The Cr-48 itself is a capable computing platform. The highlights of the performance are definitely in startup and resuming from sleep. Since it’s operating a very lightweight operating system, and using solid-state storage to do so, you can go from Off to working in about 12-15 seconds. If you simply close the lid and put the Cr-48 to sleep, resuming is as instantaneous as the backlight of the LCD coming on. The browser itself is quick, although I have had some startup delays as it tries to negotiate a network connection.
Loading and dealing with websites doesn’t seem to phase the processor, although as you start cranking up the resolution on videos, you can see things start to stutter. Moving to HD video on YouTube, for instance, really gave the hardware some trouble…standard definition video wasn’t any problem, though. While I can imagine there are obscure plugins that aren’t supported in ChomeOS, there is one massively popular site that simply doesn’t work with the Cr-48: Netflix. Netflix streaming works with Microsoft’s Silverlight plugin, which isn’t available for Linux, and the ChromeOS browser has no way to handle this limitation. I’m sure that Google is talking with Netflix about this, but until they move to some form of HTML5 video streaming, it’s just off the table. Hulu has some problems as well, but this is due mainly to the poor Flash support for Linux.
Dealing with more pedestrian web fare, creating documents, even editing photos in Aviary was no problem. There’s a ton of things that ChromeOS handles just fine, and I was able to do quite a bit of work on it. The hardware performance while working was average. I love the keyboard, as it is reminiscent of the chiclet-style of the current Macbooks, but the trackpad needs some firmware love quick. It’s just very quirky, and had trouble recognizing two-finger taps much more often than I’d like. I’d give the keyboard an A grade, while the trackpad gets a D…overall, it’s like that kid in class that gets average grades, but could be really good if they just put in a little more time.
Google has launched their own ebook store, in direct competition with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other commercial ebook stores. There are a number of really interesting pieces to the books in the Google Book experience, such as:
For me, this is a much more interesting eBook experience than the B&N store…the only thing that has parity with this is Amazon’s Kindle. With the standardization on Adobe DRM ePub files, Google is using most common combination of filetype and protection…and books that are not currently under copyright are provided DRM free. As a matter of fact, since the DRM decision is made by the publisher, if the publisher decides to release the ebook without DRM entirely, they can do that. That’s huge moving forward as the eBook market matures.
Consumers now have yet another option in the eBook marketplace, and libraries have yet another competitor in the hearts and minds of patrons. Hopefully we can find ways to make it work for us, and not against us.
It’s been too long in coming, but I think I speak for everyone when I say that I’m going to use this like crazy. I start nearly every writing project on Google Docs these days, and this is going to make everything much easier to manage for my writing.
Google today rolled out a major change to their search that they are calling Google Instant. This change will begin to populate search results as soon as you begin typing, using your history combined with the information that Google has about word frequency and popularity to predict what you’re looking for. This will be rolling out across the world over the next few months, but you can test it now by visiting this page.
Google is rolling out a new feature to Gmail this week they are calling Priority Inbox. It’s an automated method for ranking and determining which emails in your inbox are important to you, and thus float to the top and are marked, while less important ones aren’t given prominence in the email window. It uses your email history (who you read, didn’t read, responded to, etc.) as measures, and allows you to manually rank as well to increase its filters.
Think of it like an inverse spam filter. Instead of filtering out the bad stuff, it filters up the good stuff!
No, I’m not talking about Android phones…I’m talking about the new feature in Gmail Chat that allows you to make Domestic U.S. and Canadian phone calls for free with your Google account.
Simply hit the “Call Phone” button in gChat, and a familiar number pad pops up. Dial, hit Call, and Google will connect you, for free. How much easier could this get?
Bonus: if you have a Google Voice account, you can even receive calls via gChat! Follow the instructions on this support page to link the two, and you can have your gMail account alert you whenever anyone calls.
To my knowledge, this is the only way that you can both send and receive phone calls in the U.S. with no connection at all to a phone carrier for free. You can use a service like Skype, but Skype calls to a landline phone have a cost associated with them.
I did a quick test of the service today, and the quality of the calls is very good. Now if Google will make this service Facetime compatible, it could be a serious competitor to Skype on the video call front.