The Google Cr-48 on vacation in Marco Island, Florida
As I type this, I’m sitting on the balcony of my vacation timeshare in Florida overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
I considered leaving all of my primary computing devices home this Christmas vacation, and seeing if I could “Rough it” with just our Android-based smartphones.
Instead, I decided I would compromise — this vacation, I left my prized iPad and my work laptop PC home, and brought along two unproven traveling companions — a Google Cr-48 Chrome OS-powered notebook and another device which I’ll discuss in a future article.
As it has been widely reported already by ZDNet and other technology news outlets, the Google Cr-48 is a limited-production notebook computer, of which only 60,Office 2010 pro key,000 have been produced and which will serve as a technology demonstrator and large beta test of Chrome OS, Google’s 100-percent Cloud-dependent operating system.
Beta testers are invited to apply to join the program, but only a lucky few will be chosen. Only certain members of the press were given access to these systems — as it turns out, I was not one of them and Google has declined my request to put the device through an extensive formal review process, citing availability and high demand for the units.
However, one of my industry colleagues who received the unit to evaluate felt I could do a much better job putting the Cr-48 through its paces than they could, so we met the night before I departed for Florida to share dinner and drinks and to transfer the goods. My wife and I have been using it as my main computing device on vacation ever since.
Chrome OS is little more than a Linux kernel which allows the core services and the hardware drivers of system to function and to support its only “App” and central UI, the Google Chrome 9.0 browser. The Chrome browser in turn acts as a front-end to Google’s services,storage server 2008 key, such as GMail, Google Docs and their Web Store, which allows a multitude of other web-based apps to be plugged into a centralized menu screen.
If you know how to use a web browser,Office 2010 Pro Plus key, you pretty much already know how to use Chrome OS.
ZDNet Coverage: Google Cr-48 and Chrome OS
While Chrome OS’s source code is Open Source, you can’t easily install the latest Google build of the software on any old x86 hardware yet like you can with a typical Linux distribution such as Ubuntu or Fedora.
It is expected that other vendors are going to pre-load this software on future mobile computing products. This begs the question of whether or not Google is actually going to provide some sort of installable “distribution” for hobbyists and OEMs,Office 2010 Key, or if a 3rd-party is going to take the source code and run with it, such as with the early “Hexxeh” builds that were made available by a UK-based college student this last year.
As it is a pilot program, the Cr-48 is meant to be something of a reference platform for future mass-produced Chrome OS netbook hardware, but to say that the template is set in stone is highly unlikely. There will almost certainly be different variations on screen sizes,Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade Key, battery life and connectivity options for Chrome OS-based products.
Additionally, it would not surprise me to see this platform installed on desktop Thin Clients, such as on devices produced by WYSE and similar manufacturers addressing that vertical market as well as for end-users in the consumer space.
The hardware on the Cr-48 is specifically designed to take advantage of this minimalist approach. The Pegatron-produced device resembles a standard Intel Atom-based netbook computer with a 12″ screen,Vista Key, but that is where the similarities end. For example, the keyboard has been optimized to discard all legacy keys from Windows and even the Mac.
All of the function “F” keys have been eliminated, and replaced with browser action keys, such as Page Back/Forward, Page Reload,Visio 2007 Key, Fullscreen toggle and Window toggle. The Caps Lock key has also been eliminated, perhaps as a nod to conventional Internet messaging etiquette.
For mouse navigation, Google has provided an oversized trackpad manufactured by Synaptics (The “Clickpad” ) which can either be lightly tapped to confirm dialog activity or mechanically depressed. There are no mouse buttons, and the “Right-click” function is done by either using “Alt-tap” or “Alt-depress” or actually hooking up a two-button mouse to the notebook’s single USB port. Cursor navigation is provided using arrow directional keys.
In my use of the device,Windows Xp Key, I’ve found that an inexpensive two button optical mouse with scroller (which I purchased from the local Radio Shack down here in Marco Island) goes a long way towards preserving your sanity and vastly improves the overall experience using Chrome OS, particularly if you are used to working with PCs and/or the Chrome browser on Linux or Windows.
[EDIT: Apparently, you can also right-click by tapping or clicking on the Cr-48 trackpad with 2 fingers, side by side, OS X style. It also supports 2-finger scrolling.]
Next: The Browser-only OS Learning Curve »