Since opinions are all over the map, it’s hard to draw conclusions about the Chromebook. Gizmodo and Engadget disagree so completely, you wonder if they touched the same Samsung Series 5 Notebook. Gizmodo said it felt cheap and the “plastic body bends like stale bread,” while Engadget said, “The hardware feels tremendous — stiff, solid and well appointed.”
Although the hardware end is up for grabs, we can’t forget that at the heart of the Chromebook is a lightweight cloud-based OS where apps install seamlessly and the entire system is secure and updated without the user’s intervention.
I played with ChromeOS a few months ago when I got the bright idea of re-purposing my kids’ old PCs. For the cost of a $10 USB stick I could install the OS on machines that were too slow to handle XP, let alone Win7. A lot of sites provide the code to build the OS, and I was able to do it in an hour though I’m not a programmer. Other than the USB stick, you’ll need a PC with an NIC that the OS can recognize and a BIOS that boots to USB. Oh, and you’ll need a Gmail account.
It’s perfect for the kids. When I leave them alone with XP for a month, the PC runs like sludge. ChromeOS is still running clean.
But is a Chromebook good for me? All I see is another data plan. I’m already in deep with Comcast for my landline, AT&T for my iPad, Verizon for my Droid. A Chromebook will set me back as much as $50 a month. The first 100MBs is free for the first two years, but when everything is in the cloud 100mbs just won’t be enough. I’m already watching the power meter; I don’t want to watch the packet meter. Right now I’ve tethered my Droid to my Win7 netbook and used 2.1MB just writing and researching this post, and that’s with Word 2010, not Google Docs.
I have enough subscriptions. I don’t need another with my laptop, no matter how fast it goes from 0 to net.