Google’s CR-48

I just received Google’s CR-48 Chrome OS notebook, and I’m ecstatic.  I didn’t actually believe I’d get one.  It’s far too soon to give a full review, but here are some of my preliminary impressions. 

It’s a little slower than I was expecting.  It’s not bad, but I was expecting something a little snappier, given all Google’s talk about speed.  This particular notebook runs on an Atom N455, which is a single core 1.66GHz processor.  Honestly, I think a lot of the speed issues would be alleviated by running a muti-core processor, given how modular Chrome is (just open a task manager in Linux while running Chrome/Chromium, and you’ll see what I mean).  From what I’ve heard, the commercial products being made by Acer and Samsung will use multi-core Atom chips, so I’m not worried about speed issues when this product actually comes to market.

Google tried to emulate the modern Macbook trackpad, and it works okay.  It’s a little more persnickety than my Macbook’s trackpad under OS X, but no worse than when I’m in Linux.  That’s not too surprising, given Chrome OS’s Linux core.  Much like modern Macbooks, you can also click simply by pushing in on the trackpad, but it takes a lot of force to do, so I don’t use that feature much.

Everything else about the machine seems fantastic so far.  The keyboard is easy to type on (I’m typing on it now, in fact),  The OS syncs with your desktop Chrome browser, so everything I had on Chrome/Chromium automatically showed up on my laptop when I signed in.  And best of all, there is no branding on this thing at all.  No Intel sticker, no manufacturer logo, no nothing.  It just is.  I love that.

I do have one odd side note, though: There’s no Ethernet port on here.  I don’t see that as a bad thing, as much as it’s a statement by Google about how they think laptops and netbooks should be used.  I get the impression that they see a very sharp contrast between stationary and portable computing, and a massive OS running on a laptop plugged into the Internet via Ethernet just goes against the idea of portability that a laptop is supposed to represent.

I’m going to spend some time trying to live almost exclusively on this laptop, and we’ll see how that idea of portability actually holds up.  Now, if only I could find a way to get Diablo II installed on this thing…

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