Earlier today we received a tip to check out the blog Chrome OS Site for the details on the first official Chrome OS device. Obviously intrigued, I clicked through. There, I read about not a notebook or netbook running the OS, but rather a monitor! Specifically, the report has Acer supposedly unveiling this “monitor”, or perhaps all-in-one PC, called the DX241H, as the first actual Chrome OS device. Several other reports along these lines followed.
Weird, right? Well yes. Because from what we’re hearing, that’s just not true at all.
Here’s the thing, Chrome OS Site’s report points to a German site, heise online, which claims that Acer announced this device with Chrome OS support. But the odd thing is that Acer is an official Google partner on Chrome OS devices. And from what we’re hearing, the search giant doesn’t know a thing about such a device.
While initially viewed as a potential “netbook” OS, Google quickly altered the wording around Chrome OS to make it clear that it was intended for notebooks. (At least at first.) The fact that Cr-48, the test device Google launched late last year, is a notebook speaks to this. From what we’re hearing, Google is still very much committed to getting Chrome OS out there as a notebook OS at some point in the middle of this year. And yes, that will be with partners like Acer.
Having said that, the code behind Chrome OS, Chromium OS, is open source. And developers are free to do with it what they wish. But again, Acer is a Google partner on Chrome OS, so it’s very unlikely that they’d think about going around the company to make some sort of all-in-one iMac-like PC on their own.
Google has been thinking about how they can expand Chrome OS beyond notebooks, to devices like tablets, and potentially even PCs eventually. But the first crucial step is to take on the notebook market. And they can’t do that if partners are off making odd monitors/all-in-one devices aimed at a completely different market.
Long story short: the first official Chrome OS device will not be a monitor or an all-in-one PC. It will be a notebook. And it will launch in the middle of 2011.
Well, except when they have something to talk about. Which is actually quite often.
Today brings another post highlighting some new features in Chrome 10, which has just hit the beta channel of the browser.
“In the spirit of the lunar new year, we’re excited to kick off the Year of the Rabbit with a slew of enhancements in the Chrome beta channel,” Google writes. You can find a whole list of new features and improvements for Chrome 10 beta here, including password sync, GPU-accelerated video, and the new settings tab. But the key to Chrome 10, once again, is speed.
You can find the beta version of Chrome here. Obviously, Google doesn’t consider it tested enough to be fully stable yet. But I’m typing this post on it. It seems pretty solid — and yes, fast.
After months of anticipation, Google finally unveiled the Chrome Web Store this past December. But a lot of users were disappointed with the launch for one very big reason: it was U.S.-only. Starting today, Google is finally taking the initial steps to change that, as they’ve opened a developer preview of the Web Store for 15 more countries.
Note that this doesn’t mean the store is ready quite yet for international users. Google says that a full launch will happen “later this year”. “We are releasing this developer preview ahead of the consumer release so you have enough time to prepare your apps for international users,” Google notes. This is the same thing Google did for U.S. developers back in August of last year. If that timetable holds, international users should get access in about four months.
So which countries are getting access to this developer preview? Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
And, significantly, there will be localized payment options in place for each of those countries. Notes Google:
If you are using Chrome Web Store Payments to charge for your app, you will also be able to set the app price for each country although if you’re not based in the United States you will not be able to complete your merchant account sign up just yet (this will be enabled soon).
The early talk about the store has been that web apps weren’t selling too well. But others have said their apps are doing fine. Regardless, opening up beyond the U.S. can only help.
Normally we would write a little bit about what we are giving away, but this shouldn’t need any introduction. So, we are going to keep this pretty simple.
We have 1 Google Chrome Cr-48 Notebook to give away!
You can read our extensive review on it here.
If you would like to win a Cr-48 Notebook, just follow these steps to enter.
1) Become a fan of our TechCrunch Facebook Page:
2) Then do one of the following:
- Retweet this post (making sure to include the #TechCrunch hashtag)
- Or leave us a comment below explaining why you want one
The contest starts now and ends tomorrow, February 12th at 7:30pm PST.
