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Chromebook (google.com)
446 points by atularora on May 11, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 307 comments

- browses web? check.

- runs the latest fad games, like Angry Birds (and more soon thanks to WebGL)? check.

- can connect digital camera and upload photos? check.

- can browse facebook, twitter, youtube, gmail, hotmail, etc? check

- can play flash games & netflix, hulu, & other crap? check.

This will satisfy the needs of all my immediate non-techy family members. And I won't get the monthly calls about malware anymore.

I personally find the Angry Birds-Facebook-Netflix picture of the future of computing extremely depressing. Where's Google's suite of content creation apps that "non-techy" people can explore to express their creativity?

Most people don't create. You must be depressed by the wasted potential, because we're going from a world where most people don't create to a world where most people don't create.

I don't think you ever saw ordinary people let loose with the power of "Print Shop" in the 1980s or Microsoft Word in the 1990s. People made greeting cards, family newsletters, notices, party decorations....

In the visual arts, a lot of the people who do amusing Photoshop work are not professionals. Also consider MySpace in the 2000s. You might argue that MySpace isn't a good illustration of the value of giving people creative freedom, but you can't deny that a lot of people were eager to take advantage of it.

Then there are the people who get into sound editing or musical arrangement. These days a kid might start with making a ringtone and then escalate. Personally, I'm the least "creative" and least musical person you'll ever meet, but even I spent a whole day trying to arrange a decent-sounding version of "Walk Like an Egyptian" using a digital music program on my Apple IIgs. Why "Walk Like an Egyptian?" I have no idea. When I was thirteen I recorded myself belching, reversed it, dropped the tone an octave or two, added an echo and made it the shutdown sound for Windows 3.1. I told my parents it was the sound of a WWII submarine preparing to submerge. (Eventually, I figured out that code was my preferred way of expressing myself. I had fun writing computer programs that made pretty mathematical patterns on the screen, among other things.)

Putting content creation tools in the hands of everyone is key because you never know who's going to use them. Some kid decides to make something cute or awesome or badass or smartass and the next thing you know s/he's hooked on sound editing or what-not. Unfortunately, the model of commercial software development is to give someone a free taste, then frustrate them with limitations, and then take their credit card and charge them for the pro version. Kids are easily frustrated, may not have access to a credit card, and even if they have a card, may not be able to spend $100 or more for professional-quality software.

However, I think the answer to that concern is that non-professional content creation needs will be served by free web apps.

Non-professional content creation apps are already available in the Chrome web store. Aviary has a suite of audio-visual tools it offers, including vector image editing (I don't work for them or anything).

I do not understand this worry or whatever it is at all. I’m always completely baffled when someone brings it up.

Content creation has never been as cheap as today. To suggest that tablets or netbooks will somehow limit that ability seems crazy to me. Just because the software isn’t yet written? Because that’s what’s happening, the software is written and perfected (Have you seen GarageBand? Google Docs? The list goes on.) and meanwhile we are all in transition anyway. All those PCs won’t disappear overnight.

This is one of those crazy way-too-premature worries.

Would you like to try creating extensive content on a touchscreen?

I love my netbook, it goes almost everywhere with me. I can touch type on it fast enough to take notes in meetings or from church sermons, I can write music on it, I can even run Visual Studio 2010 and SQL Server 2008 well enough to be productive with them.

I can't for one minute imagine how I'd be able to do anything like that without a hardware keyboard and I'm yet to see the add-on keyboard that's as stable for typing on my knees, in the back of a car, held in one hand while standing (or whatever) as any netbook. I've got no problem with tablets as devices but they still seem to be firmly consumption devices to me.

You mistakenly seem to have equated typing with creating.

Typing is a subset of creating. Tablets are not so great for typing, sure, but PCs and tablets are both cheap. There is no reason to believe that they won't co-exist, both making it easier for everyone to create.

No, but a better input device than a touchscreen can certainly make creating easier.

When I'm creating text content, a keyboard is a fast and efficient means of data entry.

When I'm creating images or doing graphic design work, I want precision of control. A touchscreen isn't fine enough.

When I'm creating music, there are a range of input options but I'd still take some persuading that a touchscreen is quite there.

Your opinion. There are quite a few artists who would disagree with you about the images part.

But it still doesn’t matter. Looking at the whole picture, tablets make creating easier. That’s it. To suggest otherwise seems crazy to me.

However, for most kids in that category, piracy is a very viable alternative. And such access to tools which would otherwise cost hundreds of dollars can, and does, foster huge amounts of creativity in kids.

"Most people don't create"

...and ChromeOS would change that? Availability of tools is not something that needs to immediately follow daily use.

Not all my family cooks. We still have a kitchen.

I'm confused by what your point is because I'm not sure if you understand mine. My point was that most people don't use their existing computers for creative purposes, so introducing a computer with limited creative potential won't change much.

It will. Just because most people don't cook, we start selling houses without kitchen, don't you think its a slippery and wrong slope?

Look at ipad running GarageBand, thats the stuff we want. People don't create only when when creating stuff sucks. Just like I only cook when all I have to do is "add hot water".

There is a quote that comes to mind: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein.

Your analogy is a bit off there. You're comparing no kitchen (in a world where most people don't cooking) to limited creative avenues (in a world where most people don't create).

A limitation is not the same thing as a complete absence of potential.

After correcting your analogy, I can think of situations where landlords do not provide full kitchens---for example apartments, or temporary vacation condos or business suites.

You can technically cook, but you can't cook very much.

You're assuming that this new Chrome netbook-laptop-thingy will replace the typical desktop computer. I don't think it will. My parents love their iPads (yes, iPads, plural, they each have one because being retired means you no longer have to share) yet still bought a new desktop when their old one died.

You're right. I was a little presumptuous there. My mind is corrupted by all the post-pc speculation going on. :)

I do think that these devices are more of an internet window. At the same time, they are in standard PC form factor. I feel chromeOS chose a bad form factor. Think about it, you are happy carrying your laptop or having a desktop with your current internet window (iPads), but imagine carrying and having chromebook with a macbook. That doesn't look like a solution, thats an ugly desk. Point being - I won't be the only one who will every now and then, mistakenly or otherwise, compare chrombooks to the PCs. If they look like one, they might as well bang like one.

Browsers are winning as runtime environments, and thry include offline, local apps. The difference between Chromebooks and other devices is that apps written for the former should work on the latter. The issue isn't Chrome OS (or, say, Safari OS or Firefox OS or IEOS); what runs on my Cr-48 runs on every other device too, while apps on the iPhone in my hands and the Ubuntu desktop at my house and Windows desktop at my office all contain apps that can't run on my Cr-48.

HTML, CSS, and JS already won, in the sense that English had "won" a hundred years ago. What I'm waiting for browser performance and developers (myself included) to write apps that "bang", not webbooks that run legacy software.

Basic creation tools will still be there (Google Docs) and more tools are becoming available online to replace traditional desktop tools. I was actually just taking a good look at online IDEs...

Some of us will only move when Chromebooks are being used to develop the software that powers a Chromebook, otherwise we'll disregard them as toys.

People created too much stuff for us to enjoy anyway. All the books in the world on average probably got read several times, but all human beings never hope to read all the books.

I can't imagine the pain you must feel with so many books around, it must be excruciating.

Certainly you haven't lived if you haven't read them all, and even if you manage that, some college punk might release yet another novel just as you find yourself in the final moments of your stressful life; Jeez, the horror.

I sure like the huge variety that blogs offer, don't you ?

Which is why we don't need to keep encouraging people to create content. Rather, we need better way to find great content to enjoy.

That doesn't sound very different.

Is that a cause or an effect?

I think it's probably an independent variable. Most people work, and would have to create in their free time - but that takes sincere effort during a period most people want to unwind.

Here's an awesome music creation app for non-techy people:


Here's a great photo/picture editor:


Those are just off the top of my head.

I can't resist plugging audiotool: http://www.audiotool.com/ It's flash, but it's mind blowingly amazing.

I don't feel like you've done any research on this.

There is also the possibility that you are faulting Google for not making creation applications, because you don't acknowledge other participants in the venue which work very well on Chromebooks.

Just off the top of my head: http://www.aviary.com/

What are you looking for, specifically?

