As a possible replacement to standard computers, netbooks have received little fanfare. The smaller, more lightweight and less expensive laptops are a smart alternative to less mobile desktop machines and even some laptops. The small size make them perfect for travel, or just for looking up a recipe in the kitchen.
The popularity of Apple’s iPad and netbooks produced by lesser-known hardware manufacturers hasn’t made it easy for consumers to embrace the concept behind netbooks. That will change, however, if Google has anything to do with it, starting with the announcement of Chromebooks.
Polishing the Netbook
Chromebooks are netbooks with the Google (Chrome) OS running on them. The first models, machines made by Samsung and Acer, are basically updated versions of CR-48 netbooks that Google sent to about a thousand beta testers. How do they work? Put simply, everything you would normally keep on your machine (i.e. all of your data) lives instead on the “cloud.” You use web apps to access your data and store everything remotely. So, if you should lose or damage the Chromebook, you don’t sacrifice any precious data.
Each Chromebook runs Google’s Chrome OS, a browser-based operating system that uses mainly web apps. The Chrome OS also includes an improved file manager, notification system and integration with Box.net for cloud storage, and both Netflix and Hulu for entertainment. You use your Google account to log into the service and because of the way the OS is authenticated by Google, when you log in, there are no updates, viruses or any other aggravating issues you may encounter with your usual PC. To sweeten the deal, Google plans to offer offline versions of some of its more popular apps this summer (including Gmail, Docs and Calendar), so users aren’t constantly tethered to the web.
Trying to understand the cloud? Watch an introduction to Chromebooks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVqe8ieqz10
Meet the Contenders
The Samsung Chromebook releases on June 15, 2011, in the U.S. and throughout most of Europe, with its wi-fi version selling for $429. There’s also a $499 option that includes 3G, plus Verizon is providing 100 MB of data usage for no additional charge for the first two years. Acer’s machine ($349) releases the same day. However, the Samsung Chromebook appears to be the more robust of the two, based on initial specs:
- 12.1-inch display with 1280×800 resolution and 300 nit screen
- Dual-core 1.66 GHz Intel Atom processor
- HD webcam, noise-canceling microphone
- 2 USB ports, 4-in-1 memory card slot, mini-VGA port
- Full-sized keyboard and clickable trackpad
- Weighs 3.26 pounds
- 11.6-inch HD Widescreen display
- Weighs 2.95 pounds
- 6.5-hour battery life
- World Mode 3G model available in the future
A Chromebook For Everyone
It’s not only consumers that Google is pursuing with Chromebooks. Businesses and students also rank high on the list of potential users. Google has even set up a plan where businesses can pay $28 monthly per user to get a Chromebook and software support, while students receive the same service for a $20 monthly fee. Google manages the operating system updates and provides warranty service for the hardware.
Sure, there are cheaper netbooks and tablets but nothing as integrated as what Google is planning. And considering Google’s web expertise with data and software synchronization (anyone use Google Docs?), it’s easy to see the potential appeal of these new Chromebooks.
Like Apple’s iPad and iPhone, it’s games, productivity apps and – even more importantly– ease of use and additional features that will most likely drive Chromebook sales. No wonder, then, that the Google development platform is white hot. Digital Media Academy offers an incredible 3D Game Development for Google Android Devices Summer Camp. The course, taught by industry and app development professionals, is one of the most popular that DMA offers. If you’re looking for a way to enter the exciting world of Google app development, this is it.
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