Tuesday, December 21, 2010
That was really the only drama on the way to getting up and running. Since my company email uses IMAP and a proper email client like Thunderbird, I cannot check email on my Cr-48. But I can do everything else like access DropBox, Twitter via the Seesmic app, Gmail, Google Reader, Documents, Salesforce, and the real web. I did try to view a short Hulu video and was reassured that while this machine is sleek and light, it is most certainly not a multi-media rig. So leave your Hulu shows to your PC or Apple TV/Roku box.
It is now 3:03pm and the battery is only at 47% with moderate use, in and out of standby. Keeping in mind that this is essentially the Chrome browser I did not do anything that I didn't already do on my other PC's. I got more use to the keyboard and the shortcut keys that are documented in the box as well as many of the same shortcuts in Chrome.
While it's fairly useful, I am struggling to understand who the target audience for this kind of device is. Those of us who willingly signed up for the Cr-48 prototypes were expecting the type of user experience we were in for but the average corporate/consumer PC user will not tolerate online only usage, an invisible filesystem, and doing without the occasional offline application or two. What they will like is the almost instant on/off capability, simplistic tabbed UI, and single focus use. If this ever makes it to the OEM's like Acer, Dell, and HP there will have to be some way to manage these unless they are true "netbooks" and just accessing webapps. So if they are lost, stolen, or destroyed all of the data still lives in the cloud and the user is simply just issued a new unit. No fuss no muss.
I recently sold my iPad in favor of a Samsung Galaxy Tab and I feel that the Cr-48 most closely resembles the former except with a keyboard. Like the iPad, the Cr-48 has a lot offer but it's still keeps feeling incomplete somehow. But even with obvious shortcomings, I applaud Google for making brave moves into the traditional OS space while at the same time, changing our ideas of what it means to compute.
Monday, December 20, 2010
After a full hour with Google's latest creation, the Cr-48, I am left wondering how and why Google decided to build this true "netbook". In the past two years I have owned everything from the first Asus EeePC 701, HP 1100 Tablet PC, to my current Acer netbook, and two full-size laptops by Dell and IBM respectively. And even though the netbook monikers were attached to the Asus and the Acer, they were actually miniature laptops computers, one with a crippled Xandros Linux experience and the other a woefully out of date Windows XP instance scaled down to size. But netbooks? Not really.
With only Google Chrome OS, the Cr-48 may just be the first real netbook in that there are no native applications, no visible file system, and no waiting to boot up or down. Upon boot the user is presented with a short introduction then, much like an Android phone, only one's Google username/password is needed to activate the unit.
So far the keyboard is straightforward mimicking a MacBook Pro's chiclets with a row of keys above the number row that gives direct commands like: volume up/down, fullscreen, brightness, power button, etc. The Cr goes in and out of standby just by opening and closing the lid. In fact, regaled in all flat black this looks like a leaner, meaner version of my Thinkpad T60 but without markings it is the geek version of a "blacked out" sports car built for stealth AND speed. The top and bottom has a rubberized feel as does the palm rest. The trackpad requires the biggest adjustment as it takes a two-finger touch to simulate a mouse right-click. But even this change is welcomed. Whoever Google teamed with to create this device left out all of the bling factor but by doing so, made it look better than most of the high-end laptops out in the market today. Did Google build this to actually push cloud computing or to simply go on the offensive for its browser market share? Maybe I'll ask them next time I'm out in Mountainview ;-)
With Google's Chrome Browser out for a while now, it is more of the same here. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. All of my Chrome apps, extensions, and settings were ported into my Cr-48 and were ready to use in about a minute.
I will post the second part of this review as soon as possible but so far the Cr-48 seems to be "nothing but Net".
Thursday, December 16, 2010
After re-reading this post about Joshua Topolsky's pitch for a "Continuous Client" and the with recent developments of Google's announcements of Chrome OS and Android 2.3/3.0, I believe we are just on the edge of Convergence Overlook. Google is creating two branches of computing platforms simultaneously: Android and Chrome OS. Even in Beta forms, there is no other company making the level of noise around pure online applications like Google has. Even in the beginning, when the first G1 came out in 2008, there were precious applications available in the Android Market because of the lofty visions of browser-based apps akin to Steve Jobs' claim in 2007, for the iPhone. Fast forward to the eve of 2011, and Android applications like Google's Chrome to Phone, Gmail, Talk, Voice, Maps, and even Skype now keep me connected from my PC, Android phone, and my Galaxy Tab.
It is not a coincidence that all of the above services are developed by Google with one exception, Skype. Along with Google, Skype has realized it's not the device or even the UI that matters, it's the connectivity and quality of service (QoS). If the QoS is usable and helps productivity, then users will flock to applications that keep them connected seamlessly.