Please only tweet the message once or you will be disqualified. We will choose at random and contact the winner this weekend with more details. Anyone in the world is eligible, as long as you can receive delivered packages. Good luck everyone.
Google has made a big deal recently about not making a big deal about the version numbers of Chrome. “It’s just a number” is the basic take these days. In fact, they can barely be even bothered to announce them at all sometimes. But today, they did actually take some time to acknowledge the latest version — and a funny partner who made it all possible.
Google has officially rolled out Chrome 9, meaning the stable version of the browser has been updated to that iteration. They don’t make any mention of the number in the blog post about the update, but trust me, it’s version 9. Instead, Google focuses on the three new major features available to all in this build: WebGL, Chrome Instant, and the Chrome Web Store.
Many users will already be familiar with all of those as they’ve been on the beta builds of Chrome for a while, and the dev builds longer before that. But still, each is worth noting as all three are now a pretty integral part of the Chrome experience. WebGL brings hardware-accelerated 3D graphics support. Chrome Instant brings Google Instant support to the Omnibox. And the Chrome Web Store is part of Google plans to push web apps farther.
But the more humorous part of the release comes from the Google Chrome Releases blog post. This post details the bug fixes that have come in Chrome 9. And in it, Google gives a special shout-out to the Reddit community for pointing out one critical bug. As Google notes:
Special thanks to the Reddit community, for playing so much of the game “Z-Type” that they uncovered a Chromium audio bug — see below!
Below, they detail the bug:
 Critical Race condition in audio handling. Credit to the gamers of Reddit!
As part of their effort to speed up release cycles, Google no longer likes to acknowledge in a big way when they update Chrome. They’re simply doing it too often for it to mean much. But today they’ve taken a bit of time to acknowledge an update to both Chrome and Chrome OS, in part because they were able to quash a big bug.
Specifically, Chrome and Chrome OS were updated to versions 8.0.552.237 and 8.0.552.334, respectively. That itself isn’t huge news as both were already on version 8 — but again, the versions simply don’t mean much anymore. Instead, the bigger news is that Google gave out the first “Elite” Chromium security reward.
In December, after months of anticipation and discussions with third-party developers, Google finally unveiled the Chrome Web Store — an online portal that lets users purchase and ‘install’ web applications like TweetDeck, MOG, and hundreds of others. It’s one of the first platforms that helps developers monetize web applications using a unified payment system (in this case, Google Checkout), and it’s going to be deeply integrated into Google’s Chrome browser. Unfortunately, as far as we can tell, nobody is really buying anything on it.
The UI for the Chrome Web Store looks very similar to iTunes, and, just like iTunes, one of the most prominent sections is a list of ‘Top Paid’ applications. Sitting at the top of the list is Toddler Jukebox, a colorful little app selling for $1.99 that lets you play twelve children’s songs, like ‘Wheels on the Bus’. And, according to the Web Store stats, it’s been installed six times this week. Ouch.
To be fair, Google isn’t sorting its ‘Top Paid’ list in order of purchases (though I’m not sure why) — a few of the other applications in the list are doing better, but even those are still showing lackluster sales. The paid application with the most recent activity is MathBoard, which has 65 weekly installs and sells for $2.99 (less Google’s fees, so it gets around $2.56 a pop). In other words, it’s earning around $165 a week. That’s not nothing, but given that every other app on the store is probably making less than that, it’s not good.
Now, it’s possible that sales slowed a bit over the holidays, but the impact couldn’t have been that huge. There is, however, one more significant explanation for this: Google hasn’t done much to expose the Web Store to users. In fact, the current stable release of Chrome still doesn’t actually feature the Chrome Web Store anywhere — it only shows up if you go to the Web Store directly and install an application. That said, Google has placed banner ads for the Store on some sites (including TechCrunch), and the store got loads of publicity at launch, so it’s not like it’s a secret.
