Thursday, December 23, 2010

Update on the Google Cr-48 ChromeOS notebook

I’ve logged about 20 hours on the Cr-48 (Google’s ChromeOS notebook) now and I am, for the most part, impressed. The most impressive aspect is the speed with which it wakes from sleep or boots from the power-off state. From sleep, as soon as I open the lid, the screen is ready — before my wifi connects, which is usually a couple of seconds after the screen appears. If I’m booting from a power-off state, it is ready to go in a little under 15 seconds (which includes the time it takes me to enter my nine character password, complete with upper case and numeric characters). By comparison (granted, an extremely unfair comparison), my HTC Droid Incredible (running Android 2.2) takes just over 30 seconds to boot from power-off to ready to use. This laptop boots up faster than my phone. I truly never thought I’d be able to say that.

I’ve been using a laptop running Ubuntu Linux (currently 10.10) as my primary personal computing device since 2007, so I’m comfortable with the Linux-based platform of the ChromeOS. (I’ve toyed with the idea of setting the Cr-48 to developer mode and playing around with it a little more, but I haven’t yet.) The Cr-48 hasn’t disappointed me in any performance category yet.
There are some adjustments I’ve had to make. One is to the keyboard. I’m not used to typing on flat keys (my Compaq has the traditional, slightly contoured keys) and it’s taken some time to adjust to the darkened keyboard. The laptop is a matte black with matching keys marked with an almost charcoal gray. My typing speed and accuracy are getting better, so I’m sure I’ll adjust. I miss some of the keys I’ve been used to having on my laptop — there’s no “delete” key, and no “home, end, pg up and pg dn” keys. (There are keyboard shortcuts that address this, but I haven’t learned them yet.)

The other thing I have to watch when I’m typing is the touch pad. I’m getting better, and no doubt I’ll master that soon. It’s just a matter of repositioning my hands when I type so as to not touch the pad.

Another feature I like about the notebook is the automatic sync with the Chrome browser settings on other machines. I had been using Firefox as my default browser on my Linux laptop, though Chrome was installed. (The main reason was because Firefox had more customization options and the AdBlock Plus extension.) After I got the Chrome notebook, I changed my default browser to Google Chrome, imported my bookmarks from Firefox, and fired up the Chrome notebook. Within seconds, my old bookmarks were available on the Cr-48. And another bit of good news for AdBlock Plus fans — it’s now available for the Chrome browser as well!

All in all, my early experiences with the Chrome notebook have been very favorable. I am also happy to report positive experiences with the email Tech Support who not only helped me identify an issue with my router, but also followed up to make sure everything was working properly.

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