Friday, June 10, 2011

Chromebook First Impressions

I had asked to be a part of Google's early Chromebook preview, the Cr-48 netbook. I wasn't accepted for the program because I'm not a tech blogger. Obviously. I was granted an invitation-only special offer of a Samsung Series 5 Chrome notebook which was available even before the Amazon preorders. This is the first of a series of posts about the Samsung Series 5 I received.
Shiniest slab in the 'verse

First impressions are high, with one caveat. Let's address that catching point first. This thing is expensive. The Samsung Series 5 with Verizon 3G wireless is $500 USD. That's a lot for a "computer" of this type; more than most Android-powered smartphones. But temper that with two years of free Verizon 3G internet (in 100 MB per month increments) and the deal gets pretty sweet. And even after that two years, there's shouldn't be any reason this device couldn't be added to your existing Verizon unlimited data plan you got with your Android phone. But that's Verizon's business opportunity, not an issue with the laptop.

Next up, this thing is pretty. It's has a gloss white shell with a mostly matte black interior. The keys are huge and well spaced; the complete opposite of early netbooks like the Asus Eee line. That's understandable because Samsung sports a 12" widescreen display so there's plenty of room for the controls to stretch out.

I especially like the trackpad. It's the biggest I've ever seen (said that she did). The entire trackpad is also a single button but I recommend turning on tap-to-click. That makes it feel much more responsive.
Under the covers
Final point, this thing starts like a bat out of hell. From open to online in less than 10 seconds. One bit of advice, you'll want to start it near a wi-fi access point. During set-up, Chrome needs to go online to get updated and you can't log in to activate your free Verizon wireless internet access until then so you'll need wi-fi to reach the cloud. Also, if you're using Google's two-factor authentication, and you should be, set up a machine password for your Chromebook. That's because the netbook, like the Android phones, doesn't handle the verification request. I suspect Google will be ironing the wrinkles out of that process soon.

With only a 16 GB SSD and 2 GB of memory, you'll be doing a lot of business through a network connection. But I'm impressed by how well the Chromebook handles it. In fact, I wrote this article on my new Series 5, something I couldn't even attempt to do with my Motorola Droid phone.

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