What You Need to Know About the New Google Chromebook and Chromebox

Oct 19, 2012  Print Story

Google Chromebook is a lightweight notebook from Google that uses the Google Chrome operating system. Yesterday, in an event conducted in San Francisco, Google unveiled the latest Chromebook, manufactured by Samsung that retails for just 249 dollars.

Here is a video from Google:



The notebook is entirely based on the cloud computing platform of Google known as Drive, operated through Chrome OS. In this article, let us look at the details of Chromebooks and Chromeboxes.

Samsung Chromebook


Look at the images of the current Samsung Chromebook from various angles. Along with Chromebooks, Samsung has released Chromeboxes that compete directly with Apple Mac Mini.

the ports on Google Chromebook
Ports on your Chromebook
Google Chromebook from Samsung
side of the Chromebook

the other side of the Chromebook


the special keys on Google Chromebook
Special keys on the keyboard
Chromebox from Samsung
Samsung Chromebox

Google Chrome Operating System


Chromebook runs entirely on Google Chrome OS. The notebook is not only thin and light, but it contains absolutely no bloatware. All you get with it is the operating system based entirely on Google Chrome browser. Chromebook’s OS contains a media player and a file explorer similar to Windows Explorer.

The Chrome operating system from Google

Google Chrome OS used to be a part of the Chromium open source project that is based on Linux. Chrome OS, however, evolved and became an independent operating system that gets released directly to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Anything you do generally on a Chromebook has to be done over a network that provides cloud computing services. For instance, if you are creating a presentation, you have to rely on Google Drive that has Google Docs apps incorporated. Alternatively, you can go for any online app that provides document editing capabilities. In the same way, you can do anything that you normally do on a computer—only that advanced tasks on Chromebooks require fast and always-on internet connection. However, apps that install offline—the ones you normally download from Chrome Web Store—will work fine without internet access.

Chromebooks run entirely due to cloud syncing that synchronizes the data on the cloud server and on the computer so that apps always have access to the most current information. The operating system updates automatically unlike the Chromium OS project that requires to be built manually.

Hardware


The latest Chromebook released is priced at just USD 249. It is thin and light—at 2.43 pounds, lighter than the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air, heavier and slightly shorter than the 11-inch MacBook Air; much lighter than other Ultrabooks from Toshiba, Dell, Lenovo, etc.

The Samsung Chromebook runs under ARM architecture with Samsung Exynos 5 dual-core CPU clocked at 1.7 GHz. The screen is 11.6 inches HD LED with resolution of 1366 by 768. Ironically enough, Samsung didn’t fit an AMOLED display to it. Most of the portable electronic gadgets from Samsung have AMOLED screens (except for larger screen devices).

With a standard memory (RAM) of 2 GB, Chromebook is extremely capable of running offline apps. However, the internal storage given is just 16 GB solid state drive (SSD). This could have been higher. Google Drive cloud storage service is available on the Chromebook by default. Samsung has made available 100 GB of free online storage through Google Drive for free with this new notebook.

Besides these, almost all of the standard features on a laptop are available—HDMI & VGA ports; memory card slots for SD, SDHC, SDXC, etc. The battery power is perhaps one of the most attractive features of this thin laptop. Chromebook is expected to give you 6.5 hours of operation from its Li-polymer battery.

Due to such light operating system and standard Ultrabook hardware, Chromebooks boot much faster than any other laptop. The proclaimed boot-up time of Samsung Chromebook is around 10 seconds. The prototype tested by Google during the beginning of the development of Chromebooks used to boot in just seven seconds.

Security


Google says multiple layers of security are built into the laptop, rendering it unnecessary to install any antivirus application. On the top of that, with a laptop like the Chromebook, security settings change drastically. Most of your data resides probably on the cloud, not on the laptop itself. Hence it is the cloud that has to be secured.

With Chromebook, the cloud service choice is Google Drive, and it provides the necessary encryption and security that your data needs. It is not known whether other cloud services can be used with Chromebook. There is an assortment of cloud storage services including Apple iCloud, Microsoft SkyDrive, Dropbox, Sugar Sync, etc., that you could use for storing your files online. It would be great if Chromebooks extend support for these services as well.

Conclusion


In short, Chromebooks are not for high-end computing. For such purposes, only a computer that is capable of running offline versions of productive application suites can be used. This, however, is a perfect replacement for Ultrabooks that include major offline operating systems like Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OS X.

With a highly portable computer, a highly portable operating system is a good choice. This is where the Chrome OS and this new computer design make its mark.

Chromebooks are great for various purposes—using online services for image editing, document creation, file management, design tasks, etc. However, the current heavy demand for tablet computers and their ultraportable nature (which exceeds that of Chromebooks) may create a hefty competition to Google’s venture.

 
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