I am typing this post on my new Samsung Chromebook. I was initially skeptical about such a device, because I viewed it as a nerfed laptop. And to a degree, it is. Normal applications can’t be installed on Chrome OS. I mean, it doesn’t even run Emacs! But despite this, I’m warming up to this portable computer.
With so many tablets, smart phones, and netbooks available, choosing a device is really a decision of aligning the correct device for your need. For example, I have a desktop that’s my main workhorse, but I wanted a convenient portable device, that could still get “work” done. Which for me means that it has a keyboard and can get access to email and the Internet.
So, the Chromebook fits that niche pretty well. If you already drink the Google koolaid, than all of the Google services integrate well with Chrome (one would only hope…). That and the keyboard is actually very nice. I switched the “search” button with the ctrl key, but other than that it’s a very nice keyboard. Probably not as nice as keyboards that cost more than the Chromebook itself, but otherwise not bad. [Update 21JAN13: I posted a script to fix the trackpad issue here]
To mitigate against the limited OS (which to be fair, is limited by design), there is the option of dual booting linux. Aptly named, ChrUbuntu (still in Alpha) provides a nice way to have a $249 ARM powered linux laptop (there’s no fan on this laptop!). Amazon was sold out of them about two weeks ago, but it promptly arrived (yeah for Amazon Prime) once they received more in stock. For me, I get my linux fix by sshing into a linux machine. There is a built-in shell on Chrome OS or there is an Chrome app which nicely integrates ssh.
So, despite some drawbacks like not supporting Netflix (which I think is due to Chrome OS’s lack of support for Silverlight), it is a super portable laptop with a decent keyboard. And for $249, it’ll do 90% of what users want to do: get on the Internet. Other options, either better resolution tablets or higher powered laptops are at least twice as much and add only 10% of the features.