Saturday, February 5, 2011

Product review: Google Notebook Chrome OS - The First Week

It's officially been one week since I opened the box and let a Chrome Notebook (CR-48) into my life. Overall, it's my sense of duty as a tester that's keeping me using it.

UPDATED

Here's what I love:
* It's light
It may be too big to shove into my purse, but I could throw it into a bigger purse or backpack and shlep without throwing out my back.

* The battery life is great!
(full disclosure, my other laptop has a batterylife of 18mins, I could use it to time a matzah factory)
I ran a test of it, running 2-3 tabs plus streaming Pandora and I went from 100% to 50% in 4hrs.

* It's so fast!
From sleep to awake in 5-10secs, from shut down to start up in a scant few minutes. Compared to my 2 year old dinosaur, it's a cheetah. Websites load quickly.Hulu videos load quickly. No frustrations in that arena.

* It's Chrome
As a Chrome user I know where everything is and feel comfortable using all the usual Chrome features like search from the address bar and other navigation. The addons work the same, the settings are in the same place, it's home.

* 2 year contract for Verizon 3G, 100MB/mos for free!
Great for using on the go. 100MB is not much at all, but there is an option to pay for unlimited if I want (which I don't thanks to the problems listed in the bottom of this post).

And it would only be fair for full disclosure that I include the things that make me want to tear my hair out. Now I love Google, I know this is a beta, but I sure wish it was all roses and smooches!

Here's why I can't use it day to day:

* I can't install the programs I use for work, so I can't use the laptop for work.
I understand the power and pull of the move to cloud computing, but this only works when everyone is on board. I use Salesforce for work as a database admin, as far as I know there is no way to take data from a Google doc and run through ID matching or upload into the SF database.

* As of yet there is no way to watch Netflix Watch Instantly videos, so I can't use the laptop for play
Hulu works and Amazon video works, but Netflix is a big chunk of my video streaming usage. It's a known problem since Netflix uses MS Silverlight and Chrome depends on HTML5. Will there be a fix, workaround, or change? Who knows.

* More bad Buzz: The speakers work 50% percent of the time
There is no hardware branding to be seen on the machine. This means I have no where to go for hardware trouble shooting. Could I fix it if my Linux skills were dusted off? Maybe. I've looked around and there are many communities for Chrome OS users that have popped up with forums, but this isn't an official fix. I found the Linux terminal by hitting ctl+atl+t, but it has limited functionality.

* The minimalist touchpad makes right clicking the bane of my existence. Again less than 50% success rate

Thanks to the anonymous poster my right clicking woes are over! Instead of trying to finagle the two fingered click I can now hit alt+touchpad! Thanks!

I'm used to the 2 button touchpad. The CR-48 has just one big touchpad with click enabled, minimal scrolling, and a tricky 2 finger right click. I am either a spaz, impatient, or just your normal user, but I can't get the blasted thing to work. This comes up a bazillion times a day while I try to open a link in a new tab, spell check, etc. I'm hoping this will resolve the same way the touchscreen newness did, with time and practice.

* the SD card reader doesn't work.
As in, if you put an SD card in, it does NOTHING! I'm not alone in this, as my surfing has shown, but why is it there? A place holder or a test to see what I do when confronted with a problem as a beta tester. No idea.

* Missing buttons
I don't mind that they replaced the capslock button with a search button. Like Google mentions in their manual, only commenters on YouTube NEED CAPSLOCK TO MAKE THEIR POINT. The rest of us can caps shift. But the Home, End, and Page Up and Down buttons, just make navigating lots of text easier. There is a bit of alt+touchpad action and there are scrollbars on the pages, but still something I miss.

I can imagine that there will be software updates and fixes for some of the problems, but what about the hardware issues? If this is a laptop I get to keep, and the 2yr Verizon contract implies long term use, will it keep pace with what's out there? What will the CR-48 look like when it goes on sale for general consumption? I"m guessing pretty different than what I'm typing on now.

It's officially been one week since I opened the box and let a Chrome Notebook (CR-48) into my life. Overall, it's my sense of duty as a tester that's keeping me using it.


UPDATED

Here's what I love:
* It's light
It may be too big to shove into my purse, but I could throw it into a bigger purse or backpack and shlep without throwing out my back.

* The battery life is great!
(full disclosure, my other laptop has a batterylife of 18mins, I could use it to time a matzah factory)
I ran a test of it, running 2-3 tabs plus streaming Pandora and I went from 100% to 50% in 4hrs.

