As you may be aware, I am currently at the Acer event in New York City. As a Chromebook fan, I was most excited by the new model that features an Intel Core i3 processor. After all, this should be a very powerful Chrome OS machine.
However, I was not satisfied with seeing it from afar. So, I did what any tech journalist would do, went hands on and snapped some exclusive pictures.
Sorry, but I can't tell you why yet. I have this statement from Samsung PR about 13.3-inch Chromebook 2, in response to my inquiry: "The product is now shipping at the end of May". That puts the computer in the channel a month later than planned. I have asked for a reason but don't expect to get one.
Samsung unveiled Chromebook 2 in March, in 11.6- and 13.3-inch configurations. The company started taking preorders more than two weeks ago, offering a free case to anyone purchasing before April 27. I ordered one on April 8 from Amazon with delivery date of April 29, which put expected launch a day earlier. But then on April 10, Amazon emailed that my new delivery date would be May 2 and the website indicated availability on the 1st. Last week, Amazon changed the date to May 15 and by the beginning of this week to May 29. Around the same time, Samsung stopped taking preorders of this model and the 11.6-inch white. The manufacturer still accepts preorders on the black, smaller Chromebook, for which Amazon lists May 7 release.
I struggle to aptly describe my feelings about Acer's affordable touchscreen Chromebook. The C720P is the lover you keep in the dark, for the benefits, but which you wouldn't be seen with in the daylight. Performance and battery life are wow-worthy. But the plastic exterior looks and feels cheap, and the touchscreen is too dim -- well, for my tastes.
More than two months now using the C720P, I like the computer least of all the Chromebooks to pass my way. I really want to love the laptop, and maybe you will. Perhaps experience using other Chromebooks soils my perception, and I am too quick to compare. That's why I sought, and got, reaction from C720P owners, many of which are more forgiving about appearances for performance benefits. Their responses are essential to this review.
In late-2012, Google released Chrome Remote Desktop, allowing users of the popular browser to provide and receive remote assistance. The feature has been especially useful to those who rely on Chromebooks, which have a much more limited app selection compared to traditional PCs where many tools, like TeamViewer, are available for such tasks.
Now, Google brings Chrome Remote Desktop to Android. Unlike on PCs where the feature can be added to the browser, this tool is a standalone app, designed for both phones and tablets.
What was once the crown jewel of software, Microsoft Office, has arguably been devalued by free offerings. It used to be that when you bought a computer, you pretty much had to buy Office too. Sure, some people got by with the low-rent Works package, but that was not the same. Let's be honest though, most home users only ever used Word, so for these users, many features and programs were for naught.
Unfortunately, the gravy train of overselling home customers has dried up for Microsoft. Don't get me wrong, Microsoft Office is still the best choice for many large businesses. However, many home users can get by without it, thanks to Google Docs and the like. It is up to Microsoft to keep it relevant and desirable. The company is actually doing a good job in this regard, by releasing it for iPad and making it affordable with a 365 subscription. Today, the company does the unthinkable and publishes Office Online to the Chrome Web Store.
Support for Windows XP comes to an end today. Despite that, there are still a fair number of customers continuing to run the aging operating system. While those customers may be a bit sad about the demise, not everyone is.
On the heels of my colleague Joe Wilcox touting Chromebook, Google does the same. The company is taking advantage of this situation to lure current Windows XP users over to its Chromebook platform. In fact, the search giant is using the company's own PR against it, stating "even Microsoft admits: it's time for a change". That statement is followed by an image of an aged computer, complete with CRT monitor.
Today Mihaita Bamburic bids "Goodbye, Windows XP!" Meanwhile, Wayne Williams walks down eXPerience memory lane. For good reason: This week, Microsoft pulls the life support plug -- following many, many, many delays. Henceforth, you use XP at your own risk, or forcibly march forward into the second decade of the 21st Century. You could follow Microsoft to Windows 8.1, or be truly courageous. Mac or Linux laptop are options, or you could go Chromebook. Yeah, you read right.
Here in the United States, Best Buy will trade in your XP clunker and give "minimum of $100 toward the purchase of a new Windows computer, Apple computer or Chromebook". The offer ends April 19, so hurry. The cash back will practically pay for a new Chromebook, which costs so little and does so much -- surely more than your XP wheezer. Someone from the Windows division once told me that O2, as in Oxygen, was one of the runner-up names for XP. How fitting. Your old machine has been living off oxygen for far too long. Pull the plug. I'll give you some reasons why Chromebook.
