Chromebook seems to be having somewhat of a 2nd Renaissance (especially helpful since the 1st was pretty much a dud). I so wanted to like it when it first broke cover a while back, but the 1st gen Chromebooks all had the same shortcomings. My two main gripes were deal breakers for me:
- about as useful as a small dinner tray when no WFfi is available
- too expensive given the host of ‘cheap’ PCs on the market
I also could not make sense of the two, disparate Google OS ecosystems model. With the release of Honeycomb on devices like the ASUS transformer (which my wife and I went for instead last year and liked) it seemed like ChromeOS would soon be the gifted, high potential but swiftly forgotten cousin.
But, the story does not end there evidently. I have been following the new Samsung Chromebook lately, which at a $249 price point makes quite the compelling argument. Half the price of the last Samsung Chromebook combatant, expanded offline Google apps functionality, ARM based processor for no-fan, low/no heat operation, 6 hour plus battery life, and instant on access. It is amazing how tablets have altered our expectations. A couple of years ago a boot up time measured in minutes was the norm, but now any device that does not come up in seconds is deemed unacceptable and 2 hour battery life will not be tolerated. I have included a video from one of my favorite review sites below. (Since recently coming upon this page I find Mobile Tech Reviews to be refreshingly unbiased overall. Typically positives and negatives are listed with little attempt to influence the viewer. I wish the same could be said for any news networks nowadays.) The device tested in the video is the $249 non-3G option, which intrigued me, but Samsung recently released a 3G variant with “Verizon 3G WWAN included with this device for 2 years (up to 100MB per month)” for $329 that eliminates my one concern, those rare wifi gaps where either my home, phone or other WiFi is not available. 100MB sounds low, but a) it is free (well included w/ the card anyway), b) it is plenty considering I will rarely make use of it, and (c) it is a great connectivity blanky that should greatly reduce stranded in WiFi no-man-land anxiety. I could go on, but here is the aforementioned video…
Still there? Want to buy? Here is the odd thing so far, I found no local outlets near me or online options listed when I hit the buy link on the Samsung site, but I figured there would be something in NYC and I was right. B&H Photo Video has it available for pre-order and it looks like you will be able to order it online for delivery as well. (If you are not familiar with B&H Photo Video it is one one the grandest tech toy stores ever. Years ago I worked a few blocks away at 1 Penn Plaza and I would almost have to give a trusted friend my wallet before entering. They have any manner of photo/video/technology geekery you would ever want to buy even if you did not know it existed before you walked in the door. Definitely worth a stop through if you are in the area, or online if not.)
Admittedly not for everyone, but it has been getting some balanced, positive reviews from some interesting places like this one I liked from an Apple-centric website, The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW). A more than reasonable price point will break down some walls if the product is competent. (Similar story for my Logitech Revue which my family and I love [Past Logitech Revue ramblings posted here]. Laughable as a not ready for prime time $300 set top box replacement, but at $99 it was a living room chrome browser/android device/mother of all universal remotes with a $50 keyboard/touch pad for free screaming bargain that I immediately snapped up at the local Best Buy on sight last year.) Change in price, change in perspective. If you mostly surf the web, live in a Google universe and instant on, ultrabook-like lightweight portability for around $249-$329 sounds good to you (or as a spare or stress-free device for the kids) this might be worth a hard look.