There are some free applications that are getting far more attention, like Quick Note, which has 8,000 installs this week. Obviously it’s common for free applications to get more installations than premium apps, but the discrepancy — 65 paid installs versus 8,000 free — seems pretty steep.
One thing is clear: Google has a long way to go with the Web Store. It’s still impossible to distinguish applications that are basically just bookmarks from those that are full-fledged web apps. And while the purchase flow itself is pretty simple (you can buy something in a couple clicks, assuming you already have a Google Checkout account), I think Google will have to put some work into educating people on what exactly they’re paying for.
Thanks to Brian Kennish for the heads up. Kennish is the man behind Disconnect, a browser extension that lets you block services like Facebook Connect
Addicted to Quora? Wish there were a way to search the Q&A site directly from your browser as well as receive notifications about your notifications while surfing the web? Well, this awesome Google Chrome extension created by Andrew Brown is just what your browser ordered.
Now you can be one click away from a Quora fix everywhere you go online (Brown plans on eventually showing you full notifications while you browse). Die hard fans can grab the repo now from Github or download the extension here if you’re already in Chrome.
I’m addicted to browser tabs. I probably open several hundred of them each day during my regular web browsing. And today brings good news: Google wants to reward me for that.
Well technically, Google wants to reward charities on my behalf for my obsessive web browsing. A new initiative today called “Chrome for a Cause” asks you to download a Google-made Chrome extension that will note your tab opening activity and allow you to donate to one of five charities at the end of each day based on your usage. Yep, just browse the web, and donate to charity.
The charities involved in this are: The Nature Conservancy, charity: water, Doctors Without Borders, Un Techo para mi Pais, and Room to Read. Here’s Google’s breakdown of how much you have to browse to donate to the various charities:
In September 2009, we wrote about something very interesting that Google was doing in order to penetrate the business market: they were essentially turning IE into Chrome. Chrome Frame was a plugin for Microsoft’s browser that would recreate the Chrome browsing experience inside of IE. The reason Google did this is that they realized that many users at work were not able to install Chrome because their computers were on lockdown by their IT department. Well today, Google has announced a more straightforward way to get Chrome at work: an MSI installer — aka, a standard Windows installer for businesses.
“Today, we’re announcing that Chrome offers controls that enable IT administrators to easily configure and deploy the browser on Windows, Mac, and Linux according to their business requirements,” Google writes on the Chrome blog. This new installer allows businesses that use standard deployment tools to install Chrome for all their managed users, the company says. Google has also outlined some policies to show what Chrome will respect with regard to security and settings that can be set by admins.
Google also notes that these policies will work for Chrome OS as well (though obviously not the MSI installer). Yes, Google is really going after Microsoft here. They not only want sys admins to replace IE, they want them to replace Windows as well. They also apparently want them to replace themselves.
Google says that they’ve been working with several large companies for months on this new type of installation of Chrome. Those currently using it include Vanguard, Boise State University, Proctor & Gamble, and, of course, Google.
But Google seems to realize that even this tool won’t be enough to get most businesses to switch to Chrome. They note that this is “just the start” of what they plan to offer businesses with Chrome. “We’re working hard on polishing the next set of policies that will make Google Chrome even more customizable and useful to users in the future,” they note.
Adblock Plus, easily the most popular Firefox browser extension, recently hit the 100 million downloads milestone. Soon, the developer(s) behind the add-on will be releasing a beta extension for Google Chrome.
Over the years, many have asked ABP developer Wladimir Palant if there’d be a Google Chrome extension at some point. His usual reply went something like this:
No, Adblock Plus will not be “ported” to Chrome. I have better ideas for wasting tons of time. Anyway, why do you think that I could do better than the authors of existing ad blockers for Chrome?
Or in other words, about non-Gecko browsers in general:
Forget it, I am not writing Adblock Plus from scratch just to support your favorite browser (be it Chrome or Safari or Opera or Internet Explorer). And even if somebody gives me the code — I am not going to maintain two unrelated projects.
