Saturday, June 11, 2011

Chromebook Second Impressions

Next verse, much like the first. I am still impressed by the hardware Samsung put into the Series 5. The wireless antennas, both cellular and wifi, are quick to connect and hold a strong signal. The screen is bright and easy to read. The worst feature of the hardware, and it's going to sound a bit weird, is the keyboard is too big. No really. I've gotten used to typing on the Motorola Droid on-screen keyboard. The Samsung Chromebook keyboard is agoraphobia-inducing. It's expansive and the keys feel like they're too far apart. I know, quirky little nitpick.

I like the software, too. Android is a great operating system for the type of hardware it's installed on and for using a lot of cloud services and Chrome does the same thing for bigger systems. It's fun to pick the differences between Chrome the web browser and Chrome the operating system. It's great code.

I do have one major complaint. And it's totally not an issue with Samsung's hardware or Google's software. Here's the problem, I use over 250 MB every month on my Droid phone and the Chromebook's laptop form factor makes it even easier to go online for high-bandwidth applications like videos. After just a few days, I've burned through my entire 100 MB quota for the month. I knew that low of a cap was going to be a problem. Don't start about that utopia vision of ubiquitous free open wifi because access points are few and far between in the Sonoran Desert. Cellular towers are much more common out here than wireless access points; 3G  is way more available than 802.11.

It gets worse. These bandwidth caps are going to get all up in Verizon's business and I'll tell you why. When Verizon's customers stick to wifi to bypass the caps, that will look bad when Verizon reports their numbers. How? They won't be moving enough data for the number of customers they have. That's a problem when they ask the government for concessions for their "overburdened" network because they will be asked to show their math and their bargaining position will evaporate when they do that. Never come to the negotiating table with an empty folder; it's always a bad sign.