It's Consumer Electronics Show 2014 Day 0, and we have hands-on with new Acer and Toshiba Chromebooks -- and both share the same flaw: Yes, flaw. Not enough memory, like HP Chromebook 11, among other newer models. I know margins are tight on these things, but how much more costly really would be 4GB? I can say from absolute experience that 2GB simply isn't enough, particularly if the objective is Chromebook replacing Mac or Windows PC.
Shared memory takes a good chunk out of that 2GB, let alone Chrome running atop Linux. What are these manufacturers thinking? One foot in the Chrome OS outdoors, but rest of body inside Windows? Because Chromebook with 2GB of RAM, even running a Haswell processor, stretches to replace a Windows PC. Make that 4 gigs, and the experience can be as good or better. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, you can stop laughing now. I can hear you all the way down in San Diego.
Consumer Electronics Show 2014 starts next week, and that means tech companies tripping over one another to get the goods front and center early. No one really waits for Day One anymore, and Acer picks Day -4 to announce another touchscreen Chromebook -- this one in Moonstone White. Moonstone? Does it light up the Google cloud at night?
The white C720P joins the darker sibling launched in late November. Touch is the C720P's defining characteristic for the price. Google is the only other company selling a touchscreen Chromebook, and it starts much higher -- $1,299. Anyone looking for the feature on a budget laptop running Chrome OS, Acer C720P is it.
While the percentage of incidents was rather low, Google was forced to pull the HP Chromebook 11 from the market due to an overheating charger. Since then, the company has come out with a replacement model, and has begun shipping them out to customers who were affected.
Though the notebook has not yet reappeared in the Play store, it has now gone back up for sale via Amazon. The device is once again listed as "in stock", selling for the $279 that it previously went for.
Besides girth, Oprah Winfrey and I have something else in common -- we both like to share our favorite things. At the end of every year, I like to reflect on some of my favorite tech products.
This was a very wild year for me as most of the things on my list changed the way I both interact with and think about computers. It contains both hardware and software. So, without further ado, please read on for my list.
As someone who has lived through a home fire, I am very anxious about it. Any time I smell a neighbor's fireplace, I will investigate. I am still haunted by the night that I lost all of my belongings -- standing barefoot in the street watching the brave firemen fight the blaze.
When Google stopped sales of the HP Chromebook 11 due to a faulty charger, I was faced with a major conundrum. I love using that computer, but now I was scared to charge it. Even though Google suggested charging it with any other microUSB charger, I was still too concerned to leave it charging unattended. Plus, when I did use a different charger, I got a warning message that the charger was underpowered and charging would take longer. Finally today, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announces an official recall of the dangerous charger.
Things are starting to get festive, and that means there's also a lot going on. This past week has been quite a busy one! It might not come as a surprise, but the figures are in -- Windows 8.1 is not performing anywhere near as well as Windows 7 in terms of sales. Part of the reason for the slower adoption could be the Start screen and the absence of the Start menu. There has been some debate here at BetaNews about the possibility that the Start menu could make a return. Brian is very much opposed to the idea, I think it's probably a good idea, particularly for business users, while Wayne showed us how to get the Start menu back right now.
The backlash against NSA surveillance continues, and now Microsoft, Apple, Google and a number of other big names have joined forces and written to President Obama asking for reform. Joe was not impressed. To help protect user accounts, Microsoft beefed up security.
Microsoft has been busy attacking the Chromebook recently, trotting out spokesman Ben Rudolph to handpick "people on the street" to tell him why the Google-branded laptop wouldn't work for them, and hiring Pawn Stars to call the notebook "a brick". The problem for Microsoft is this -- many of its biggest OEM partners, including HP and Acer, are producing hardware running the rival operating system.
Now Dell is the latest hardware maker, generally associated with Windows, to experiment with alternatives. No, Dell isn't abandoning Windows, just cheating on it with Chrome OS. The Texas-based company has strayed before, producing Android tablets, but this is its first flirtation with a Chromebook.
A few weeks ago Google's Chromebook 11 was removed from sale after an overheating problem was found with some chargers. No recall was ever announced, but users were advised against using the supplied charger in favour of another Micro-USB charger of their own. In fact, both Google and HP have been very quiet since the announcement, but now a new Chromebook 11 charger has appeared in Google Play.
