The hardware is very impressive for $250. I especially find the keyboard and trackpad very functional, much more so than many PC laptops that cost 4x as much or even more.
The wifi issues are very annoying, and I suspect they are at the hardware level and probably not fixable. I would have gladly paid another $20-50 or whatever it would have taken to get a better wifi chip in the machine.
Another alternative to Crouton is using dev_install, which is how Chrome OS developers get a decent dev environment going on their machines. I've not yet tried this, but plan to.
I truly hope to eventually find myself using ChromeOS as it was intended and still developing with it. This basically means using something like Cloud9.
Oh and another thing I am finding nice about this machine is it's a great test bed for HTML5 games. The current game I am working on crashes on the Chromebook if I enable sound, I suspect I am loading too many sound files and running out of memory. It's good to have a handy "lower end" baseline to test things with.
EDIT: I forgot to mention, I really wish ChromeOS would let me pin bookmarks to the taskbar. You can only pin apps, not websites.
Other than that I'm pretty happy with it. I do spend most of my time in the ssh app..
Is there a decent VNC client?
Also is this a "real" SSH client like I can X-window forward and share ssh keys or just a "sorta SSH" like I'm better off using ajaxterm?
For portable use I've been using a very old netbook with android-x86 installed for some years now, but I'm not too happy with the (pitiful) battery life and I've used the heck out of it so I'm sure the battery is not long for this world. So its either a new chromebook or something like a new android tablet with a bluetooth keyboard is in my near future. Its probably going to be the tablet/keyboard route unless something/someone convinces me a chromebook would be better.
First, I use Google's Secure Shell app . X-fowarding does "work", but (and I'm using the default window manager) the wm doesn't give you access to the window. I just see it briefly. I haven't had problems using ssh keys. Port forwarding options work great.
> Is there a decent VNC client?
If by decent you mean a client not requiring you to hit third party servers, not that I've found.
I'm optimistic about both these problems being fixed, one way or another. If by neither Google nor chrome app, then by installing your own software and switching between x servers.
If I were to build the next Chromebook, I'd put 802.11ac Wi-fi in it, increase battery life to 10h, use a quad core 2 Ghz Cortex A15 chip, and probably leave the resolution the same for this year (so it doesn't nullify the 50% bigger battery I'd use), but use a higher quality IPS panel. And probably try to increase the quality of the build, too, a bit, as long as it costs me as much as they did last year. I think all of those are doable for this year's $250 Chromebook.
If you right click on an app's icon, you can select "Open as window" or "Open maximized", both of which emulate the traditional model. Unfortunately, maximized apps always feature a pair of floating buttons (unmaximize and close) in the top right corner.
I bought my Chromebook in a desperate attempt to satiate my urge to buy a much-more-expensive MacBook Air, and I'd say it's working.
To be honest, I spend most of my time in the SSH app, but web browsing is surprisingly smooth given the machine's price. The extra-wide (and extra tall!) left control and left alt keys are a welcomed touch, and, like Travis noted, battery life has been better than expected.
So this problem that you cannot extend the desktop on the 2nd display looks like a device issue, not an OS one.
I think some of the hardware issues are also device-specific as I have an Acer C7, and I haven't run into any of the issues he's mentioned.
The point of the Chromebook is you're accessing everything from the cloud on a thin client. A lot of the personal gains I've found from using my Chromebook is that I'm not setting everything I use up in such a way that I can access everything I use from any computer connected to the internet.
The fact that it's a super-cheap and super-small laptop that's great to travel with is just a bonus.
I'm thinking of buying some as gifts, but preloaded it with Ubuntu instead. Is that feasible?
Supposedly 13.04 is significantly better, but upgrading is stupidly hard and I've yet to manage to do so (currently trying to figure out how to work around a known bug in Plymouth.) But even then, OpenGL ES may or may not work yet, and unity apparently doesn't work in 13.04.
Also using the Arch files only half fixes the trackpad - using the physical button is still very finicky compared to Chrome OS.
The hang on wake issue I see might be "Auto-suspend/closing lid crashes Ubuntu" in your list, which lists no known fix.
And your workaround  for audio is explicitly dangerous with the stock kernel (I know Marcin Juszkiewicz's kernel for 13.04 has a fix so you won't melt your speakers, but it seems ChrUbuntu hasn't adopted it as of two weeks ago)
Specifically, I'm not having the issues with the trackpad, the sound, and the hanging on wake. What machine are you running on?
Darn. It's fairly cheap and it's stylish. Since some of the people I want to gift to will treat this as a primary computer...
A very minor point to take away from the article; but do people actually use the media player buttons on their keyboard? I use brightness and volume buttons all the time; but I do not ever recall using the media buttons on my laptops/desktops in the same way as I would on other media device (phone, mp3 player, etc).
If I wish to switch song on my laptop, I tend to open my media player and select one which I actually want to listen to, rather than be at the mercy of shuffle.
To make this post more valuable, here's a link to the script I use to make it work with Spotify/Ubuntu: http://code.google.com/p/spotify-notify/
I haven't had the Wi-Fi problems besides not wanting to connect to my cell via Wi-Fi tether. And every monitor I've tried has worked.
I have noticed that the chroot can cause the battery to falsely report. Other than those minor issues, it has become a reliable coffee shop coding machine for me.
Apple offers both matte and glossy finishes on their notebooks