This asks for an independent project and in fact, there are already independent projects to implement ad blocking for all of these browsers.
So what changed the man’s mind?
Palant says he wants to change the Internet as a whole, by putting users back in control.
To that end, supporting only one browser limits ABP’s options too much. While he has considered partnering with other ad blocking projects, he says they tend to have goals that could not be aligned with his mission.
More importantly, recent Chrome versions allow extensions to block downloads, and porting a Chrome extension to Safari “seems relatively simple”.
Note that due to the way Chrome works today, the extension won’t function in the exact same way the Firefox add-on does, at least not in its early stages, but Palant hopes that there will soon be changes that will allow the team to make the extension more robust.
The ABP team will not be writing a Chrome extension from scratch. They’ve engaged in conversations with AdThwart developer Tom Joseph, who has agreed to hand over the project to ABP. That means they can go to work using an existing and relatively small codebase that already reuses several chunks of the Adblock Plus source code. Furthermore, Joseph has joined the team as a contributor.
Expect some development builds of the Chrome extension to hit the Web soon.
Looking over the tech news today, you’d think Chrome OS is dead. Nevermind that it hasn’t even officially launched yet. Dead.
Early reviews for the Cr-48, the prototype device (which Google has no plans to officially release) running Chrome OS, have ranged from mediocre to poor. And Paul Buchheit, the man often credited with creating Gmail for Google back in the day, kicked up the firestorm this morning when he predicted that Chrome OS would be “killed” next year in favor of Android.
So that’s it, right? Not so fast.
Before I begin, remember that I’m the person who wrote perhaps one of the most scathing long reviews of the Cr-48 and the initial build of Chrome OS. Simply put: neither that device nor the OS are anywhere near where they need to be if Google wants to release these devices to the public. But we knew that would be the case. And Google had to as well. It’s a little bit odd just how many Cr-48s they’re sending out, but they really seem to believe that third-party developers will help solve some of their woes.
I don’t know about that. But I do know that at it’s core, Chrome OS remains a good idea. And it seems like one that ties directly to Google’s entire essence. If they put the resources necessary into it, and give it time, I do think it has a good chance to succeed.
Of course, both of those are pretty big “ifs”. One issue is that Google, like every other large tech company before it, seems to be spreading itself too thin. Despite some spin to the contrary, the company still essentially makes all of its money from one thing: search advertising. Other revenue sources are starting to emerge, but the actual potential of those businesses is still a bit cloudy — namely because there is a lot of competition in places like display advertising, local, and mobile.
Google may not win all of those spaces. Hell, they may not win any of them. That doesn’t mean they won’t be money-makers, but if they don’t win in the same way they’ve won search and search advertising, none of those businesses will be anywhere near the size of the core business. And that makes Google vulnerable.
But this concern isn’t stopping Google from pushing full stream ahead on dozens of projects ranging from books to self-driving cars. You could argue that all of that stuff is eventually in Google’s interest both from a product and business perspective, but no one, including Google, knows for sure. And because they’re dividing their awesome engineering talent between all of these various projects, they’re making it hard to nail any single project — such as Chrome OS.
My sense is that it’s becoming an empire divided. Sort of like Microsoft. There’s just too much going on, and too many people who aren’t on the same page — or even know what’s going on in other areas of the company. That doesn’t seem to be the case right now at the smaller tech companies like Facebook and Twitter. And perhaps that’s part of the reason why Google is losing talent to those places. Talent like Chrome OS’s chief architect.
But back to Chrome OS. While there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical, there’s also plenty of reason to believe in it. Again, fundamentally, it seems to be the closest product to what Google is at its core. That is, the web.
Android is not that. Android is a company Google smartly acquired when they realized that the mobile web was not going to be good enough, fast enough for the smartphone revolution. There needed to be native applications. It will probably go down as the smartest acquisition Google ever made.
But saying that Android will kill Chrome OS is myopic. Right now, apps are all the rage. But again, that’s because web technologies are not yet where they need to be. Apple found this out at first when they asked developers to create web apps and not native applications for the original iPhone. A year later, they had to open up native development. But the original idea was web apps.