There are a plethora of web apps for content creation available. There are also a variety of image editing & drawing apps in the Chrome Store (and a basic drawing app in GApps).

Edit: If you want iMovie, you want a Mac. My family doesn't use iMovie (though I do personally, but the ChromeBook isnt't for me), they use YouTube video tools & Facebook video crap.

A video editing app, for example.

My family members use the Youtube Video Editor, to be specific. There are many other web-based video editors out there, as well. With the advancements Google is spear-heading (2D & 3D hardware acceleration), I see the prevalence of these web-based apps increasing.

iMovie (which was the example you gave before you edited your comment) is way, way too complex for my family members, from experience (and even me, at times).

It's not like video editing apps are going to go away. If "limited" computers become the norm, they'll start to support video editing because users want that functionality.

It's mostly a matter of not being able to correctly assume in all cases that a person is not going to need video editing, because a Chromebook is the first serious recent computer that won't allow a user to install a video editor.

I'm helping an old lady in my neighborhood edit movies of her kindegarten class in iMovie, and I'd bet that most people would have said "oh, she doesn't need to edit videos", but one of her colleagues starting making montage videos of the class for the end of the year and she wanted to do it too. Since she has a MacBook, this is possible. If she had a Chromebook, she'd have to borrow someone's computer, and I don't know if she would have the courage to ask for that, especially since, like most old ladies, she is scared that she will break computer every time she does anything.

Very true that this first generation (and a few after) may be lacking. I was thinking in terms of the first poster whose lament about "the future of computing" I read to mean the long-term future.

Thanks for making me aware of this! I've been looking for an easy way to design a mockup of a product I've had an idea for and just haven't been able to find a tool I can use that doesn't cost a fortune!

There's a basic paint program https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/pandfibccfbjmcmnjh...

And there's also a photo editor on the apps store - Picnik https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/inmnggcpelemfookhl...

I doubt Google envisions this as the "future of computing", but just the logical step following more and more people using their laptop almost solely for browsing. For those, never having to worry about viruses, boot-up time, losing data or about installing updates is great. And from my own observation, that includes a large part of the population.


There are some and there will be more soon enough

That's what this (http://www.geekosystem.com/raspberry-pi-25-dollar-pc/) is for, remember?

If mom & pop can do their Facebook and email on the Chromebook the kid can hack away on one of these for the price of a movie and a slushy...

Chromebook will sport offline versions of Google Docs, GMail and GCal.

"Where's Google's suite of content creation apps that "non-techy" people can explore to express their creativity?"

On the internet

"Non-techy" people express their creativity outside of a computer, sometimes uploading photos to websites.

Can this put music on an MP3 player? Just how is the real filesystem abstracted away in Chrome OS? If you buy music from Amazon MP3, can you run their downloader? (If you buy music from iTunes, I am pretty sure you are SOL already. ;) )

There's a lot of uses that still require a real, local desktop, and I think once you give this to all of your non-techy family members you'll start to run into them.

I don't understand why those complaining about maintaining Windows don't just put on Ubuntu. LibreOffice is certainly more familiar to Office users and more compatible with existing Office documents than Google Docs.

If you haven't considered Ubuntu yet, why do you consider Chrome OS? It's not very hard to teach even the least technically literate person that they just need to click the big multi-colored circle to get to the internet, so it seems weird that abstracting that one step away makes everyone go wild about giving their mom a Chromebook.

It's all the other nonsense that comes along with managing a typical PC that's the problem. System update every so often, upgrade the system every six months, driver problem with graphics, an endless stream of support requests. On the Windows side, its even worse. I shudder every time I see my Mom's Windows install after a gap of a few months - only half the screen is visible in Firefox because of all the malicious toolbars that got installed in the meantime. An iPad would actually be perfect, but its not as affordable(at least for some models). I'm getting the Acer model for my parents when this comes out.

Set up apt-get update && apt-get upgrade -y && apt-get dist-upgrade -y to run as a cronjob, disable the notifications.

EDIT: Curious as to why this is getting downvoted. If you don't want to "bothered" with update dialogs, you have to run the updates behind the scenes without prior approval. This is what Chrome already does automatically -- Google pushes an update and you get it no questions asked, so what's wrong with setting up Ubuntu to do it automatically if that's how you want your computer to work? I don't get it.

I wasn't suggesting the parents set up the cronjob, just as I didn't suggest that they should install the OS. Competent guy should set that all up, parents can use it without knowing the difference in anything.

If you're going to do that at least use cron-apt which was made for that.

You also need apt-get clean and you are not handling things like conf files changing, and prompts.

And for the record, my 87-year-old grandmother has an iPad and I've had to perform maintenance on it (iOS upgrades that Apple emailed her about, and she was flipping out until she got them, and spent several hours trying to download it herself with her copy of iTunes which is apparently somehow borked because it won't let her update) on multiple occasions, and also show her how to do things on it. Upgrades are not automatic on the iPad.

I'm actually surprised to see anyone even compare Ubuntu to Chrome OS in terms of maintenance. The idea is that you don't want to teach how to maintain anything. You don't want to describe anything. Do you realize how easy it is to break something in Ubuntu? You can't trust user to not do something bad, you assume it to happen. This is what Chrome OS is for. Secondly, ChromeOS isn't meant to be a laptop replacement in the sense that it's a laptop in of itself, it's suppose to change how we use things. In other words, Amazon MP3 downloads will go to the Amazon Cloud Drive and played off the Amazon Cloud player. Everything is on-line. You maybe be seeing things in transition, but the idea is that Google is diving head first into getting there.

So why don't you just install something like deepfreeze(or it's competitors) and be done with the support calls ?

Deepfreeze basically starts before the os and returns the computer to a frozen state you defined. it's used in libraries and internet cafes and schools , and seem to work pretty well.

This way you get: no support calls + better experience to family(apps, better privacy, known interface) + less risk and more control on the solutions you offer.

None of my non-techy family ever complained about their Linux laptops and netbooks. And I never had any call in the past 3 years. The only part which is new here is "backed by a powerful -monopolistic?- company".

Don't worry, they already have iPads.

I remember when I was a student, I got a computer for studies but one of my main goals was to play games (warcraft3, battlefield etc.) and I also wanted to play with photoshop. I don't know if students are willing to give out cash if it's only for viewing facebook, youtube and getting them to write papers.

I think anyone will get a laptop which gives them more freedom, for almost the same price

FWIW: pixlr is pretty fantastic.

I get your point overall, but to nitpick, can it play Netflix? Netflix uses Silverlight, not Flash.

Netflix's player actually runs fine on Linux and is currently touted as a major feature on many Linux-based devices (like Boxee). Netflix's player does not run on desktop Linux because Microsoft refuses to license the DRM component for desktop Linux use, though embedded Linux appliances are allowed to obtain a license.

Netflix & Hulu were specifically mentioned in the keynote. Presumably, they'll use the same backend (MP4?) that iOS uses (as it doesn't have Flash or Silverlight, either).

I have a Cr-48 and Netflix does not currently support streaming: ------------------------ Dear Chrome Pilot user,

Streaming is not currently supported on your device. We're working with Google to ensure that Chrome Notebook users can instantly watch TV shows and movies from Netflix. More details will be announced in the coming months.

Note that your current Internet browser is fully compatible with adding titles to the Instant Queue for later watching on compatible devices.

If your latest fad games include, say, _Order & Chaos_ or even _Tiny Wings_ then you'll be disappointed. Angry Birds is so 2010.

Can connect digital camera and process RAW images? Perform simple adjustments?

Useful on airplane?

Weighs 1.5lbs? Nope. I'll probably get one after I see the first few reviews. However, the tablet (iPad/Android) isn't replaced by one of these. It's a different device.

?? That is nearly the same weight as the iPad.

The lightest one is almost twice as heavy. I think my iPad should lose another 1/2lb. Anyway, the tablet form factor with touch is still very appealing. Google should continue to aggressively pursue tablets with Android.

I think he means these don't weigh 1.5 lbs. The Samsung is 3.26 lbs

If that's all they're doing, how are they getting malware?

Browser/plugin exploits, fake but convincing anti-virus warnings that prompt for user action, bloatware (all the software that wants to add browser toolbars), trojaned add-ons, etc.

Email? Removable drives/CDs? Visiting the wrong websites? File sharing? I'm not sure how it gets there, but sure enough it does. A lot.

