We have been anxiously awaiting the release of the newest Chromebook. After reading about the larger Chromebook 550 last year, we wondered if this smaller version might be the answer to our ‘bigger than a tablet and netbook’ and ‘better for travel than a laptop’ needs.
With it’s smaller memory (16GB – not expandable), you most certainly will be relying on the cloud (100GB free for 2 years from Google) to store your documents, music and images. This is not necessarily a drawback as you can then access those same files from other computers as needed.
The battery life is estimated to be about 6.5 hours which is plenty for travelers on long flights or extended car rides and the weight is under 2.5 pounds – ideal for slipping into a backpack or large purse. Total thickness is under an inch (0.7″ to be exact) yet the screen size is just under 12″ and it has a full size keyboard (no full numeric keyboard but I guess that would just make it TOO perfect).
So what are the drawbacks to the new Chromebook? Other than the lack of storage space on the device (although it does accept memory sticks and SD cards), you will have to get used to web based applications such as Google Docs or Microsoft Live Documents for productivity and office type programs. Again – not necessarily a bad thing – just a shift in the programs that most businesses and people currently use.
Another benefit is the built-in virus protection which stays updated as well as the start-up speed of around 10 seconds (how long did your Windows based machine take to load this morning?). For the all-important internet access, you can count on 802.11 dual band WIFI access (a/b/g/n enabled). It is also Bluetooth enabled, has 2 USB ports and a built-in VGA camera for Skyping. Honestly, this has just about everything most folks would need – especially if used as a spare or travel computer.
Google will also be releasing another version that is 3G enabled so that like your smartphone or tablet computer, you can have access to the internet without relying on a network or WIFI. This adds another $70 to the price but in addition, you will have to pay monthly access charges to use the 3G. I think the WIFI is enough for us for now.
Ready to purchase a Google Chromebook? They are currently available at Amazon (short delays right now for orders) and some Best Buy stores (call before heading down there).
We are sure that the Chromebook will be a hot seller for the holiday season at $250.