And there’s a pretty solid chance that this will still be the future. The web governing bodies move too slowly, but they do move. And eventually mobile web apps should be on par with their native counterparts. And if that’s the case, developers will have a huge incentive to develop once for one unified platform, rather than three or four different ones.
We’ve already seen this happening on the web at large. Web apps are eating into traditional desktop apps for this very reason (along with others like ease of distribution, etc). Mobile is just a newer and different beast. One that has to be tamed natively first.
It seems as if all of this is cyclical. Native apps are the rage on mobile now. Walled gardens are hot because they make it easier to nail user experience — especially on the limited dimensions that mobile devices offer. But open will come charging back. I don’t know when. But I know it will.
And that’s likely to be the web. Again.
And the web is Chrome OS. In following up on his earlier post, Buchheit noted his surprise that an OS with roughly “zero users” had so many fans. But that’s not really the case. Chrome OS already has millions of users — because Chrome OS is just Chrome. Say what you will about the OS, but that’s what it is. It’s Chrome with a few little bells and whistles to make it so that you don’t need all the bloat that Windows has forced down our throats over the years.
In many ways, Chrome OS is the anti-OS. And that’s refreshing. It’s not where it needs to be yet, but when and if it gets there, it could be really, really great. Imagine a computer that boots in two seconds. Imagine one that lasts for an entire day on a single charge. Imagine one that costs less than $100. It could change the world.
Just think about what you use your computer for these days. There’s a very good chance that it’s mainly to use the web. I’m at a cafe right now. Looking around, every single screen has a web browser open. That’s important. That’s why Chrome OS was created.
Again, as I said in my Cr-48 review, unlike Google CEO Eric Schmidt, I don’t believe we yet live in a world fully ready for Chrome OS. So the key is for Google to keep the dream alive long enough for us to get there. That could mean several years of backlash and questions as to why they continue to work on it when Android is exploding. But the answer is because Chrome OS — at least the concept behind it — will eventually win. And when the time is right for that to occur, Google will be in prime position to really hit Microsoft where it hurts — in the wallet.
It’s a nuclear bomb that has been dropped, but could take years to explode.
That’s not a popular concept in today’s instant gratification world. Especially for a publicly traded company that has to answer to shareholders. But if Google does kill Chrome OS next year, mark my words, someone else will create it down the road. And Google, in full Microsoft-mode by that point with Android, will scramble to copy it. And they will lose.
When ‘New Twitter‘ launched earlier this year, it brought a slew of new features alongside its UI overhaul. One of the coolest additions was a new Preview mode — click on a tweet, and in some cases you can see the linked photo, YouTube video, or other piece of content in the right sidebar without having to leave your Twitter stream. There’s just one little problem: Twitter only shows embeds for a limited number of services. And today, Embedly has released a new plugin for Chrome called Parrotfish that goes a long way toward fixing it.
According to the Embedly blog, at launch, Twitter was showing previews from 16 services like YouTube and iTunes— they’ve since upped that number to 31, including favorites like Instagram. But there are still a lot of services that Twitter doesn’t support, like The Onion and or ESPN. With Parrotfish installed, the number of supported services jumps up to a whopping 165 providers (you can see a partial list of them below).
It’s a free extension for Chrome, and it includes a handful of other features as well, like additional phishing detection for links shared on Twitter. And there’s another really cool feature: for sites that don’t have supported embeds, Embedly will still generate a preview of the site that displays an image, headline, and brief excerpt (think the previews you see when you share a link on Facebook and you’ll get the idea).
The extension was built by Embedly, a startup that makes it easy for developers to convert a basic link into a rich embed (a link to Amazon can be converted to a visual product overview, for example). The startup recently raised funding from Y Combinator, Lowercase Capital, and SV Angel.