If I can run a shell of my choice and feel my privacy is intact (for non google software stuff) it satisfies my needs as well.

Available in Canada , FUUUUUUUUUUUU

- has iPad-like battery life (At least, the CR-48 does)

Much easier sell - call this an iPad with flash and a keyboard.

- Use Skype?

- Use Word/Excel?

Just read that for biz/edu it is a three year contract. So for business at $28/month x 36 months -- this netbook now costs $1008. If I need to deploy 1,000 of these it will cost more than $1M. Whereas a highend netbook will run $400.

So you're paying a 2.5x premium on hardware. Now you say that it lowers maintainance cost, but you can run something like SCCMS and have all machines auto updated with latest virus definitions (as well other things like updated device drivers or even power management) for $70/machine.

The math still just doesn't seem to add up to me.

- can it sync with an iPod or iPhone? Nope.

(The Hacker News-y response is that the i-whatever is terrible and people shouldn't use them, but my point is that a lot of people own them. People who are thinking about recommending Chromebooks to family should keep that in mind.)

Edit: Apparently, the Hacker News-y response is to downvote to oblivion for even mentioning the possibility that people you know might own an extremely popular device. Oh HN, you so silly.

All devices should sync via the net, not with cables. In a year, I've never felt the need to connect my iPad or N900 to a computer

The can't connect to iwhatever problem isn't a cables problem, it's an Apple problem. Apple needs to make a cloud version of iTunes that syncs directly with iOS for that to become viable.

Not so fast on netflix. As far as I know (and I have a vested interest so I try to stay up-to-date), Netflix doesn't work on Linux nor Android because of silverlight's DRM stack not being available on those platforms.

The rest are good but lack of Netflix support has definitely prevented me from purchasing a product in the past. This is not necessarily a problem that Google can fix right now, but hopefully it expedites Netflix' efforts to do so.

There are a number of linux based purpose built solutions that support netflix - boxee box, roku, tivo, etc. The problem isn't whether they can get the tech to work, it's whether netflix will approve the software on a device (is it hardened/locked down enough for their liking and such).

They said in the keynote that they're working with Netflix, Hulu, etc.

Don't tell me "not so fast on Netflix", I actually watched the keynote. ;)

Netflix will be supported via a plugin specifically for it.

I can't imagine anyone buying this and being happy unless they are already intimately familiar with the device ahead of time. Too many limitations, with virtually no big upside functionality or user experience (unlike the iPad that makes up for limitations with some huge upside).

As I'd mentioned before I can buy an ASUS Eee PC with an AMD C30 processor for $289 and be able to use the browser of my choice, sync my iPod/iPad/iPhone, play WoW, use Skype, hook it up to my TV in the dorm, use MS Office, Visual Studio, emacs, vim, etc...

It just feels like a half-baked implementation. The price point on this needs to be a LOT cheaper. Like $100 or free for a netbook, and make the money up with targeted advertising based on them being locked into Chrome. Otherwise this doesn't seem recommendable.

It's quite obviously not targeted at you. There are people who use computers who don't even know what Emacs or Visual Studio are. They're also the ones who have major troubles keeping their computers working. Google's working on abstracting away the IT guy. I hope it works.

And those people don't know what Google Docs are either. And when they get an Excel document where charts don't render correctly, or comments are screwed up, or pivot tables don't work against their datasource, they'll be POed.

Or when all their friends are playing WoW and they realize that this device doesn't play it.

Or when they want to Skype with their grandkids they realize, they can't do that.

Or when they take the photo editing class and realize that the laptop doesn't run the software so they trot halfway across campus to use the lab that has the software installed.

Or when they go to get all their stuff on iTunes and sync their iPhone with it and realize that they still need their old laptop.

Or, or, or...

You can't drop this computer on any average Joe. The subset of people I could recommend this to is crazy small -- maybe zero given the price point.

Make it $0-$100 and I think we have a really interesting device. But at $300 or $20/month, that's a non-starter.

And I should note that I used to be the IT guy for my family and friends. I still am, technically. But it's basically a non-issue nowadays. The only question I've gotten in the past couple of months is someone forgot how to download pictures from her camera. Speaking of which, how well does that work with Chrome (seriously asking)?

I pretty sure Google knows all of this. And are counting on it. They want them in people's hands, and they know once they are, all of those problems play into their vision.

And those people don't know what Google Docs are either. And when they get an Excel document where charts don't render correctly, or comments are screwed up, or pivot tables don't work against their datasource, they'll be POed.

Google likes this. Excel screws up? Perfect, just use Google Docs. Mission accomplished. People are surprisingly flexible if you throw up a barrier. An hour or so of pissing off a customer is a exchange Google is willing to make if it give them a shot at a new Docs user.

Or when all their friends are playing WoW and they realize that this device doesn't play it.

Really? Hardcore gamers are the last people who would use this, and the first people to recognize that.

Or when they want to Skype with their grandkids they realize, they can't do that.

Hmm, Skype doesn't work? I am sure the company with their own browser based video chat system is crying a river.

Or when they take the photo editing class and realize that the laptop doesn't run the software so they trot halfway across campus to use the lab that has the software installed.

As the owners of Picnik, they are again very angry, I am sure.

Or when they go to get all their stuff on iTunes and sync their iPhone with it and realize that they still need their old laptop.

Apple uses their mobile platform to encourage people to use Macs, why can't Google encourage use of their mobile platform with their laptops?

There are always going to be a million reasons why a new device won't fit the current system. But Google is making a big bet on the future, and for my point of view, this seems pretty ingenious. And an utter cash cow if they pull it off.

>Really? Hardcore gamers are the last people who would use this, and the first people to recognize that.

I don't know if you really understand how many people play WoW. Most of the avid WoW players I've known have not been "hardcore gamers" and they've played WoW on really crappy computers, with Intel GMA graphics and everything. There are many normal people that wouldn't drop the cash on a video card that play WoW.

Also, you didn't address things like downloading pictures from a camera, syncing with an MP3 player (not necessarily iTunes/iPod), or any of the other local, non-browser stuff that a normal person does all the time.

> Also, you didn't address things like downloading pictures from a camera, syncing with an MP3 player (not necessarily iTunes/iPod), or any of the other local, non-browser stuff that a normal person does all the time.

Plug in a camera and it offers to upload them to Picasa. With Google Music there is no need to sync anything. Anytime you want to listen to music on your Android phone it just plays from the cloud.

> Plug in a camera and it offers to upload them to Picasa.

I'm on a 3-day trip to Paris, with my wife. At the end of day one we go back to our cheap 3-star hotel room, and we want to upload the day's pictures. All 200 of them (that's about 700MB on my photo camera). What do I do? Do I use my Internet roaming? That would be ~700 euro, so no. Do I rely on my hotel's crappy and expensive Internet connection to upload the photos to Picassa? No, because I don't want to lose half a night and ~100 euros (at ~20 euros per hour).

Why can't I just download all the photos on my laptop, no Internet traffic involved, and upload a select few on Facebook, like everybody does? (because what would be the fun of going to Paris if you can't brag about it on FB? right when it happens, not after 3 days, not after 3 weeks).

I don't mean to defend Google, because I don't know how well this ploy will work out but let me offer a counter analogy.

I would find a Chromebook extremely useful even though I have a laptop, desktop, and Kindle.

A Chromebook would be used for emailing, light reading (aka HN), and web surfing. It'd be an appendage, and not the end-all-be-all of my technology sphere.

I'm also an avid amateur photographer, but like many I never offload my pictures onto a laptop during a vacation or photo-shoot. Years ago, I bought two 16GB flash memory cards for the camera. With that, I can take thousands of pictures and never worry about offloading anything.

If in fact, I absolutely needed to offload data I'd just plug in a handy USB-connected external hard-drive and get instant access to 500GB more space.


As an aside, since you're in Paris you should by an Orange card. Its about 10 euros, and gets you Wifi access at many of their hotspots around town.

Alternatively, you should be able to get Wifi in certain public parks too without paying. I haven't done the later, but I have done the former.

The Chromebooks have 16GB of storage. Last I checked that was more then enough to hold 700MB.

You should be able to download all the photos locally to the Chromebook. Granted I don't have a one but on the Cr-48 it simulates a local filesystem for downloaded files/etc.

