I Don’t Typically Do This

by Martin Gordon

Cr-48 and Chrome OS Thoughts

I signed up for the Chrome OS Pilot Program on Wednesday (using the link from the QR code shown during the presentation) and I was surprised to see that one arrived the next day. I’ve been playing with it for a little bit; here are my thoughts:

  • The hardware is nice. It is plastic, but I don’t feel any creaking. It’s a much nicer version of the old 13" plastic MacBook. I’m doubtful that actual shipping Chrome OS notebooks will feel as solid.
  • The trackpad is a decent enough size, especially when compared to what passes for a trackpad on non-Apple notebooks these days, but aside from that it is complete garbage. It has a hard time ignoring accidental taps and detecting two-finger gestures.
  • Even if you don’t consciously feel the whirring of a hard drive on your notebook, you still know it’s there. I waved the Cr-48 in the air without fear of having the drive head slip onto the platter and ruining the drive (if that even happens anymore these days). I don’t know how much storage the Cr-48 has, nor can I really feel the speed boost, but I’m pretty much sold on SSD.
  • I love the matte screen. I forgot how much I’ve given up in terms of computing enjoyment since switching from a matte PowerBook G4 to a glossy MacBook five years.

For what is supposed to serve only as a reference platform for the Chrome OS, my thoughts lie largely with the hardware. Using the Cr-48 for a few days makes me crave a modern laptop more than it makes me want a more polished Chrome OS. I’m a step closer to picking up a MacBook Air than I was before using this thing.

The software itself is unimpressive. I can see there being times where I don’t need anything but a web browser and a full-size keyboard, but in most cases I can forgo the keyboard and just use the iPad. As a TV companion, the Cr-48 (and probably any notebook) is too big and unwieldy to make me completely happy.

Yes, Chrome OS is a work-in-progress, but I’m just not excited to see what it will become in the next few years (if it’s still around) in the same way I’m excited to see what will come in Honeycomb, 10.7, iOS 5.0 and beyond.