• dunivan

    im very pumped to potentially get to try this out. I’m guessing theres no way to store files locally, can you confirm this?

  • http://techie-buzz.com keithdsouza

    Quite a review, I guess it is going to be a hard time for users to get over the desktop mentality. Of course it would be good if Chrome does local storage and also recognizes external drives and phone.

    When Google expects us to use this as a device of the future, it definitely misses on the point that we require mobile connectivity, bluetooth et all.

    From what I can say this is a OK start, not anything extra-ordinary, but hopefully things should improve before the actual OS becomes available to general public.

    P.S. BTW the Dell XPS 1645 monitors are awesome.

  • dunivan

    @keithdsousa maybe pilot program members will have a bit of an upgraded version of the cr-48 then what is being used in this review as well?

  • http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com Mike Vaz

    The lack of ports and various hardware recognition is kind of a bummer. Glad to hear that it takes an external mouse still. That’s something I couldn’t live without.

  • jeffbanks

    Considering this is a preview version of what Chrome OS is going to be, the idea is good. Remember this is cloud based computing. You have 3 options: Go cloud, do hybrid computing with cloud and local storage, or go local storage. The old desktop mentality will melt away over time as these things improve. Review what the OS can do, not the limitations of a cheap, preview based notebook can do.

  • http://www.simonserrano.com Simon Serrano

    for those that didn’t see the live Google announcement of this…

    There is NO local hard drive (that’s accessible) on the Cr-48. You’re supposed to store all of your files in the cloud… (ie on Google’s servers or some other cloud based storage solution like Dropbox or box.net).

    If there’s no internal hard drive then it’s not going to be possible to store anything locally or use local storage…. at least not at this point in time.

    Additionally, I don’t think Google meant for people to be able to test peripherals or other external equipment. I think it’s just meant to test the software itself in casual use. I’m sure that final versions of Chrome OS will allow for peripherals, bluetooth, usb, vga, hdmi, etc.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alex.popowitz Flame S Blade

    task manager is probably shift+esc that is waht it is for the chrome task manager normaly normally

  • http://www.seanlind.com/ Sean Lind

    I don’t mean to harp on you Danny, but again I think you missed the point on this notebook.

    Like jeffbanks was saying, Chrome OS is a cloud-based computing option. Windows, OSX… these are local options. They’re completely different concepts. The fact that you’re calling it a negative, or are surprised that your external drives don’t work, mean you clearly don’t understand the concept of cloud computing.

    The whole idea is based on nothing being stored locally. Not somethings, nothing. It was NEVER supposed to work with external hard-drives… that’s the entire point.

    External monitors? This is a cloud-computing based netbook. If you want to be parked at a desk, use a desktop.

    Finally, all your tests which have failed are based on you trying to do things created for local computing on the cloud. You’re missing the whole point. The vast majority of all hardware will not work on Chrome OS, simply because that hardware was designed for local-based computing. These things were never supposed to work together… I’m not sure why you’re surprised that they don’t now.

  • http://www.michael-martinez.com/ Michael Martinez

    I think I’ll wait for the Cr-100.

    Thanks for going through all that pain and agony for our sakes.

  • matthew taylor

    Sean, seriously just read what you have written… surely cloud based OS is still some way off yet and this proves it, surely only the biggest google fan boy would consider limiting their abilities so much, You keep saying this is about “cloud computing” but as the article points out, most typical use cases for a notebook are not possible. surely this article identifies that for most typical users this is just a niche device, and a very limited one as well. Saying that “this is a cloud computing based netbook” doesnt actually address any of the commentary in the main article. Because what you are implying is cloud based computing is not very useful to most people.

  • http://megatrond.com trondw

    You can route video out over the VGA port by pressing Ctrl-Full Screen. Also, a few other ways to do things that could help you as well:

    Ctrl-Switch Window takes a screenshot
    Ctrl-O opens the content browser where you can see saved screenshots

    Chrome Team Member

  • augi

    Google chrome app for New York Times is stale dead on Acer nav 50 netbook; although my imported bookmark works NYT site beautifully. Hope that Chrome netbook can use chrome browser apps.

