Chromebook – A Viable Option?

August 29, 2011 3:00 pm 0 comments

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Google Chromebook is this the future


Samsung’s Chromebook is the UK’s first notebook based entirely on ‘cloud-computing’, something becoming increasingly popular among social/media hungry users that wish to access their files anywhere on the move.  But does it perform well?

Google is taking baby steps towards dominating the ‘cloud-computing’ era already, something that, as a service, is still in its infancy. At first glance, these Internet-optimised notebooks don’t seem to add anything new – so what is all the fuss about? First, lets see what you get for your hard-earned £350 – the hardware and some key features are outlined below.

Design Features and Hardware

To look at, the Chromebook is small and stylish, with curved edges, accommodating curved keys as well, and a thin bezel round the screen. It’s not heavy by any means, but weighs just as much as a normal netbook, which is a little surprising considering its diminutive size. The unit itself is well built, and feels sturdy, and even with the white cover and logos it doesn’t look or feel cheap.

The hardware specs are pretty good too, with a netbook-worthy 2Gb RAM, 1.66ghz Intel Atom processor and integrated Intel graphics. Because the Chromebook is designed for ‘cloud-computing’ there is only a 16gb SSD (solid-state drive) as all your files are stored online, and requiring a password at log-in means it will stop thieves from accessing your files and stealing your data.

Key Features

This brings us to some of the core features of the Chromebook. Because there are no applications to load, the boot-time to the login screen is just ten seconds, and waking from hibernation takes just 2 – comparable to ‘instant on’ devices such as the iPad2. Not being able to install programs on it takes some getting used too, everything is available as an app/half book-mark in your browser, but the Chrome OS is fast, performs well and looks good.

Currently only available in 3G, the WiFi version is on it’s way soon, with the monthly price plans covering all data requirements, as well as all future OS updates, cloud file-hosting and applications.  Utilising HTML5 allows you to use some applications even when offline, and with advanced technology, no malware or viruses will enter your system, and the Chromebook is actually designed to perform faster with each software update.

It does, however, struggle when it comes to video playback; the most common file types such as .AVI are not currently supported, and high-definition playback was choppy.  The sound is rather underwhelming too, with just the slightest amount of background noise you will find the speakers cranked all the way up and still straining to be heard.  So it’s not the best choice for those of us that are media-hungry, but as this is primarily designed for business users, I guess that’s not a major issue.

The Chromebook is asking much of it’s consumers – to leave their PC/Laptop comfort zone and move all of their work online.  This is a great idea in theory, but will it actually work on a day to day basis?  Unfortunately, the short answer is no, however Samsung’s Chromebook is undoubtedly the benchmark, and future models will only get better.

For the same price, you can get a Windows 7 netbook, with all the familiar programs, connectivity, and all the other things required.  No doubt in a couple of years this platform will be at the forefront – Google certainly knows how to lead the way, but for now the advice is to save your money and hold off until the platform is further developed.



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