* It's so fast!
From sleep to awake in 5-10secs, from shut down to start up in a scant few minutes. Compared to my 2 year old dinosaur, it's a cheetah. Websites load quickly.Hulu videos load quickly. No frustrations in that arena.

* It's Chrome
As a Chrome user I know where everything is and feel comfortable using all the usual Chrome features like search from the address bar and other navigation. The addons work the same, the settings are in the same place, it's home.

* 2 year contract for Verizon 3G, 100MB/mos for free!
Great for using on the go. 100MB is not much at all, but there is an option to pay for unlimited if I want (which I don't thanks to the problems listed in the bottom of this post).

And it would only be fair for full disclosure that I include the things that make me want to tear my hair out. Now I love Google, I know this is a beta, but I sure wish it was all roses and smooches!

Here's why I can't use it day to day:

* I can't install the programs I use for work, so I can't use the laptop for work.
I understand the power and pull of the move to cloud computing, but this only works when everyone is on board. I use Salesforce for work as a database admin, as far as I know there is no way to take data from a Google doc and run through ID matching or upload into the SF database.

* As of yet there is no way to watch Netflix Watch Instantly videos, so I can't use the laptop for play
Hulu works and Amazon video works, but Netflix is a big chunk of my video streaming usage. It's a known problem since Netflix uses MS Silverlight and Chrome depends on HTML5. Will there be a fix, workaround, or change? Who knows.

* More bad Buzz: The speakers work 50% percent of the time
There is no hardware branding to be seen on the machine. This means I have no where to go for hardware trouble shooting. Could I fix it if my Linux skills were dusted off? Maybe. I've looked around and there are many communities for Chrome OS users that have popped up with forums, but this isn't an official fix. I found the Linux terminal by hitting ctl+atl+t, but it has limited functionality.

* The minimalist touchpad makes right clicking the bane of my existence. Again less than 50% success rate

Thanks to the anonymous poster my right clicking woes are over! Instead of trying to finagle the two fingered click I can now hit alt+touchpad! Thanks!

I'm used to the 2 button touchpad. The CR-48 has just one big touchpad with click enabled, minimal scrolling, and a tricky 2 finger right click. I am either a spaz, impatient, or just your normal user, but I can't get the blasted thing to work. This comes up a bazillion times a day while I try to open a link in a new tab, spell check, etc. I'm hoping this will resolve the same way the touchscreen newness did, with time and practice.

* the SD card reader doesn't work.
As in, if you put an SD card in, it does NOTHING! I'm not alone in this, as my surfing has shown, but why is it there? A place holder or a test to see what I do when confronted with a problem as a beta tester. No idea.

* Missing buttons
I don't mind that they replaced the capslock button with a search button. Like Google mentions in their manual, only commenters on YouTube NEED CAPSLOCK TO MAKE THEIR POINT. The rest of us can caps shift. But the Home, End, and Page Up and Down buttons, just make navigating lots of text easier. There is a bit of alt+touchpad action and there are scrollbars on the pages, but still something I miss.

I can imagine that there will be software updates and fixes for some of the problems, but what about the hardware issues? If this is a laptop I get to keep, and the 2yr Verizon contract implies long term use, will it keep pace with what's out there? What will the CR-48 look like when it goes on sale for general consumption? I"m guessing pretty different than what I'm typing on now.

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6 comments:

  1. Found this when looking for some Chrome OS news, and figured I'd comment on the stuff that's giving you trouble.

    Alt + tapping on the touch pad will help save your sanity for left clicking.

    There should be an update to take care of the audio problems. Just click the update button for a while if there isn't.

    SD cards and the media player for pics and music and stuff are available if you type about:flags into your browser and turn those options on.

    Hope that helps.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Also, you do get to keep it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow! Thank you for saving me from right-click rage! That trick totally worked!

    Otherwise my OS is updated and my about:flags are all enabled without a change to the other problems :(

    As far as I know i get to keep it, especially since I get a 2yr contract for 3g I can't imagine them asking for it back before then. One of the perks of being a beta, makes up for some of the downsides, no?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Definitely. A free laptop and a bit of 3G every month for two years, I'll take that, lol.

    No problem on the right click thing, and sorry about the other two; I think I may be on a different update channel from you. Those two fixes should probably be headed your way soon though.

    ReplyDelete
  5. After refreshing the "update Chrome" button a zillion times I gave up. And a few hours later it prompted to update, lol. We'll see if the problems are solved! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.

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    ReplyDelete