So the Chromebook has finally been announced, and first models will ship on June 15 in select countries (US and several European countries). Both Acer and Samsung have revealed some of the specs of the netbooks running Google's Chrome OS. Both Chromebooks will be powered by a dual-core Intel Atom cpu and a 1280x800 display. Both have built-in WiFi and optionally 3G for connectivity. The Samsung device is estimated to run for 8.5 hours without power connection, Acer's device for 6 hours.
Some specs have not been revealed yet. We do not know the MHz of the cpu, the size of the internal hard drive or the RAM. Acer's Chromebook starts at $349, Samsung's at $429, which is pricey if you compare it to other netbook offers.
But hardware or appearance is not the thing that sets the netbook aside from other offerings. It is that it ships with Chrome OS, Google's attempt to get a foothold in the operating system market.
Instead of writing a long article about Chrome OS' advantages and disadvantages, I though it would be nice to post a top 5 list instead. The top 5 things that get me excited, and the top 5 things that disappoint.
- Security - Google has designed Chrome OS with security in mind, just like they did when they designed the Chrome browser. Applications run sandboxed which means that malware can only affect what's inside the sandbox, and not something that's outside of it. While it may affect the browser, it cannot affect the underlying operating system. That is, unless the sandbox gets penetrated. The user home directory furthermore is encrypted by default which means that temporary Internet files, cookies and other user related data are not accessibly by anyone else. [reference].Chromebook users furthermore get options to restore a previous "working" version of the operating system, and automatic integrity checks during boot time to verify that files have not been manipulated.
- Guest Mode - If you are a Chrome OS user, you can access all your personal data and files on any device running Chrome OS as long as the device has an active Internet connection.
- Cloud Storage - This has some advantages, like accessibility of your personal data on all devices running Chrome Os.
- Fast Boot - It takes less than ten seconds from booting Chrome OS to having it fully operational.
- Ease of Use - If you know how to operate a web browser, you know how to operate Chrome OS.
- Cloud Storage - With all the news regarding Cloud storage break-ins, security issues and data loss, it may not sound like a good idea to rely primarily on the cloud.
- Compatibility - With Chrome OS, you cannot run your Windows applications directly. Google's solution is virtualization so that you can run those applications. It is however not clear how this is handled at this point in time, and how users can get their applications to run on the Chromebook.
- Google Account link - Your Chrome Os account is linked to a Google account. Google may collect even more information about you this way, even if you use a fake Google account just for the Chromebook.
- Less choice: Would you buy an operating system where you had to use the default browser? Yes, you may be able to run Firefox or Opera in a virtual machine but that again does not sound overly comfortable, considering that this will have an impact on performance.
- Decent Internet connection - You will need a decent Internet connection to get most out of the device. You get offline access to some of your files and documents, but for the majority of things, you will need a decent Internet connection.
I for one will not buy a Chromebook at this point in time. I'd like to play around with one though, to experience it first hand. What's your take on this?