Okay, so it's a slow tech news week so far. CES is over and we're nearly a month from the next big technology showcase. But this is good time to go over some old news that may still be relavent...
During the playoff game this past weekend (GO RAVENS!) I noticed an ad for the Samsung made Google Chromebook. Don't know if it was new ad, but it was the first time I'd seen it. The ad reminded me of a incident shortly before Christmas when someone asked me what exactly a Chromebook was, and to be honest, I didn't really know.
A Chromebook looks like a standard laptop, but instead of running Windows or Mac OS, it runs Google's Chrome OS. What makes this different is that Chrome OS is designed to be largely web based. While it does store data in interal memory and it is based on a Linux kernal, like Android, Chrome stores application and user data on the internet. This has two main advantages, the first being amazingly fast boot up time. Turning on a Chromebook is reported to take only 7 seconds or less, compared to 30 seconds to several minutes with other operating systems. I can see quick boot ups as a major selling point with many potential buyers. The second big avantage is that by using system on a chip technology and web based applications, the Chromebook itself will be cheaper and mechanically simpler then a traditional laptop, while the applications will automatically update more quickly and easily then other system based apps.
So what's the catch? Well, with many of it's applications and saved data saved on a server in the Cloud somewhere, many functions are likely to have limited functions or not work at all when not connected to a network. To combat this obvious shortcoming, at least two of the three models already out from Acer and Samsung have built in 3G wireless. Google has made plans with Verizon so that Chromebook buyers who opt for the 3G models will receive 100Mb of free data a month for the first year of ownership, with additional data available for an additional fee. Not sure yet how I feel about so much of my data and applications sitting on someone else's server, but if 90% of what you do on a computer involves the web anyway, a Chromebook could be an economical solution to your computing needs.