Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cr-48 Review: Part Two

After fully charging last night I fired up the Cr-48 at 0640am to see how it would fare in real world use. The first issue was the Verizon 3G, in that it didn't have any. I completed the online form, entered my credit card info for authentication, received the Verizon confirmation then I waited...and waited...and waited. No joy. I used the toll free number in the email and called customer service, had to reset the 3G modem with the use of a command line terminal and was shortly on my way. I asked the customer service rep if this was happening a lot and she was more than happy to tell me that the recent Cr-48 activations were not going so well. Especially after the string of information filled with forward slashes and numbers have to be followed verbatim over the phone; she sounded as if she had already repeated most of these steps at least a hundred times.

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.

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