Ultimately though it comes down to get the tool that works for you.

What happens when I want to play music on my Sandisk Sansa?

No idea. I've never used a Sansa.

> There are many normal people that wouldn't drop the cash on a video card that play WoW.

Yet they will happily drop $15 a month subscription fee? Who are these people? Are there any stats published by Blizzard?

"Google likes this. Excel screws up? Perfect, just use Google Docs. Mission accomplished. People are surprisingly flexible if you throw up a barrier. An hour or so of pissing off a customer is a exchange Google is willing to make if it give them a shot at a new Docs user."

I'm not sure I understand this, what he was saying is that someone sends you an excel document and all you can open it with is Google Docs then he'll run into issues. Believe me, it is definitely not going to make them want to use Google Docs more. We're not talking about Microsoft Excel screwing up, to the consumer it'll look like Google Docs is crap and not compatible with their friends documents.

Or when they want to Skype

They can buy imo.im which lets you use Skype on a the browser. Problem solved.

it's "solved" in an inferior way to genuine Skype program. they do not want workarounds, they want featured products.

> And those people don't know what Google Docs are either. And when they get an Excel document where charts don't render correctly, or comments are screwed up, or pivot tables don't work against their datasource, they'll be POed.

What's wrong with the Office Web Apps?


> Or when all their friends are playing WoW and they realize that this device doesn't play it.

Nobody expects epic graphics to run on this. Nobody expects that to run on your netbook either (if it does, cool! but that's NOT why you bought a "net"book).

> Or when they want to Skype with their grandkids they realize, they can't do that.

It has a web cam. Do they have gmail accounts? This is likely intended to be purchased by gmail-using people. Just have them sign in to Gmail. It's not like the Chromebooks don't have cameras or anything.

> Or when they take the photo editing class and realize that the laptop doesn't run the software so they trot halfway across campus to use the lab that has the software installed.

Photo editing isn't an expected activity for these devices. And, as time goes by, more and more really awesome photo editing web apps will arrive. You won't need to take a class to learn how to edit photos.

> The subset of people I could recommend this to is crazy small -- maybe zero given the price point.

Please listen to everyone else here; you and your friends are not the target market for this device. We get that you don't like it and your friends won't either. We don't care. I know ~ 20 people who would absolutely love one of these. Our stories are nothing more than useless anecodes. Don't suggest this device is a failure because you alone can't find someone who wants to just use the web.

> Speaking of which, how well does that work with Chrome (seriously asking)?

Very well. Plug it in, dealy pops up.

> What's wrong with the Office Web Apps?

The same thing that is wrong with all web apps, they are way, way less functional than their desktop counterparts. Crippled, you might say.

Web Word is missing things that I learned in Grade 2, like spacing options. Average users do actually care about this stuff.

> Nobody expects epic graphics to run on this.

Don't talk to many WoW players, eh? It runs on anything, and they will run it on anything. Most have a netbook they use to play on the go. WoW runs quite well on them with settings turned down.

> if it does, cool! but that's NOT why you bought a "net"book.

You're going to tell other people why they bought a computer and what they want to use it for? No wonder you have no problem forcing Chrome OS on your friends and family.

> It has a web cam. Do they have gmail accounts?

Installed userbase matters. You might be able to switch your grandma over to a Google video solution, your friends are just going to laugh, and tell you to get Skype like everyone else. They aren't going to sign up for another service, install, learn and troubleshoot another app just to talk to you.

> Photo editing isn't an expected activity for these devices.

Um, yes it is. You seem to have a lot of weird preconceptions about netbooks based off the name. They are PRIMARILY used to browse the web, but that is not their only usage at all. People use them for all light duty tasks, and simple photo editing counts.

> Please listen to everyone else here; you and your friends are not the target market for this device.

That isn't where he was speaking from. I could be wrong but I didn't pick up his intense need for Office & WoW from his comment, he sounded like someone who actually listens to what average users want instead of trying to tell them what they want from the point of view of what is easier for you, which is a trap many techies fall in.

> Don't suggest this device is a failure because you alone can't find someone who wants to just use the web.

Actually, I'm going to do exactly that. I've encountered tons of users through help desk work and independent consulting. I haven't met a single person that JUST uses their browser. This person doesn't exist in decent numbers, it's why MIDs failed as well.

I still have a recurring appointment to clean the crap-ware off my mom's Win7 computer. A system that I don't have to do that on is still a selling point.

Google's working on having me do even less as the IT guy for family and friends, and I fully support that.

Because if there is anything people who constantly install adware on their computer are great at, it's learning new operating systems and giving up old habits.

At least Windows has remote desktop, your recurring appointment is going to turn into weekly "retraining" sessions.

Chrome OS isn't a solution to this, no more than any previous specialized Linux distro. It will work for a small handful of people, but most of your family and friends will reject it instantly, for the reasons Parent listed.

Install Ubuntu and you won't have to clean up crapware. LibreOffice definitely has better MS Office compatibility than Google Docs.

instead I'll have fiddle with video drivers, get calls when the sound stops working after an update, get calls about why the computer stops waking from sleep like it should, etc, etc

All of your points also apply to the iPad.

True. But, iPad has the psychological advantage of an entirely different form factor. That makes it easier for people to understand that it's a different sort of device. Whereas people will be more apt to feel "robbed" if their laptop can't do the things that their friend's laptop can do. Not necessarily saying it's rational.

Actually most of those examples are the niche; browsing Facebook and watching YouTube is what "average Joe" does.

Chrome is clearly meant to be a "do one thing really well" product, not a catch all computing device.

It sounds perfect for businesses. Employees can't screw it up. Sign me (err, my clients) up please.

This is true. Why I recommended my sister get a Macbook. If this were out I'd recommend either. Something simple that just works.

Your correct, but I think a LOT of users would be surprised they can't plug their iPhone/iPod in, or maybe use Spotify

Get an Android based MP3 player. Syncs itself like a big boy.

> can't plug their iPhone/iPod

Citation? The devices have USB ports...

Spotify (0.5) now supports ipods. If the browser is the OS, can't chrome/chromeos do the same trick with a music webapp.


Yes and those people are buying iPads right now. That's even worse for Google.

If I was tasked with selling Chromebooks door-to-door, my primary talking point would be "it just works" and I would point out the high cost of paying someone (GeekSquad, etc.) to perform software services on Windows computers. For people who are stumped by what we on HN consider to be minor annoyances, paying $75+/issue adds up pretty quickly. You are right that, for regular folks, the primary competitor is likely an iPad.

"hook it up to my TV in the dorm"

The Cr-48 has a VGA output, IIRC. Perhaps future Chromebooks will have HDMI output?

"sync my iPod/iPad/iPhone"

This is an interesting problem for Google. Apple clearly has no incentive to support the platform. The value proposition for a home user is not strong unless a Chromebook can replace a Windows laptop. Besides photo uploading, what other device integration issues ruin the game? My wife would react negatively if she could not use a scanner. Google's cloud printing scheme is an obvious end-run around direct support of printers. Perhaps they will roll-out a similar scanning scheme?


I think the Geek Squad charges at least $50 for malware removal. And, your mom would have to take the computer to Best Buy. That her child will do it for free dilutes Google's value proposition :)

In all seriousness, Google's proposition to businesses and schools is probably stronger than the offer to individual users. Corps/Schools feel the real cost associated with Windows desktop administration. Unlike individuals where Windows issues feel random, these organizations know the mean time between interventions and can therefore compute their expected annual service cost per Windows desktop.

You skipped right over the fact that you have an iPad. Your iPad can't run WoW, Skype, Office, Visual Studio, Emacs, Vim, etc. And it's crazy popular.

Because, as he mentioned, it has upside. That whole personal touchy-feely interaction thing that seems to sell people on it in stores, the bulklessness of it that lets you use it as an eReader in bed, it's much lighter than these, the battery life is longer, etc.

These Chromebooks might share the iPad's limitations, but they don't seem to make up for it with any strengths that you couldn't get out of a regular netbook.

I think their strength is "less fiddly."

I kinda thought the same way before I received a pilot CR48. This machine is perfect for couch surfing and emailing. It's super light, doesn't get hot, instant on, and I rarely plug in the charger. It fails miserably when I want to do any development though.

