It’s been just over a year since Google released the Chromebook, which they are marketing as a lightweight laptop that doesn’t run a traditional operating system, have a cd drive or any of the frills you’d expect from even the most modest of netbooks. Essentially, it’s a computer that has Google Chrome and some Office®-type software that allows you to work on documents, browse the net and well that’s about it. Then again, on a cheap laptop, what do you really need it to do anyway?
When I was in New York back in February, the friend I was staying with received a mysterious package in the mail and decided to open it while we were all there. He pulled out a strange-looking black netbook that had no logos, brand names or stickers of any kind on it. It was small, sleek and didn’t have a rom drive. From the looks of it, it was your run of the mill netbook except with a 11.6″ screen.
Once he turned it on, the device booted into a strange, but refreshing operating system known as ChromeOS. He then told us that months before, he had signed up to become a beta tester for Google to test out the new OS they were building around Chrome. The arrival of this netbook was a surprise given that he had forgot all about signing up for it. At any rate, we played around with it and noticed that this wasn’t your average computer. It wasn’t a watered-down version of Windows and it wasn’t trying to do things it wasn’t meant to do…it was simply a cloud computer.
I’ve talked about cloud computing before and I have to tell you, ChromeOS nails it! The computer boots in 8 seconds and has nothing on it except the Internet. That sounds funny to say while you’re holding a laptop, but it really only has a web browser. Everything is managed over the Internet through integration with all of Google’s services like Google Docs, Gmail, Maps, etc. This video explains it all:
Amazon has already created the product pages for the new Chromebooks from Acer and Samsung. There doesn’t appear to be any price points at this time, but I can’t imagine this device costing much for than a few hundred dollars. More details to follow.