The charger is not currently available; it is listed as 'Coming soon'. It also has a $19.99 price tag associated with it (or £14.99 if you're in the UK). This is a very simple piece of equipment, as illustrated by the short and sweet product description: "Keep your HP Chromebook 11 topped up with an extra charger."
Just over a week ago, Microsoft lashed out at Google with its latest installment in the Scroogled campaign, hiring Pawn Stars to belittle the Chromebook platform. Reaction ranged from positive to negative, but it can't be argued that it did get attention. Despite those negatives, Microsoft has no intention of backing down, and actually added another video to the archive today.
This time, the company has enlisted the aid of its popular spokesperson Ben Rudolph, "Ben the PC Guy", of "Smoked by Windows Phone" fame. Microsoft sent Rudolph out on the streets of Venice, California with a Chromebook in his hands and a camera crew in tow.
Despite the fact that I love Microsoft's recent Scroogled advertisement (which claims a Chromebook is not a laptop), I am a huge fan of Chrome OS. It is a stable, safe and affordable computing platform; it is based on Linux after all. By offering computers as low as $199, many Americans can achieve modern computer ownership -- something that may not have been possible before.
Speaking of the $199 Chromebook, Acer was the pioneer in that pricing. The computer manufacturer's C7 series of Chromebooks has been a heaven-sent offering of value. Today, the company announces it is continuing to deliver value with the all-new C720P -- a touchscreen Chromebook for a rock-bottom price of $299. Holy moly.
While the staff here at BetaNews is a fairly close knit bunch, that doesn't always mean we agree on everything. In fact, debate is a part of daily life. To that end, earlier today my colleague Brian Fagioli took it upon himself to call the latest Scroogled ad, this one against the Chromebook, the "best Scroogled ad yet".
He seems to think all of this behavior is acceptable, even amusing and honest. I suppose if you are a fan of the show Pawn Stars, then you may find it of mild interest. However, what it also turns out to be is utterly untrue.
When it comes to TV advertisements, they can usually go two ways -- flashy or informative. For the most part, flash dominates the airwaves. Sometimes I watch an advertisement and have no idea what the product is. Microsoft is no stranger to the flashy commercial. If you recall the original Surface ads, they featured trendy people dancing, with a focus on the sound that the kickstand made. It was an overall dud.
It is hard to fault a company for taking this approach, as informative ads can be considered boring. However, Microsoft may have found the perfect balance in its latest Scroogled ad, which features the stars of hit TV show, "Pawn Stars". It is one of the best advertisements I have seen in recent memory and Microsoft deserves applause.
When it comes to new and affordable Chromebooks, there are two standouts -- the Acer C720-2800 and the HP Chromebook 11. Even before the HP model was plagued with a defective charger and pulled from the market, I preferred the Acer for its better processor and increased RAM. Not to mention, the Acer is $249, which is $30 less than the under-powered HP.
Today, Acer announces that it is expanding its offering of inexpensive Chromebooks with the C720-2848. This laptop is nearly identical to the existing C720 model except for two things -- it has half the RAM (2GB instead of 4GB) and is $50 cheaper. The question becomes, is the cost saving worth the reduced performance?
Google and HP are, at least temporarily, stopping the sale of the Chomebook 11. Announced in a joint statement on the Google Blog and HP's Next Bench blog. The cessation of sales is blamed on overheating chargers. No recall has yet been declared, but Chromebook owners are told to stop using the charger supplied with the device.
The statement reads: "Google and HP are pausing sales of the HP Chromebook 11 after receiving a small number of user reports that some chargers included with the device have been damaged due to overheating during use. We are working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to identify the appropriate corrective action, and will provide additional information and instructions as soon as we can".
My relationship with Chromebook and Chrome OS has been rocky. When Google first announced the concept, I was highly dubious. After all, I had done all of my computing on Windows and Linux -- locally installed apps were all I knew. Ultimately, curiosity got the best of me and I bought the Samsung ARM Chromebook. The simplicity of the platform melted my heart and I became an enthusiast.
Sadly, I outgrew the Samsung model due to its poor performance -- it is slow on certain websites, like Google+. I decided to postpone the upgrade until the Haswell models would arrive. However, in the midst of the Haswell-Chromebook revolution, HP and Google threw a curve-ball and released the wonderful Chromebook 11, that has an ARM processor, which took an Apple approach to laptop design.