Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Google Chromebook: the good, the bad and the beta

Howard Wen | Feb. 2, 2011
When Google first started giving away the Cr-48 in early December, lots of reviewers posted their first impressions after driving the Chromebook around the block a couple of times. We’ve taken the Chromebook out on a two-month test drive to see how it performs in real-world conditions.

Despite its stain-soaking properties, we still do like the feel of the computer's rubberized exterior. You get a good sense that your fingers are securely gripping onto the Cr-48 -- it doesn't feel like a cheap, plastic toy.

Don't like: No Ethernet

You'd think including an Ethernet interface would be a trivial cost, but there is none. The only way to get on the Internet with it is through its Wi-Fi or Verizon (VZ) 3G modem. We're guessing this is Google's intent to encourage you to think of the Cr-48 as a mobile device.

Like: Free 100MB with Verizon 3G

True, you'll definitely use up this monthly quota fast if you spend it, for example, watching a lot of YouTube videos. Still, 100MB for free is better than nothing.

If you don't want to pay Verizon for an increased quota (up to 5 GB for $50 per month), then we have a tip on how to effectively use your allotted 100MB: Many popular sites offer scaled down versions of themselves that cut back on images and JavaScript, presenting mostly the text content, meant for viewing on smartphones. You can often access them by substituting the letter "m" where you might normally enter "www" in their web address: m.cnn.com, m.facebook.com, m.gmail.com are examples.

Don't like: Picture perfect -- or not

When you first sign on to claim ownership of the Cr-48, it requires that you let it take a snapshot of you. Try to look your best, because you cannot redo or replace it with another shot later (unless you reset the computer by forcing it into recovery mode).

Like: You can hack it

Google doesn't mind if people tinker around with the inner-workings of the Cr-48. You can access the computer's terminal shell ("developer mode") by simply flipping a switch within the computer's battery compartment.

Some of the more Linux-savvy recipients of the Cr-48 have figured out how to get other operating systems running on it, including Ubuntu.

Don't like: No USB and SD card support

The Cr-48 comes with an SD flash memory slot, but Chrome OS does not allow you to access the contents of an SD card that you stick into it. The same is true if you plug a USB flash memory stick into its USB port.

Future access is likely: type about:flags in the Chrome OS address bar, and you'll find "Advanced File System" listed. Although this can be enabled, we still were not able to access the contents of external flash memory media that we stuck into the computer.

 

Previous Page  1  2  3  4  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.