It fails miserably when I want to do any development though.

Can you expand on this? I've read that they're 'great' for portable web development, for some value of 'great'.

Most people don't want a choice of browser or to worry about syncing different accounts or running WoW on every single computer they buy. Most people want to browse the web without virusus or hassles or intrusive software updates.

It's very very clear that this is not meant for full content creation and gaming and a giant desktop experience. This is meant for the web on the go. If you don't want it, that's fine. But are you seriously saying you can't imagine a single living human being wanting this device? Ken, you're being silly here. Clearly, this is something that fits the needs of a huge number of people.

Let me be clear. I'd love this device for free. Or like I said, even $100 I could see it being a fair price. But when you price at the same price of a netbook that performs really well (the new ASUS Eee Pcs are pretty darn impressive beasts for a $289 machine), with all of its limitations, it just doesn't make sense.

This needs to be more like a Kindle. A device you get even if you already have a laptop and an iPad. The price needs to be way lower.


Look, it's not about the hardware. What software is that $289 machine going to run? Windows? Right, so you'll be removing viruses for years after people continue to watch seedy porn sites? Sounds like fun.

This device is intriguing and useful because of the software; it stays out of your way and keeps you safe. That's worth the price to nearly everyone who isn't a nerd.

I guess our experiences are just fundamentally different. With the plethora of free good antivirus programs that you can download, I find viruses are largely a thing of the past.

In the old days you had to pay $50/year for virus protection. And you had to go to a brick and mortar store or order it from Amazon. Cost and effort made it less common for end users to have antivirus.

Now, I install it on every box I maintain. I don't even ask them (as before, I'd have to ask, do you want to pay $50/year and many friends would say "no thanks").

I just don't get malware/virus calls anymore.

For the most part I don't get many calls at all anymore. The ones I do are generally usability questions like how do I get my pictures properly downloaded and tagged. Or what's the password to my password manager again (yes, I keep a collection to other people's password managers in my password manager, because I've gotten this call often enough) :-)

"With the plethora of free good antivirus programs that you can download"

That's the key: most users don't download and install things, don't know where to find what they want/need, and if they do they screw it up. They don't have free IT (i.e.: you) to do it for them. They want it like TV: turn it on, pick from a limited set of options, and just use it.

Still, you're saying that when a user buys a computer, it is their responsibility to go searching on the web for a free, reputable and safe anti-virus company to download software from? Why? Why should they care? Why is it still necessary to do that? Can't someone build a computer where you turn it on and it works safely the first time?

That's what Google just did. Some people want that. Badly.

Edit: Surely you'll see this problem with your scenario. You, Ken Jackson, must use the computer before your friend/family does, in order to make it safe. That's pretty messed up, no? This stuff should just work, no need to go find programs to download before your computer is working properly.

Still, you're saying that when a user buys a computer, it is their responsibility to go searching on the web for a free, reputable and safe anti-virus company to download software from?

Yes it is.


Unfortunately due to antitrust concerns. I'm sure MS would love to bundle MS Security Essentials, but they fear doing so would likely end up in the courts.

Can't someone build a computer where you turn it on and it works safely the first time?

You can, although ironically its not in the best interest of most computer vendors. They get paid by McAfee or Norton to put a trial version on the boxes, which when expires usually results in a vulnerable box. Sure they could put a free version, but then they wouldn't get paid.

MS does directly sell computers, through their retail channel, with free antivirus pre-installed. AFAIK they're the only ones, but I wouldn't surprised if there is a small niche in the world of it.

Why should they care?

The reasons they should care are obvious. But they shouldn't have to care. I completely agree. It sucks. But I do think the visibility and sucktidiness of it is a lot lower than all of the other things that will suck when they unwittingly bring a ChromeBook home from the store.

> when a user buys a computer, it is their responsibility to go searching on the web for a free, reputable and safe anti-virus company

Actually these days they can just opt to install Microsoft Security Essentials and they are done.

The only reason that machine runs Windows is because people think they want Windows, it is rather ingrained at this point in time.

I could see some people using this and being okay but I see tons of others wondering where their microsoft office is, and to be honest a boat load of other problems from the people who malware is already a problem. (I can even see people asking where the internet is or how to get to facebook or google while looking at a chrome browser window).

These chromebooks sadly will only satisfy a niche market and this market probably would be served just as well with a similarly specked netbook running linux

At $20/month it's pretty much disposable. How much more "free" do you want?

Apple has shown the "walled garden" works, despite anguished cries from geeks. People want a machine that just turns on (fast), just works, just does most of the things they want to do without any worries about installation/updates/debugging. Give them enough zero-headache capability and they'll adhere to it despite what lacks.

At $20/month it's pretty much disposable. How much more "free" do you want?

In college I only bought ramen... on sale.

I had a schedule for when all the clubs at the school had free dinners.

I was mad when the taco stand increased their bean burrito price from 89 cents to 94 cents.

In college, I'd consider it a fair deal if you paid me to use the computer, and I'd put a Google sticker on the back of it.

Although it does seem like college kids are a lot richer nowadays.

It's less than a buck a day. Should be able to find 20 empty cans and recycle them daily, if not actually do something profitable with the device at the rate of $1/day.

I can feed a starving child in Africa for that. That's kind of messed up that you'd rather rent the Chromebook than help starving kids in Africa. What happened to "Don't be evil"?

So rather than arguing with me, why don't you sell the computer you're reading this on and send the money to a kid in Africa?

I'm actually already using this computer to free up resources for an African Prince who will send me ten million dollars, upon completion. The proceeds of which I will send to Africa. So as you can see, I need this computer and by keeping it, I will be able to donate many millions.

Some people will believe anything.

You're missing the point. Your dollars aren't going toward performance, they're going toward ease-of-use, stability and reliability.

There are much better devices for consuming content.

" The price point on this needs to be a LOT cheaper. Like $100 or free for a netbook..."

But that's exactly what they've done with the monthly hardware/software subscription for businesses and universities. The hardware is free. You just pay $20-$30 permonth.

I consider myself extremely unlucky with laptops but even mine last 2+ years. The Google notebook for two years would cost $480 - $720! This notebook is heavily reliant on Google Services (unless you hack it) so I was expecting them to go much cheaper and make up the $$ on service usage and ads.

You pay $20 to $30 a month for three years. That's a minimum of $720. Unless I'm missing something, the subscription is nothing but a flavor of a payday loan.

Edit: Looks like I was missing the fact that the subscription includes "service and support", although it's unclear exactly what that entails. Page supposedly isn't a fan of customer support (http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/03/mf_larrypage/all/1), which doesn't bode well.

With comparable battery life, it has a huge upside over the iPad: Adobe Flash.

You are not the target market.

If they have one in the $100-$200 dollar range I'll be seriously considering buying one for my Mother. All she uses is a web browser and google documents.

This would be perfect and would solve my issue of her randomly getting toolbars installed and somehow getting Firefox into a state of uselessness.

sounds pretty similar to the complaints about the ipad.

Big difference with iPad is that it has a great user experience. It's obvious on first use of the iPad. The iPad is this device that you show anyone and drool forms from the lips. It's sexy as hell. Then you list the limitations and lots of people still say, "I don't care" while others will care.

With the ChromeBooks there's no drooling. The limitations hit you like sack of steel. And then you have to explain the upside, which frankly isn't that interesting.

Note the difference. With the iPad you have to convince people its a bad idea to buy one. With the ChromeBook you have to convince people its a good idea to buy one.

That's a lot of words for an argument that assumes what it's trying to prove.

How about this. Read reviews of the cr48 and then read them for the iPad. If you don't sense a difference in how they're perceived at a base level then just consider me a bozo.

The cr48 was a free prototype.

but, i do care, and i don't find them to be sexy. i don't have one, and don't plan on buying one. i'm not particularly more interested in a chromebook, but its in the same ballpark as the ipad for me.

It took me a long time of exploring to realize they were talking about a laptop. I was like "Chromebook?" Is it a kindle? Is it an online scrapbook? Is it online literature?

edit: why am i being downvoted? because i don't read tech blogs 24/7? because nowhere on the website does it actually say what a chromebook is?

I too was confused by the name, I thought it was a tablet until they showed the laptop in the video.

