Friday, January 28, 2011

My review of Google OS (on the Cr-48)

First, I am typing this on the Cr-48 running Google OS. I signed up for the pilot program a couple of months ago and didn't give it any further thought. After all, what are the chances of them actually giving me a unit? Well, guess what was waiting for me when I arrived home this evening? Yep! A brand new laptop (more like netbook) with Google OS installed. These are my initial reactions:

  • when I first heard about Google OS being based upon the chrome browser, my first thought was how will they deal with the *claustrophobia* that some people (ok me) will experience at being confined to a single window? Well they didn't deal with the issue. So that was the first thing I noticed. It just feels like I am being confined to a single browser instance
  • What do you mean "everything is in the cloud"? Literally, everything is in the cloud! There's no file system. Personally, I think it's a mistake that Google didn't even create an abstraction to replace the file system. Nothing says that your "c:\" drive or your "desktop" has to be physically on the computer. Google could have compromised by layering a facade over cloud-based storage (i.e. Google docs) to make it look like a normal computer. That was one of the first things my wife asked me when she saw the Cr-48.
  • The hardware is surprisingly devoid of any branding. It's just a little black box. No serial numbers or model numbers. Since these units are just for testing the OS (as opposed to actually being for eventual sale to end users), I suppose the lack of identification can be excused.
  • A lot of noise has been made over the keyboard lacking a dedicated CAPS lock key (it's been replaced by a search button)..but I think the bigger deal is getting rid of the Function keys. Ever tried to figure out the combination keys to activate the functions keys on a laptop? Is it Fn+F7 to switch to an attached external monitor? Who knows...it differs on each laptop. On the Cr-48, the keys in the top row by default perform the actions depicted on them. Wanna increase the volume...no Fn key required. 
  • I am not sure what the official battery life is but the unit is saying I have over 6 hours left on an 86% charge. That's pretty good.
  • You know all those junk documentation and papers that come with new Windows computers and laptops? Well none of that here. Just the laptop, 1 page for the FCC radio interference warning and another page to describe the keyboard layout. No mini-booklet containing outdated OS information. No restore disk.
  • It has an SD Card slot but nothing happened when I inserted a card. And trying to attach a file to a gmail message presented me with a blank "file open" dialog.
I am going to try to use the laptop 80% of the time over the next few days and then write another post. BTW, when Google OS was first announced 18 months ago, I called it vaporware