In fact, I believe the OS of the future will be the Browser. Not in its current form however, but with AJAX, HTMLx, RIA, and yes even Adobe products like Air/Flash, the Web will be The computing platform carved into personal and corporate niches using various security permissions. Think about Facebook and Twitter for a moment, online communication is becoming as important and even more so than face to face as a medium that requires almost constant feeding and watering. And we are all complicit given this latest Forrester report that says Americans spend just as much time online as we do watching television.
All of this is making us a more mobile society but also more fragmented personally while being more connected socially. So with this new convergence and a possible blur between our real and online personas, which will you choose? It is already a balancing act for those of us who try to nurture both and I contend that the Continuous Client will not help us any better in the Future. The versions of You and Me and effectively "Us 2.o" still depend on who we really are and who we project ourselves to be.
So is the Continuous Client a computer interface or me and you?
Friday, December 10, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
It has been a long time since my last post so just as a refresher on myself my day job consists of working for a leading Linux distribution and in my after-hours I write for an Android site. So I am not the typical Apple user much less a customer of a Version 1.0 device that obviously has little to no value, right? Please read on….
I will spare you countless user videos and multi-angle pictures since Google can find those for your viewing pleasure and just give an honest hands on review of my iPad after five days of use. From the moment I finally decided to get myself the iPad I had multiple conversations with myself about what I would do with such a middling device. I finally succumbed because I figured the worst I could do is end up returning it, pay the restocking fee, and get it out of my system and not look back. I showed up at the Apple store on a Friday afternoon and after waiting for what seemed like an eternity, received an arrival email Saturday morning (funny how something you never wanted or needed before suddenly becomes a must-have object of desire).
True to Apple’s process of putting you in a line to wait for your name to be called to be in another line, I was swept away by a very bubbly Apple rep and after going through the extended warranty pitch got my hands on my iPad. Again, true to Apple form, since this is not a “real” PC but an Apple peripheral device I did not even take it out of the box as it has to be activated by an iTunes account. Fine, I did that and powered it up for the first time.
What greeted me was little changed from my 2G iPhone and my bought-and-sold iPod Touch’s BUT the iPad is simply stunning because of its screen. It is much more touch sensitive than either of the former devices yet not excessive, it just goes when you go and moves when you move. The swiping between screens is not just fast but FAST. This thing moves. I see the genius of Apple not letting their “iP-X” devices run multiple processes, because if they did they would get bogged down by threads, apps that access old data over and over, and what’s more – the dreaded battery live. As an Android guy I don’t completely agree, but I do understand it. iBooks is nice to show off but I am still testing to see if it is a real viable option to a physical book. I suspect this is the future of print and I need to just quit resisting. Also, my introduction to the device cannot be discussed if the battery life is left out. I did not charge the device initially and it lasted the advertised ten hours at least, so Apple has definitely cracked the code for an “all day” device.
I proceeded to download my standard apps: TweetDeck, Netflix, ABC player, various radio apps, Skype, an HD KJV Bible and they all work just like on my iPhone. The TweetDeck, Netflix, Bible, and ABC apps are optimized for the iPad, whereas the other ones are still iPhone ready. Which means they take up the same screen real estate as an actual iPhone. No real problem here as they will be come iPad-ized soon but the 2x function leaves them highly pixelated and unsightly, but functional. The only real problem I have had so far is a stuck pixel to the left of center but I’m going to have Apple look at it this week so we’ll see. This past week I have taken my iPad everywhere. After a hard reset the fist day, I finally got my Gmail and work e-mail working and it’s very useful to use out and about as I have a portable WiFi device with unlimted 3G, so no ATT 3G version needed.
I downloaded several movies onto it and they look very good, in fact, they look better on the iPad than my full size PC’s and is my primary reason for purchase. The Netflix app is essentially a mobile Safari browser plug-in and not native but it plays movies over WiFi very well and over 3G just okay. So I agree whole-heartedly that the iPad is not a device for creativity but for consumption. And if this is kept in mind by the user then it does actually what it’s made for and then some. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Apple iPad case. As you can see by the images above it is very slim and it folds back on itself to give a decent angle when typing on a table top and/or your lap, and it can double as a stand, but only on very flat and stable surfaces or else it will topple over as it’s top heavy.
All in all, I am very happy and surprised that I have come to use the iPad almost as a primary device. It has taken the place of one HP Tablet PC 1100, Dell Mini 9 and 10 netbooks, Asus Eee PC 900, Acer dual-boot netbook, Lenovo Thinkpad, built home desktop, you get the idea. I am doing 90% of my computing now from the Ipad and my Motorola Droid so my actions have spoken louder than my words.
(I purposely left out the argument against Apple’s walled garden approach to developing software as 99% of iPad customers will not care or know how they get their software, only that they do).