I had actually totally forgotten about ChromeOS until the announcement. That being said, I really like it. For people (and there seems to being a growing number of my friends and acquaintances) who use primarily only web apps this is an awesome idea. I am actually considering buying one for my girlfriend when they come out.

Has any pricing information been released?

Maybe you're being downvoted because of the large photos of laptops when you hit the heading "Chromebooks"?


> Chromebooks are built and optimized for the web, where you already spend most of your computing time. So you get a faster, simpler and more secure experience without all the headaches of ordinary computers.

Their landing text. Assuming we didn't all see the forbes.com piece about this announcement yesterday, that text doesn't tell me a single thing. (Other than Google has a well-paid marketing department.)

I too thought this would be a kindle or ipad-like device that browsed the web for cheap. I was excited. Then I saw it was a crappy netbook and was disappointed. The form-factor makes a big difference for me, since I already need a full-featured laptop for my work.

1280x800 12.1" display. Netbooks are smaller than that. It doesn't need a bigger screen because it doesn't need more horiz pixels. Most web pages fit into 1280 minus the scrollbar.

The biggest issue I find with netbooks is vertical, not horizontal resolution. 800px high is not too shabby.

They certainly didn't help you with a picture of the hardware.

[edit] Being serious. They're selling a computer without showing a picture of it. I was surprised.

... Except for all the photos and videos. Well that and how they aren't selling a computer, they're developing an OS.

Something that's not confidence inspiring from the site: "Get everything you need directly from Google, including support - online, email and phone."

Contrast with the current CEO's views on support http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/03/mf_larrypage/3/

"...Denise Griffin, the person in charge of Google’s small customer-support team, asked Page for a larger staff. Instead, he told her that the whole idea of customer support was ridiculous. ..."

If Google is truly going to support these devices, they're going to need a paradigm shift from Page's pre-existing "support doesn't scale" attitude... and bring their A-game.

I find it interesting that most comments here mirror the classic Slashdot iPod review: No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame.

I think this isn't targeted at the classic computer market, the one that Steve Jobs said is like like trucks. instead, it is an attempt at building a computer market that is closer to general appliances, like TVs or cell phones. Quite similar to iPad's approach, but with more focus on productivity and the web.

Whether it works will depend a lot on marketing, and also on us hackers creating the compelling web ecosystem. I already mostly live just in the browser and many do the same, so maybe the world is ready for this. We'll see

I don't think so. I think people are well aware of what these trade-offs hope to accomplish, but don't feel it'll pan out with the consumer market. Just because someone radically rebalances features in a device doesn't mean it's going to be a winner. We'll see.

Part of the difference is that with ipod, apple had no other incentive for its design than to make consumers happy and thus get money. That isn't even close to the case here. Google has strategic objectives, and it hopes to promote those aims with chromebook. Google has a ton of bias distorting its vision as to what will excite users.

While I think there's a market here, I wonder if the Chromebook will feel enough like a separate appliance to make inroads. The iPad feels like something different - a Chromebook just feels like a laptop. To me the marketing feels too much like a laptop that can only access the web than something completely different that is compelling to the average consumer.

Based on my experiences with the CR-48 (which I used extensively for a few months), I have to suggest that you not get one of these laptops. Basically, ChromeOS is great, but using Atom processors is simply unacceptable for the tasks that they advertise. The only thing the CR-48 can do well is viewing static content -- and I mean truly static! Scrolling around on an otherwise-static web page is far to dynamic for it to handle. Want to play flash? Yeah right.

These new models have dual-core atoms, which will help, but mostly it's just the awful single-core performance that gets you. Even tying emails in gmail was an extremely painful experience; often the characters on the screen would lag significantly behind my tying, and it would take forever to load the different pages.

I don't think anyone is arguing that you can use these things for "real work". I'm going to argue that if you care about your time, you can't even use these things for any of the other stuff they advertise. Unless the new processors are significantly better, I'd say get something else.

That's really strange because I've had the opposite experience. I use ssh for most of my work. I can play hulu videos in 280p, I can view almost all pages and content slowdown free.

The cavet being I cannot run hundreds of tabs, I usually keep it around 5, and when I'm on a flashy website it slows everything down.

Its getting better almost everyday though and now I can almost watch hulu videos in 480p.

Atom processor in my year old netbook handles scrolling and gmail easily, and flash tolerably. Is there not a chance that these things have improved?

Heh, I was amused that on Firefox that Javascript that does that whole stupid "fade in" crap took longer than 8 seconds to load :-). Note to web designers, its not studly its worthless bling, please don't give in to the temptation to do that stuff.

From a product perspective it does have some nice benefits for the non-techies. I'd love to get my parents something that they could carry around to read email and view pictures on which wasn't waiting for them to drive by some hijacked site. The pitch about 'let your friend use it' was also clearly the other 'big complaint' about the iPad they are addressing. I hope that means the iPad will get a 'guest' mode where you can hand it to someone without them getting access to your cookies/email etc.

Much more difficult for that to work on iPad. It takes Chrome seconds to sync everything for a particular user. Since iPad apps aren't served on demand ala web apps, you'd have to download every app belong to the guest. Much wasted hard drive space. The iPad will remain a personal device, like a phone.

I disagree, actually; it would be simple for a half-solution. A "party mode" for tablets is really really important. I love handing my Xoom around a room full of people for photos but hate that they can see my email widget on my home screen.

You don't need to immediately download another users apps. You just need to be able to quickly hide your private info.

It would be a mistake for the iPad (or Android tablets) to never get this feature.

Edit: In case it's not clear, anyone who looks at my Xoom - without even touching it - can immediately read my first three or four emails. Wonderfully convenient for personal use, terrible for privacy worries.

Why would the apps need to be duplicated?

Couldn't they just have their data access mapped toward space under each current_user account?

Sure, you'd have to flush any cached apps, leading to a little more load time here and there, but even then maybe not until/unless the new user tried to switch to a task still-running under another account.

All data access going through the fairly narrow SDKs, and a lack of willy-nilly multi-tasking would seem to make this a fairly straightforward project.

I don't think anyone is (yet) asking Apple to support any Mobile Me user to log into any iPad and see all their stuff. Just a way for multiple people to use one. Or for me to be able and make my iPad available to someone without also giving them access to all my email and Dropbox contents. Sort of like OS X...

At least it is possible to restrict access to some functionality and apps through "Restrictions," i.e. parental controls.

The Chromebook has a lot of parallels with the electric car. For a lot of people it is a real improvement for the normal routine, but there are a few use cases outside that routine for which it just won't work.

ChromeOS has a lot of potential in institutional settings (much like the electric car) where corner cases don't exist or there can be a small handful of special purpose machines for those cases. IT costs for most organizations would plummet and manageability would go up significantly. I can't imagine how much money and software is used to lock down and secure Windows machines and back up data nine different ways. And subsequently how much is spent recovering or mitigating the loss / theft of sensitive data.

"* Obviously, you're going to need a wireless network, be willing to use it subject to the provider's terms and conditions, and be ready to put up with its real life limitations including, for example, its speed and availability. When you do not have network access, functionality that depends on it will not be available."


That's some very important information to put in a footnote at the bottom of the webpage. I'll have to check network availability in my most common locations before deciding whether or not this is useful for me or one of my children.

To me it sounds incredibly petulant and defensive, especially considering that it basically contradicts the "always connected" header which it's footnoting.

~Always connected! ~PS OBVIOUSLY this computer will not ACTUALLY be always connected in the REAL WORLD, what were you expecting

Really weird of them.

It's a little snarky sounding for corporate speak; kinda like someone at Google rolling their eyes at you.

When writing emails at work I often find myself starting sentences with 'Obviously,' and then taking it out later. I find it very rarely necessary.

Well, since the whole point of the Chromebook is having (only) the web, needing internet connection might really have seemed obvious to some Google employee. I don't find it condescending.

It's a web browser - how did you expect to use it?

That was the footnote for the "Always connected" header...

Google is such an interesting company.

Compare this page with an Apple page trying to sell a product: http://www.apple.com/macbookpro/ or http://www.apple.com/ipod

There's absolutely no comparison. My non-technical friends (heck, even me) are just absolutely more receptive towards that second page.

For all of Google's resources as a gargantuan company...can't they just find some small dash of good design somewhere?