Over the weekend, I got email from developer Jeff Nelson referencing his blog response to my BetaNews story: "Chromebook belongs to computing's past, not its future". He is among a majority of responders who disagree with my assessments about the future of PCs depending on keyboard and mouse.
Today's Android Wear platform announcement foreshadows exactly where computing is headed. For longer perspective, please see my book The Principles of Disruptive Design. But suffice to say that Google champions "Star Trek"-like computing, where you—by sight, sound, touch, and voice—are the user interface.
Modern offices are not confined to one building. Many enterprises have offices scattered around the world. Not to mention, computers and the internet have afforded many employees the opportunity to work from home. This enables people to spend more time with their family -- something desperately needed in the USA nowadays, as people are working more hours than ever.
One of the most popular solutions for screen-sharing, communication and remote meetings is Cisco's Webex. Unfortunately, most businesses use the service on Windows machines -- Chromebooks are not supported. Well, at least they weren't -- today Google announces a proof-of-concept, which shows Webex running on Chrome OS. This is yet another instance of Google eating away at Microsoft's stronghold on the enterprise.
Choosing the right computer for a task can be tricky. If you spend too little money, you may buy an under-powered machine with poor performance. Conversely, if you spend too much, you may end up with too much power, effectively wasting money. Finding the balance is key.
Chromebooks and Chromeboxes are all the rage lately -- they are great computers if they meet your needs. For many businesses, they would be a bad choice. You see, the firms may need Microsoft Office and other specialized software, which will not run on Google's Chrome OS. However, if your needs are browser-based, it is a great choice. One such company, Concord Hospitality, is utilizing Chromeboxes with great results.
I'm not going to rehash all of the reasons Microsoft has to show concern over rival Chrome OS, but now Google is providing one more to add to that list. It's not major, and likely won't sway someone's decision towards a Chromebook, but it heaps another straw onto the camel's back.
The search giant is offering a 60-day free trial of its Google Music All Access, which normally costs users $9.99 per month -- or $7.99 if you got in very early, as I did.
Early this evening, I exchanged emails with someone writing a blog post about Chromebook. He seeks sales numbers that I doubt are available. Success is a difficult measure despite the hype. In January post "The trouble with new Chromebooks" here and "Twenty-Fourteen isn't Year of the Chromebook" on my personal site, I raise questions about the computer's future.
I extend reservations in the text of my email reply, which follows.
Google's Chromebooks are becoming synonymous with education. Schools are embracing them for the low cost and ease of use. It's hard to argue with that, but I am dubious that it is the best choice for students.
A Windows PC is still the best option for readying a student for the world of business. Outlook, Excel, Access -- these are the programs that a future successful person will learn. Today, Dell announces a new laptop that is focused on education and gives Chromebook a run for its money -- the Latitude 13 Education Series.
My first-ever Chromebook was a Samsung. The 11.6-inch laptop was inexpensive and revolutionary. Heck, it looked like a plasticy Macbook Air -- very sexy. However, all that glitters is not gold. While my relationship with the laptop started strong, the dual-core ARM processor and paltry 2GB of ram proved underpowered. Pages would load slowly, and the lag could be extremely frustrating.
While many people think of Chrome OS as being just a web browser, remember, it is actually a Linux distribution running a web browser. The more RAM the better, with 4GB being the bare minimum for an enjoyable experience. Today, Samsung announces two new ARM-based Chromebooks to serve as a follow-up to the original. Not only is the RAM increased, but the CPU is supercharged too.
Linux is on a roll lately, as Android and Chromebooks continue to gain marketshare. While this should be a win for the open-source community, many purists do not consider Android or Chrome OS to truly be Linux. Of course this is not true, as both operating systems utilize the Linux kernel. However, I understand where Google detractors are coming from; a distribution like Ubuntu is more the traditional approach to using the kernel.
While I too love Ubuntu, I am not a fan of Unity. While I do not hate Canonical's environment, I simply prefer and adore GNOME 3. Today, the first Beta of Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 is here. It's time to brush off that DVD burner, and write that .ISO!