GNU creator Richard Stallman is back on the old “cloud computing is evil” kick again, and this time he’s speaking out against ChromeOS. His basic premise, that cloud computing is dangerous because it places your data in the hands of companies that neither care about you or your data, is sound. As is his threat that when the police come knocking on your cloud provider’s door asking for your data, Google is far more likely to give it up than you are. These are fine and good reactions to the slow erosion of privacy that comes from the rise of cloud computing.
“I think that marketers like cloud computing because it is devoid of substantive meaning. The term’s meaning is not substance, it’s an attitude: ‘Let any Tom, Dick and Harry hold your data, let any Tom, Dick and Harry do your computing for you (and control it).’ Perhaps the term ‘careless computing’ would suit it better.
To paraphrase Raymond Carver, Stallman is talking and Stallman invented GNU so sometimes that gives him the right. But I worry his FUD in regards to the cloud is misplaced. The obvious issues aside, given the current state of most people’s computer security and back-up practices, I’m will not disregard the cloud as a good alternative to those who can’t maintain their own PCs. Stallman comes from a culture where everything is in one place. The Linux architecture itself is, to an extent, monolithic (not in the computing sense but in the metaphorical sense), and every action you perform on data within it is self-contained on the disk. Copies of copies are propagated through the network, ensuring that important data is replicated and not linked.
You would be a fool to trust your entire video or photo collection to Google or Yahoo or Microsoft, yet millions do. You would be a fool to trust your email records to a bunch of privileged uber-nerds in Palo Alto, but I, myself, do just that. These are compromises we take to create a centralized information jukebox and I, as a responsible computing citizen, keep copies of my important stuff locally.
However, ChromeOS, like many mobile phone OSes, isn’t about being a responsible computing citizen. It’s about getting things done. You put music on your phone or start up Pandora – it’s essentially the same thing. You edit a document in Pages or in Google Docs on the iPad – it’s essentially the same thing. You drag a photo off of your Droid or upload it onto Flickr – it’s essentially the same thing. The primary examples are the movement of bits from and to your own realm while the secondary examples are the movement of bits from and to a password protected “alien” realm. Either way you’re doing the same thing with the same bits.
When it comes time for me to perform some sort of civil disobedience or when I get it into my head to do something illegal, I will keep that data off the cloud. But I do not consider sharing a photo on Posterous “careless computing.”
ChromeOS is Google’s way of showing us the desktop is dead. It’s also Google’s way of grabbing more eyeballs and insinuating itself into the fabric of our information age lives. None of this is done with any particular malice but it is definitely not done with our best interests at heart. However, for the vast majority of us, letting Google do the heavy lifting when it comes to data storage and maintenance is probably the best way to go.
The question is not whether I should trust Google or Microsoft or Apple with my data in the cloud. The question is, rather, whether it is worth my time, attention, and resources not to.
Google publicly unveiled the Chrome Web Store a week ago. Looking at the most popular apps in the U.S. by weekly install numbers, it looks like TweetDeck has fast risen to the most prominent spot on the list, as relayed by the startup’s founder Iain Dodsworth earlier today.
So where are the Google services? Right behind the TweetDeck and the NY Times, it appears.
The list of top 10 most popular apps on the Chrome Web Store includes Google Calendar, Google Books, Google Docs, Google Reader, Gmail, Google Maps and YouTube.
Granted, most of Google’s ‘apps’ are mere links to the respective Web-based services, whereas ‘ChromeDeck’ is an actual app, but still.
Springpad rounds out the list of the ten most popular apps on the store as the third non-Google service to make the list after TweetDeck and NY Times, with about 35,000 weekly installs (almost a third of TweetDeck’s install numbers).
Obviously, it’s far too soon to draw any conclusions, but it’s certainly a testament to TweetDeck’s huge popularity to see it leading the most popular Chrome apps list, considering the company is primarily regarded as a desktop and mobile client software developer.
For your information, rivals HootSuite (16,000 weekly installs), eBuddy Web Messenger (13,9200 weekly installs) and Seesmic (5,442 weekly installs) are trailing far behind.