(Not bashing Chrome OS. Looks absolutely wonderful. This is just what I thought when I visited the page...and HN sometimes is for nitpicking :)

This is the page you should be comparing to: http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/chromebook

So, you can get a full featured eeepc for the same price as a chromebook, but google expects people to pay just as must because (I guess?) it's so simple to use and doesn't have viruses? I don't think that's how normal people buy things. People don't want simple for simple's sake. They want good design. People do want features. They do want power. They will not choose a less powerful solution because of vague imputed simplicity. As far as I can tell, the only simplicity benefits a chromebook has to offer is by providing strictly less features.

The ipad, although superficially similar to a chromebook in some senses, is a completely different product. Its design, both software and hardware, is utterly and completely unlike chromebook. You won't get far extrapolating ipad's success to chromebook.

Microsoft would not be able to sell a version of Word without print capabilities, even though it would be slightly simpler. No one would buy it obviously. I think a lot of technically oriented people have the wrong idea about what constitutes a valuable trade-off between simplicity and power in a product. Like I mentioned, people want well-designed.

Chromebook is an uncanny valley netbook, and it will be a disappointment. Unless I'm wrong. :)

PS - Another thing technically literate folks overestimate due to tribulations of the past is the extent to which viruses continue to be a nuisance.


    - boots in 8 seconds
    - updates itself without bothering you
    - battery that lasts all day
    - backups taken care of (all data is in the cloud)
    - built-in 3G with 100MB/month included
    - doesn't get viruses

Right, so not very compelling.

    - Boots in 8 seconds: Why power off your laptop? I don't nor anyone I know.
    - Updates itself without bothering you: Low value.
    - Battery lasts all day: This is strong, if verified.
    - Backups taken care of: Implications are mixed at best.
    - Built-in 3G: This is probably stronger than some will give credit.
    - Doesn't get viruses: As I suggested above, low value.
I was aware of these, of course. Still don't think it overcomes massive loss of power and features.

It sounds like you aren't really the target market for this device.

The current price is definitly too high, but I can vouch for all those feattures. It instantly goes int and out odf standby. I don't really like the new hardware I wish they sold more cr-48s this is one nice machine.

How do they pull of the battery thing? Browsers seem to consume the most energy these days, so where is the advantage compared to "normal" PCs?

A little pricy for me to be honest. Is an all day battery and 100MB of 3G data a month worth giving up a whole lot of features over a netbook? For some, maybe. But for me, no.

Those "features" of your netbook aren't actually features (and some are even anti-features, e.g. viruses, not auto-updating) for someone like my parents, or for students at a school or employees at a business. To start, it seems this is aimed squarely in their direction.

This doesn't make sense from a bunch of different perspectives.

Yes, with the Chrome computers, you might not get viruses. But that would be the same as if you got any Linux Netbook that they sell, and would still have many more features than the Chromebook.

You also bring out a lot of anti-features with the Chromebook as well. When you give this to your parents, and they ask where their little blue "E" is, or where their Spider Solitaire is, what will you say? What about those students and businesses that require to have certain software on their system, that the Chromebook doesn't support? Suddenly you exchange technical problems like getting rid of viruses with explaining how to do things in a new environment, with new rules.

And at the end of the day, is it worth it? For me, I'd rather take that $450 dollars (or $350) and buy a fully functional PC that can run all my favorite software and also get me access to the web.

That is not to say, however, that I would not buy one in the future. If they brought the cost down ($150 would be almost an instant buy for me), and/or had a fully matured "app" store if you will, I would probably change my mind. But I look at it, and the only key features I see are the great battery life, and free 100MB 3G access a month, and a whole lot of negatives and unanswered questions (Are they going to have bad customer service like they did with the Nexus? Are they going to give up on this like the Wave, or keep pushing it?)

>100MB of 3G data a month

Thats less than a workday's worth of use at a desktop computer. And you're telling me that's the limit for a device that relies so heavily on the cloud?

You can use WiFi at work or home, and 3G elsewhere. 100MB/month has been plenty for my usage on my CR-48 for the last few months.

The data service (http://www.google.com/chromebook/#features-connectivity) looks nice for people who don't do a ton of streaming. In fact, if chromeos has ssh, it would probably do for my work laptop at something better than a netbook + verizon dongle, and a whole lot cheaper. (well, I think right now it's $60/5gb, and I rarely hit that).

ChromeOS has SSH built in without having to flip the developer switch. (Ctrl-alt-T to get a 'terminal' then 'ssh user@host')

It's not really a qualified SSH client, it is lacking a lot.

I think those rates only apply to the CR-48, not to the new devices announced today, because the new ones are also going to Europe, where CDMA is pretty much non-existent.

That's not what the site seems to say:

  Chromebook that have built-in 3G include up to 100MB per month 
  of Mobile Broadband service for 2 years, provided by Verizon Wireless.

Note that Verizon doesn't operate in Europe, and CDMA is just about unheard of over here.

According to this CNET report ( http://news.cnet.com/8301-30686_3-20061896-266.html ) chromebooks will be sold in several EU countries, so I assume there'll be a UMTS/HSPA model sold with contracts from various carriers.

(It's fairly clear that Google are targeting the same "curated computing" approach as Apple, but via a radically different delivery vehicle -- a netbook-like notebook PC rather than a tablet with a "clean sheet" multitouch user interface. Be interesting to see how the competition shapes up over the next year.)

Well, changing the language to Nederlands got me a different page -- one that I can read but I can make sweedish chef like interpretations of.

Looks like Dutch users can expect wireless from kpn, with a gig of transfer per (garbled) for free, and then it's 20 euros/200MB.

Hell, I should have done the English/uk, They're getting internets from three, and It's 3gig transfer free for the first three months, then pay as you go after.

What the hell, I thought you could get unlimited mobile broadband at least in the Netherlands? This pricing makes no sense.

I mean here in Sweden I can get mobile broadband (i.e. a USB dongle I plug into my laptop) from Three with a speed of (up to) 6mbit/s and no datacap for 9 euro/month. 25 euro/month gives me up to 32mbit/s, and still no caps.

I wouldn't be surprised if they have some sort of operator kickback scheme for the chromebooks, but we'll see if/when they launch them in Scandinavia as well.

The CR48 has the Gobi 2000 which supports GSM and CDMA, so I'm thinking they would use it in the new Chromebooks announced today.

They don't seem to be priced any better than similar Windows machines, although it's hard to find exact comparisons since most things with Atom processors only go up to 10" screens.

Same price as a windows laptop but much cheaper to support.

For anyone who's the the family tech support guy, it's almost worth buying these for your relatives just so you don't have to deal with cleaning up their malware infected, bloated PCs every 6 months.

Amen to that.

I think it will be mainly distributed through the subscription model:

$28/user/month for businesses.

$20/user/month for students.

One big point about this, esp if it takes off. It answers a big question:

How do you get J. Random User to use Linux?

Don't call it Linux. Don't make it look like Linux. And Chrome for Windows synced over to an identical looking ChromeOS means he's escaped Microsoft lockin without even knowing it.

> How do you get J. Random User to use Linux?

Why do you want them to use Linux? Is it about the linux kernel? Is it about the GNU userland tools? Is it about Gnome/KDE, the configurability?

Android is 'Linux', but it's missing most of the Linux bits that I want. (ChromeOS is also missing most of the bits I want too.)

To clarify. I want them to use Linux, because then they aren't using Windows.

Possibly you weren't using computers in the mid-90s when Microsoft was synonymous with evil. Yes, we are merely nursing meaningless old grudges, but victory is sweet.

I'm not going to say Linux is better. It's just spite. How dare you get so rich selling rubbish to idiots? - I'm European and a lot of us really are communists.

Richard Stallman wins again -- the question usually refers to GNU/Linux not Linux. Chrome/Linux and Android/Linux already have hundreds of millions of users. GNU/Linux is still in the millions and it's still an unanswered question of how to increase its growth rate.

Chrome/Linux, as you call it, is Chrome ON GNU/Linux. It's Gentoo with Chrome. It's not Chrome with nothing inbetween the browser and the kernel. People would understand ChromeOS better if wikipedia wasn't currently hosed.

> Don't call it Linux.

That happened a long time ago. Google is already activating 400,000 Linux computers every single day for people all around the world. They call it Android.

