Home' LAPTOP Magazine : February 2011 Contents News & TreNds
Laptop | February 2011
Though the official release of its cloud-based
Chrome OS is not yet here, we got our hands
on a prototype Chrome netbook. Known as the
Cr-48 (for the element Chromium 48), the 12.1-inch
laptop will never be sold commercially, but it offers
a detailed preview of the first Chrome OS systems,
expected to launch in mid-2011. So what’s it like to
use a browser-only PC?
Although just a black prototype, the Cr-48 chassis is
shaped like a last-generation plastic MacBook, right
down to the hinge and the full-button touchpad. Its
keyboard has the same size, shape, and a nearly
identical layout. It measures 11.8 x 8.6 x 0.9 inches
and weighs 3.8 pounds. The 12.1-inch screen sports
a 1280 x 800 resolution with a matte surface.
There are no function keys on the isolated key-
board. Instead you’ll find dedicated keys for forward,
back, refresh, full-screen mode, change windows,
brightness up, brightness down, mute, audio up,
audio down, and power on/off. The caps lock key has
been replaced by a search button because Google
says it wants to discourage all-caps typing.
There are numerous keyboard shortcuts, includ-
ing CTRL + H (history), CTRL + W (close a tab), and
CTRL ± (zoom).
The ports available include one USB 2.0, VGA, an
SD card reader, and headphone. Storage devices
and memory cards work for uploading files to the
cloud, but do nothing else.
True to Google’s word, initial setup takes only a minute
or so. First you configure your Internet connection
by selecting a Wi-Fi network and logging in with a
Google account. The system did not recognize any
Google account that did not end in @gmail.com.
Google promised that its operating system would
boot veryquickly,but it wasn’t thefastest we’ve seen.
Hittingthe power button and reaching the login prompt
took about 15 seconds, but that doesn’t include picking
a user account and signing in. The latest MacBook
Airs let you start working in 15 seconds.
There’s no desktop or start menu in Chrome OS. All
you see is the Chrome browser, which opens with a
list of your installed web apps and Chrome extensions.
By default, the pre-loaded apps are Entanglement
and Poppit (games), Get Started (instructions), Gmail,
Google Maps, Google Talk, YouTube, and Web Store,
which allows you to install more apps. None of these
apps lives on the PC; they’re all either bookmarks to
URLs or extensions that live on the web.
To customize the interface, you can download
Chrome themes from Google’s web store, which
will change the tab color and address bar area.
The Cr-48 netbook offers a taste of what it’s like to live in the cloud.
by Avram Piltch
You can’t minimize or resize the browser window,
nor can you view two browser windows next to each
other. However, small mini-windows can appear on
top of the main on. For example, Google Talk can
float around the bottom of the screen. You can’t
drag these mini-windows up, but you can slide them
While the Cr-48 is a fascinating device, it’s clear
that the Chrome OS is not yet ready for primetime.
However, we have no doubt that obvious problems
such as sluggish Flash performance, the inability
to create a Google account from the sign in screen,
and the odd way the OS handles minimized windows
will probably be resolved by launch. Still, after using
Chrome OS for several hours, we were struck by how
many things we simply could not do. We couldn’t do
any thing offline, even edit Google docs. We couldn’t
place two windows next to each other to compare
their contents; we couldn’t copy files to or from
external devices; we couldn’t use Skype.
All of that said, Chrome OS netbooks have the
potential to be good content consumption devices,
provided you’re comfortable with all your content
residing in the cloud. Google’s vision is to replace
all local software with web apps, but has a long way
to go before the world is ready to do anything and
everything in a browser.
The Cr-48 looks
like a MacBook
and features a
web store for
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