Monday, December 20, 2010

Cr-48 Review: Part One

I remember Google's announcements a few weeks ago for Android 2.3, Google Chrome OS, and the Cr-48 but I was not fully up to date on the latter. Last week I read a post where one could go onto Google's application page and request one. A full week has passed now and my Cr-48 showed up this evening.

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they were actually miniature laptops computers, one with a crippled Xandros Linux experience and the other a woefully out of date Windows XP instance scaled down to size.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".

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