What Is A Chromebook?
Google introduced a new category of cloud computing device called the Chromebook on the I/O 2011 event. What exactly is a Chromebook? The quick answer is a laptop-like device running Google Chrome OS. But there are several differences between a Chromebook and a traditional laptop/netbook.
Chrome OS while being called an OS is actually an Internet browser with minimal system setting to play with. Unlike the Microsoft Windows or Apple MacOS, the Chrome OS depends on cloud application to perform almost all of the tasks that you would normally do on your local PC program. For example, you will be using Google Doc to manage your documents instead of Microsoft Office, and all of your documents will be stored in the cloud instead of to your local hard drive. There are pros and cons for that which we will discuss later. Of course the Google Doc replacing Microsoft Office is just an example. You will be checking email, playing games, browsing photos, etc.. pretty everything on the web using a Chromebook. That’s why there’s a need for a Chrome Webstore — a place where you can find all the games and apps for your Chromebook. If you have used any Android devices before, the Chrome Webstore is something just like the Android market.
In terms of hardware, the Chromebook is pretty similar to a netbook. Taking the Samsung Series 5 (one of the first Chromebook to hit the market) as an example, it has a 12.1-inch display, a dual-core Intel Atom N570 processor, 16GB SSD for storage, 8.5 hours of battery life, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 4-in-1 memory card slot, Mini-VGA port, and a full-size Chrome keyboard. The major differences we see here between a Chromebook and a typical netbook are the storage and keyboard layout. Typical netbooks comes with larger but slower 250GB hard drive. You won’t need this for a Chromebook since most of your stuff will be stored on the Cloud. And for keyboard, you will find quite a number of standard keyboard keys such as ‘Delete’, ‘Caps lock’ , and ‘Print Screen’ to be missing on the Chromebook’s keyboard, and some extra keys not found on the typical keyboard to be there.
Pros and Cons
What’s Good about Chromebook
Secure Data – The Chromebook is truly a cloud computing device. You can access your data from anywhere at anytime. You won’t loose any data even if you throw your Chomebook into the sea. Get a new Chromebook, login, and tada.. all your stuff are still there.. that’s because everything is stored on the cloud.
Security – Since the Chrome OS is basically just a web browser, there’s less security loopholes to be exploited by hackers. You don’t even need an antivirus.
Instant Bootup – The Chrome OS is a very lightweight OS and it boots up in 8 seconds or less.
What’s The Downside
Internet connection is a must – Since everything is done on the web, you can do almost nothing when you don’t have access to the web. Luckily there’s the 3G version Chromebook that ensures you always get Internet access.
Limitation of web application – Not everything can be done on the web yet. For example, graphic or video editing still requires professional software like Adobe Photoshop.
Price – It isn’t cheap. The Samsung Series 5 is currently selling at $429 for the Wifi version, and $499 for the 3G version. You can get a netbook with similar hardware specs for less than $300.