Prediction: ChromeOS will be killed next year (or “merged” with Android)
Considering his former employer just launched the Chrome OS pilot program last week, the comment may sting a little over at Mountain View, although it should be noted Buchheit is hardly the only one predicting that Google’s Linux-based operating system will go the way of the Wave soon enough.
Google to date has posited that Android and Chrome OS, its two operating systems, address different markets that will remain distinct despite the growing convergence of the devices they run on (netbooks, tablets, smartphones). Google co-founder Sergey Brin, however, has very recently stated that Google will likely “produce a single OS down the road”.
If the man’s less-than-140-characters prediction is right on the money, Android will become the dominant operating system – and considering its current traction, that would hardly be a surprise – while Chrome OS will perish before 2011 is over.
Update: more from Buchheit in the FriendFeed thread:
ChromeOS has no purpose that isn’t better served by Android (perhaps with a few mods to support a non-touch display).
I was thinking, “is this too obvious to even state?”, but then I see people taking ChromeOS seriously, and Google is even shipping devices for some reason.
Do you agree with his assertion, or do you think Chrome OS and Android can co-exist?
It should be pretty clear by now that Google is taking location very seriously. The original launch of Latitude in early 2009 was just a first step. Now they have robust APIs, Google Places, and key executive Marissa Mayer is now in charge of these and various related projects. And earlier today they finally rolled out a Latitude iPhone app. But if a fairly small tweak to Chrome is any indication, Google means to go deeper still.
Every piece of technology has both good and bad attributes. Nothing is perfect. Not even the iPhone. (Well, at least not until that AT&T exclusivity ends.) But until three days ago, I had never used a product with attributes that are both insanely awesome and shockingly awful at the same time. Welcome into the world, Cr-48.
Now, Google has made it very clear that they don’t intend to release this product as it stands. As such, they’ve more or less asked those they’ve sent it to not to review it as a completed product. But it’s pretty much impossible to avoid talking about the hardware here because for most of us, it is the first and only gateway we’ve had into Chrome OS. Plus, there’s a lot of interest in this particular device among our readers, so I’m going to talk about it.
Simply put: the hardware is pretty bad. Actually, maybe not so much bad, as annoying as all hell. But the only reason it’s so annoying is because Chrome OS, even in its very early, fairly rough stage, is that good. Well, potentially that good.
While Jason wrote up his initial thoughts after a day with the device, I’ve been using it as my primary machine for just about three days now. Also, I likely have a different perspective as I’m currently traveling — something which a Chrome notebook should be perfect for.
Initially, when I took it out of the box, I sort of wanted to laugh at the Cr-48. Jason compared its look to that of one of the old 12-inch PowerBook G4s. But actually, I think it’s closer to a combination of an old 12-inch iBook and one of the previous generation MacBooks — the one that came in black. In fact, when you open it up and start typing on it, it feels very similar to that MacBook.
Of course, that MacBook is also a few years old already. And when compared to the new MacBook Air, this thing looks like a bloated dog. One covered in some kind of rubber blanket. The fact that it has a VGA port, an ugly side grill for the fan, and yet only one USB port, doesn’t help.
But again, this is a prototype device. So we have to cut Google some slack here. As far as I know, they haven’t said which of their manufacturing partners made this thing, but let’s hope it was the cheapest device possible for them to produce and that’s why it exists as it does.
I really do hope that’s the case.
For the last week there's been a frenzy of news around Chrome OS and Google's Cr-48 — a new, unbranded notebook computer that Google is distributing to early adopters so that it can test Chrome OS before its big public launch. Google has given some of these laptops to the press (you can see our first impressions right here), and it's letting developers and other early adopters request one through a variety of contests, forms, and other channels. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to receive a Cr-48 — most people will have to wait til consumer devices ship next year. But we've got one more way to boost your odds: the folks at Google have been kind enough to give us five Cr-48 laptops to give away to our readers. Read on to find out how you can get a chance to win.