Google Chrome Notebook Review

15 Dec Google Chrome Notebook Review

Overall very happy and wondering why I need the huge desktop computer that is next to my desk making the sounds of a robot with pneumonia.I have been most impressed with the speed and hardware of this machine.  It is very fast in booting up and returning from sleep.  Connecting to a network is remarkably faster than other computers.  The display and streaming of high-definition in different formats is impressive for a notebook of it’s size.  It does these things so well I’ve considered returning my GoogleTV (which I would totally do if they had a Fling extension…guys…guys?)The design of the laptop itself is very nice.  I am not sure if this is close to the final design but I love the fact that there is no labeling on it, no stickers that leave goo that tell you who made the processor or what the OS is.  It is a black rubber-like finish that is very nice to feel.  Most edges are rounded particularly where your wrists rest which is an improvement over the relatively sharp edges of MacBooks.The keyboad is a dream!  The typing action is splendid and I am crazy about a few key changes.  First (which you’ve all heard about) they removed Caps Lock which I’m not sure I had ever used anyway.  It is replaced with a Search button that opens a new tab and puts your cursor in the search field.  Hitting Ctrl-T is no longer my most used hotkey.

Additionally, there is a top row of buttons that is usually where the F1-F10 keys are or in some laptop cases they have some quasi-buttons that are oddly ordered and control different things like music or video players.  Google has taken the best aspects of both of those and made real nice to press buttons that aren’t mysterious Function keys but have very relevant purpose.  For example, they have Back and Forward buttons which totally makes sense when you’re OS is a browser…or whenever really.  They have a refresh button (Ok I miss F5 a little).  They have a fullscreen mode button, and a next window button.  All of these have been super helpful and noticebly save me from hitting Ctrl-Something on a regular basis.

The keyboard is missing one thing for me though.  It lacks lit keys or a lit keyboard which make it nearly impossible to see the keys in the dark.  This will matter less when my motor memory locks in this new keyboard but still it has been one of the most prominent pain points for me since I’ve been watching a lot of Naruto on this bad boy.  (Maybe the only other thing missing is a Delete key.  For some reason I’ve always used that more than backspace.  Perhaps I’m weird.)

So what about the software.  At the end of the day it is just their Chrome browser.  Which is a fantastic browser and the only one I use so I am pretty content.  I am the type of person who always looks for a webapp version before downloading anything so I’ve been pretty well-suited with this.  When you can do some sweet RPG gaming and web-based IDEs have figured out what they’re supposed to do this notebook will pretty much have everything I need…

…except maybe local storage.  One shortcoming to date has been their file storage system.  It is hard to navigate – once you open a folder I haven’t figured out how to get back to a parent folder – and the graphical design of it is lacking.  I figure this is one of those areas that they are continuing to work on and we’ll see updates later in the year.  I actually expected (and still anticipate) that there will be integrations for storage into some online storage apps like google docs storage or drop-box.

Another area where I feel a little empty inside is Notifications.  In product videos online I’ve seen these very active notification windows, showing emails arriving, tweets coming in, friends coming online.  I’ve been unable to get that to happen.  Perhaps it requires downloading the extensions but my expectation was that at minimum there would be the option for notifications from Google products like reader, buzz, voice, and gmail.

Overall, though it has been great and for the most part it has been the only computer I use around the house.  Also, it’s light enough for me to carry it pretty much anywhere without thinking twice.  I’ll get Grooveshark going and carry it around like a boom box in the Bronx.  I expect that over the year of this pilot program, Google will release updated versions of the OS which is when things will get really interesting.

Feel free to ask me questions in the comments to learn more.

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