Yes. I meant get them to use it on a desktop computer. A computer that goes in your pocket is not, to my generation, "a computer", it's "a mobile device". If it's not a fullsize or laptop x86 machine (or sparc or whatever, not ARM) it's not "a computer".

So my dual core 10" Android tablet isn't a computer? The one with two cameras, one able to film 720p video, incredible 3D graphics abilities, video editing software preinstalled, voice-activated search and email dictation, crazy awesome Google Earth experience? The one that I can use my hands to paint pictures, watch live TV broadcasts (video out to big screens!), point at the sky and see what planets and stars I'm looking at, watch YouTube videos, record barometer data, write code and listen to music?

You, sir, are living in the past. (Sure, the tablets aren't shipping in the hundreds of thousands per day. But they will be soon)

Your tablet is a computer. But it's not what I call "a computer" with quotes. I'm not living in the past. I was just born long ago in it. The commonly accepted meaning of words and phrases will change during your life too.

My mother would probably call your tablet "an ipad" because she understands the equivalence even less and would use a genericized trademark.

Have they published price of these laptops anywhere?

I can't find any info at Amazon/BestBuy or official website http://www.google.com/chromebook/chromebooks.html

CrunchGear lists prices. $350+ for the Acer, $425+ for the Samsung:


$28/month/user with Google Apps & Support for business

$20/month/user for students.

(from the Engadget live feed)

I can't see the laptop itself not costing anything. The per month is on top of the laptop cost I take it?

No, for businesses or schools this is a monthly price that includes software and hardware updates.

"In the near future, you’ll also be able to run traditional software remotely on our Chrome notebook. Companies like Citrix are developing solutions that will be available in the Web Store, and we are developing a free service called Chromoting that will enable Chrome notebook users to remotely access their existing PCs and Macs."

I wonder what the timeline is on this, and if it will be frustratingly slow vs. a netbook.

As an owner as one of the CR-48 test units, let me just tell you that I can get on the internet quicker on my three-year-old MacBook than this thing. The MacBook is connected to WiFi by the time I'm logged in from sleep. Not so with the CR-48. However, the 100 free megabytes of 3G per month is nice. I've used about 400kb total since December.

That samsung version looks very nice and 8.5 hours of continuous usage is killer. However, I won't be trading in my brand new Macbook Air 13" any time soon.

It doesn't mention harddrive specs because this is supposed to be a "cloud computer." However, it definitely has a harddrive and I wonder if it is a SSD or regular spinning disc drive.

The Cr-48 has a 16GB SSD, uses a 5GB partition for the standard OS, and another 5GB partition to restore the first with, plus some free space leftover that's basically unused if you don't tinker with it.

Since ChromeOS is still pretty deficient at file management (even for picture uploading and such), I don't see any reason why they'd provide bigger hard drives unless they were intended to dual boot.

If I were to guess, since Google also just announced programmatic access to 'cloud' storage they are going to create your 'hard disk' in their cloud. Then will be a win for the consumer because if the device is destroyed it won't lose "your" data.

It also allows international travellers to have two of them, one at home and one abroad. They don't have to carry one through customs and subject it to an unreasonable search by border agents. For a small number of people this will be a good value. (I know it assumes you trust the Google cloud more than you trust DHS but that isn't too big of a stretch)

Why does it have to have a harddrive? The thing can run off an SD card, in theory.

I used to sell thin clients that ran off of CompactFlash cards. (they ran a version of XP, too)

Boot time.

Amazon is listing 16GB SSD.


Should be an SSD, as they also tout a startup time of 8 seconds.

It's probably something really small. Official video mentions external storage (USB flash drive) if you "want to work with files".

The Google I/O keynote certainly did not imply you need external storage to work with files. Others are saying it's 16GB.

If it's anything like the CR-48s, it'll have a decent sized SSD. I own a CR-48, and I believe the capacity is something like 80 gb, but I can't confirm right now. It's very fast to boot. Basically instant, I open, it's booted.

Interesting. But with the functionality mentioned above, as a student I would rather buy an iPad with hook-in keyboard. If this device is available in similar form factor, I might consider. Just a thought. I'd still buy one of these.

I think the cost of the device should be low, most people in 2011 will buy these as an add-on gadget rather than one-sto-shop. I don't know of many add-on gadgets being massively popular while costing more than $250.

I don't think this is a PC, this is an internet window. What google probably chose wrong was the netbook form factor. It's an internet window which looks like a PC, specially the one that Steve Jobs trashed at iPad launch.

I was hoping they'd also announce some ARM based notebooks, maybe with the quad core Tegra 3.Performance should at least be similar to the current notebooks, but they would be cheaper and battery would last even more.

Flash on ARM still isn't there yet, unfortunately; by using x86 chips, they can use a much better version of Flash that's available now.

Just what we need: Google involved in more aspects of our lives. No thank you. Nothing against Google per se, but letting any huge corporate conglomerate control the majority of your data seems foolish.

I use OS X as it has the perfect mix of Unixy goodness where superb OSS developer tools run great, graphics tools like Photoshop, and VMWare for Linux. Honestly, it is such a good platform, I cannot for the life of me think of a use-case for Chromebook. I'm actually a bit shocked that many HN users seem to be touting this thing as something revolutionary and/or desirable.

Google is still planning on making Chrome OS installable on other hardware, right?

I already have a thin and light laptop that I'm pretty happy with - hopefully I can install Chrome OS from an image onto it to tinker with.

I am surprised that Google does not publish a version of the OS which runs on VirtualBox/whatever with special hardware (not even sure what it would be) emulated. Imagine how many software folks would show off the OS running a company's internal apps. Making it easy for potential customers to sell something internally is a cheap and effective sales strategy.


you can try it now

you can try the whole thing on a compatible laptop when the chromiumos builds are the same as the chromeos these ship with.

Is there an official build planned though? Or is Google only planning on supporting "official" hardware?

ChromeOS (not "buildable", pre-shipped) I assume, ONLY on Chromebook and official google devices

ChromiumOS, (build or download built) on anything it runs on

You can't build the browser Chrome yourself, because that is Google's trademark. But you can build Chromium.

There is little difference between ChromeOS and ChromiumOS, so it doesn't matter. What's wrong with something built outside google? Chromium will have all the beta features first, so it'll be better.

I'm not making any value judgements here - I am just wondering whether or not there will be any official way to download an ISO (in the manner of Ubuntu, for insance) of Chrome/Chromium OS and run it on arbitrary hardware.

I guess the question really comes down to whether or not Google is planning significant work on the hardware hooks into the OS - will it be possible for manufacturers to write ChromeOS drivers for their devices, or will Google develop that on their own?

I see enormous potential here for SaaS startups dealing with businesses to ease 1) initial hardware costs for a computer with a competent browser, and 2) support issues from hardware / software fragmentation.

You can now give businesses an option that doesn't light the checkbook on fire while supporting all the bleeding edge web technologies we all wish were more widely supported. Sounds pretty awesome to me.

It's a purely personal point of view, but I sincerely think that the CR-48 looked much better than both of those. If Crunchgear is right and those laptops hit the market at 350+ & 425+, I'll regret not having an address in the States back then, when Google was distributing CR-48s ! On a more serious note, I think a worldwide 3G plan would make those laptops very interesting for me.

It was barely mentioned in the keynote, but they discussed changing the trackpad from the CR-48, and to me that was practically the biggest announcement of the speech. The CR-48 trackpad is crap. Other than that I would agree with you, it has a very nice feel to it.

I wonder if an OnLive client is on the way. That would provide a lot of gaming options that will not be available through browsers for years.

It's like the litl plus 3G but minus the clever industrial design (and two years later)


Perhaps someone with a CR-48 can enlighten me... how does one get their photos from their camera to the cloud on one of these?

They went into a bit of detail during the keynote. It's worth checking out a video if you can find one. It's towards the end, in the last 20 minutes.

Anyway, the gist is, a web application (say, Picasa, or Facebook) can register as a file handler for certain kinds of file types (say images) and then handle the upload from the client. A little contextual menu comes up when you plug in a sd card or whatever that asks you which (if any) file handler you'd like to deal with the files.

In the keynote, the demo showed them putting an SD card in the machine and using a file manager to manually select and upload the files to Picasa.

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