right apps. (see below)
  • The keyboard is really amazing to type on. Super responsive keys and great key spacing. The changes that they have made to a standard keyboard are almost universally great. I do miss a) the home & end key, and b) the delete key, otherwise all is great with the keyboard.
  • The wifi seems to work just as well as the other devices (netbook, ipad, laptop) in the house. Connects up very fast on resume from sleep.
  • The speed at boot and restore is fast like has been claimed.
  • Battery life is decent.  I got about 6.5 hours today with moderate to heavy usage. I have the display set pretty close to full, and mobile broadband off.
The Bad
  • I am a netbook user, so I understand what it is like to use a Atom processor based machine on a daily basis. With my EEE PC I would say that things can be slow, but not to the point where it is annoying. With the CR-48 I cannot make that claim, it can be frustratingly slow to use. Granted, this is a beta hardware platform, running a beta OS, but still for an OS built on the premise of fast web access it can be painful.
  • This has been said, a lot, but the touchpad is horrible. Hopefully it is a software issue, but I think perhaps it is just a crappy touchpad. I really wish there was a keystroke to disable it, because it is easy to bump while typing.
  • I mentioned the ease of setup, and that is 99.9% true. I need to add though the Chrome's browser sync is not configured by default. About 99% of the magic when logging in for the first time is generated by browser sync. It would be nice to see that enabled by default.

The App Suite

I am limited to working online, so I have started to build a collection of Web Applications to get everything done. Many (most) of these apps are tools I used prior to owning this notebook, but they take on even more importance without the option of rolling back to apps.

  • PIM Functions (Calendar, Contacts, Tasks) - All handled by Google
  • E-mail - Handled by Gmail and OWA (for work email)
  • Notepad - Using the Scratchpad App
  • Photo Management - Picasa
  • Photo Editing - Piknik (with Picasa Integration)
  • Music - Pandora & Streaming from Pogoplug
  • Screen Capture - There are a number of extensions, but all seem to fail to install on Chrome OS
  • Office Suite - Google Docs
  • File Storage - Google Docs and Pogoplug
  • Screencasting  - Still looking (worried about this one - especially where quality is concerned)
I will continue to use this netbook as my main day to day computer where I can.  It does not replace my main desktop/media center, but I will put aside the EEE PC for a while.

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