Today's Google-Intel event is a turning point for Chrome OS. The matchup is more magnanimous than Apple shipping the first x86 Macs eight years ago. Intel is after all the other half of Wintel, and the company's coming out for Chrome OS endorses the browser-based operating system as mainstream -- as do a rash of new Chromebooks announced or released over the past month by Acer, Dell, Lenovo, and Samsung.
Chrome OS has huge momentum in the education market, for example. There are news stories about school conversions nearly every week. Those are sales taken away from Apple or Microsoft platforms. Success is shocking, because every new operating system directly competing with Windows has failed since release of version 3.1 two decades ago. The Microsoft monopoly is insurmountable, or was until Google's entrance.
I think it safe to say that the Chromebook movement has exceeded all expectations. What first seemed like a silly Google experiment has blossomed into a legit Windows threat. As the average home user spends more and more time in the browser, Chrome OS becomes the perfect compliment to their lives. The stars definitely aligned for Google too -- a much maligned Windows 8 and poor economy made a low cost alternative laptop very attractive.
While many top manufacturers such as Dell, Acer and HP have created great Chromebooks, the world has been anxious to see Lenovo deliver a consumer model. After all, that company is synonymous with quality. Well, today is that day and the manufacturer has done it in epic fashion, by delivering two models. While the N20 ($279) is rather typical, the N20p ($329) is a multi-mode, touch-screen variant that has my heart aflutter.
Chromebook represents a philosophical change -- a quiet revolution -- in personal computing, where relevance moves from hardware and software to electrical service-like cloud utility. In this brave new world, Chromebook is an appliance meeting most desktop needs, and pricing is closer to microwave ovens than to traditional PCs.
Nowhere is there more receptiveness to adaptation, or willingness to lead technological revolution, than the education market. There is historical precedent and fortunate timing: Chromebook fits neatly. Cost is low, utility is high, and familiarity is great. What is more natural to Millennial students than the web browser? They are accustomed to breathing the cloud's rarefied air and enjoying the benefits of anytime, anywhere computing -- freedom to float. Dell Chromebook 11 is primed for educational use while, unlike Lenovo's model, being easily purchased by anyone. This review addresses the computer's suitability for students, teachers, or you.
Students nowadays are very blessed to have so much inexpensive technology at their fingertips. When I was a young boy in elementary school, I had to learn the Dewey Decimal System so I could find outdated books in a smelly library. Even if I found a decent book, there was often doodles of private-parts on the pages. Hell, writing something like a book report was done with a pen and paper because, who could afford a computer?
Chromebooks and Google services are now empowering students with access to technology that enhances the learning experience and increases group collaboration possibilities. The search-giant even offers a solution called 'Google for Education', which it describes as "affordable devices, innovative tools, and educational content built just for the classroom. Technology that helps inspire curiosity and boost productivity". The Hillsborough Township School District is the first district to offer the complete Google for Education package and it is seeing great success.
Chromebooks are very capable computers that many dismiss as a glorified web browser. However, those detractors should think outside the box a bit. For many people, the low-cost Chromebook can meet all of their needs. If all you need is a hammer, it is silly to argue that the hammer isn't also a screwdriver. If all you need is to drive nails, the hammer is fine.
One company, Doctor.com, has found that Chromebooks are meeting a need in a certain usage case. In other words, it is the right tool for the job. Even though a Macbook or Windows laptop may offer more features, the extra cost is wasted if the features are not needed.
The significance of today's MacBook Air refresh: What is and what isn't. I focus specifically on the smaller model. What is: Slight processor refresh, but lower entry price -- $899 for the masses and $849 for education, both 100 bucks less than yesterday. What isn't: Retina Display screen resolution.
From the perspective of physical size, screen dimension (11.6-inches), resolution (1366 x 768), Intel processor, and core benefits, the lower pricing brings MacBook Air closer to Chromebook, particularly for school purchasers. Both computers compete for educational buyers, and Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung all target the market with compelling Chromebooks. As differences diminish and price gaps lessen, the Apple becomes less appealing by comparison. Stated another way: New pricing shines fresh spotlight on MBA, which similarities to lower-cost Chromebooks are greater for school year 2014-15.
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.