Google Cr-48 Chrome OS Notebook: First Impressions


I’ve been using the Cr-48 for a couple of weeks now and my initial reactions are mostly good. There are still a few drawbacks but all in all the Chrome OS is still a work in progress and it seems like every time they roll out an update it addresses something that was bugging me.

The good: I never thought I would like having a 13″ notebook of any kind but I have to say that I am now sold on the concept. The Cr-48 in particular is lightweight, has a great screen and a top notch keyboard. I’ve heard from some other people with different 13″ notebooks that the keyboard can often be an issue. The Cr-48 keyboard is now one of my favorite keyboards to type on.

I love how lightweight and user friendly the entire system is. Since the OS is served up from the Cloud there’s less than a two second delay from sleep to wake and once you get used to that you wonder how you ever lived without it.

The Cr-48 also has a lot of very handy keys added specifically for the Chrome OS and notebook use in general. Once you get used to using these keys regularly they really speed up your productivity.

Some things do take some getting used to, like the trackpad on this thing, which is huge. There are no buttons so there are certain things you have to learn like, one finger tap is left-click, two fingers tapping is the same as right-clicking. One finger sliding around moves the mouse but two fingers on the trackpad sliding around scrolls up and down, left and right.

The bad: The Cr-48 will likely fill the needs of 90% of the users out there. The places where it falls short are the places you expect it to fall short and they’re places that most people aren’t concerned with.

As expected, doing any real heavy lifting on the Cr-48 feels next to impossible. Much of this is due to the hardware just not being built to handle the load but some of it comes from the current state of affairs with cloud computing. Photoshop for instance has photoshop.com but if you’re used to using the desktop version chances are you’re going to find this, or any other cloud solution, seriously lacking.

File management is another issue. Since the Cr-48 is specifically designed for cloud computing it only comes with a 10GB hard drive and even so, Chrome OS has a lot of improving to do on how you can access these files and what you can do with them. I’m regular Dropbox user and while there are Chrome plugins and extensions none of them seem like a real solution. Ideally what you would like to see is a way for Chrome OS to integrate with Dropbox, or some other cloud storage, and integrate that into the OS so when you’re “downloading” or “uploading” files the system automatically hooks into your cloud account rather than trying to access files on your hard drive.

Conclusion: For a product that’s still in beta I’d have to say that I’m pretty blown away by the Chrome OS and very excited about it’s potential. Once the Cr-48, or whatever its successor, is comes to market I would have no problem at all recommending this to friends and family, I’d even purchase one myself.

In the two weeks I’ve had the Cr-48 it’s become my main go to computer and I find myself using my desktop (I haven’t touched my laptop since I got this) less and less.

Although there are still some quirks and issues that need ironing out you don’t get the feeling that this OS is far from there. Google recently opened up a Google Groups to Chrome OS Pilots and have been great about listening to feedback and offering solutions. It’s definitely cool to see this new form of computing, what I believe is the future of computing, in such an early stage and be a part of beta testing it and knowing your feedback is going into a product that’s likely to be around for a long, long time.

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