  • http://www.seanlind.com/ Sean Lind

    Matthew Taylor,

    Again, you’re missing the entire point of the device. This is like someone buying an iPad and then complaining that they couldn’t plug their external hard drive into it. It was never the point.

    I know it’s hard to stop thinking about computing as local-storage based, as that’s how it’s always been. This is something new. If you want a computer that’s going to do everything you currently do, exactly as you currently do it, then use the computer you already own.

    If you’re looking for something new, a computer that you never have to back up, that is “synced” no matter where you are, or what computer you’re on, and if just about everything you do is on the web, then this might be for you.

    It’s not Chrome vs. OSX vs. W7, it’s something completely different. If you keep trying to compare it to local-based OS’s you’ll always be disappointed.

    As for your comment “a cloud based OS is some way off yet”, that’s completely false, it’s here… this is one. The problem is not the machine, it’s your perception of computing. Everything you use to define computing this doesn’t do, or does differently.

  • matthew taylor


    i get the point but based upon the evidence so far, is this thing actually of any use? or is it just a way of charging someone for a web browser? at least the ipad has storage where it matters for most use cases.. photos, email, and documents they are the things the i want to access wherever i am. im sure in the realms of academia, always on internet access is a given, in the real world however its a different matter there isnt a million miles of difference between an ipad but where it really matters, they are a lot different.

  • http://www.seanlind.com/ Sean Lind


    You still don’t get it. Photos, email, documents… you store them all online, specifically for the reason that you will always access all of them, wherever you are. The only thing you need is internet access.

    ChromeOS has never, and never (well, maybe not never) will be marketed towards serious computer power-users. It’s marketed to the netbook crowd, NOT the notebook crowd.

    It’s for people who want email, internet, music, photos, youtube and never want to worry about updates, patches, or anything like that. The majority of computer users don’t need anything more than this. This is the market this was designed for.

    Google is a search engine, they see the world as always being connected online, in that world local storage is redundant and useless. If you need to use your computer offline, this isn’t for you. But that doesn’t mean it’s a useless product.

  • http://twylah.com/Mista_Mixon Mista Mixon

    Interesting. I have applied for the beta test. I am an avid Ubuntu Linux user. I have been using JoliCloud, which is a cloud based OS, based on linux. I use it on a dell 10v netbook and have actually become quite happy using a cloud OS.

  • http://daggle.com/ Danny Sullivan

    dunivan, you can save files locally, but it’s not easy. Google really sees storing files as a temporary thing until you upload to the cloud. I’ll have more on this in a follow-up piece tomorrow, from talking to them about it.

    Mike Vaz, I’m sure the versions shipped for consumers will be far more robust in terms of ports and so on.

    Jeffbanks, the OS can do what any computer you have now can do, let you go to the web and do things. There’s nothing special or magical. There’s nothing this can do that a Mac or PC running Chrome can do — and a lot less. One key exception is the security. If you believe Google, this is going to be a very secure operating system. But honestly, anyone who wants to try this now could get any laptop, run Chrome and only Chrome, and you’re kind of set.

    Sean, I wasn’t surprised my hard drives didn’t work. I actually said the opposite, that I did NOT expect them to work. I was actually surprised that my mouse DID work, because there are so few drivers out there.

    I haven’t used a desktop computer for about three years now. My laptop has been fine — and works great with external monitors. They increase productivity. Apparently, Google agrees. I mean, any time I’m in a Google office, I’ll see employees everywhere using laptops with one if not two external monitors. It’s common. They use laptops and external monitors together, as do many people. And they do that while accessing the cloud.

    All my tests didn’t fail, by the way. I was able to access any number of web-based applications just fine. I was curious about whether I could use this machine instantly, out of the box, as replacement for my regular laptop. Answer — no, not right now.

    I use multiple monitors too much to give them up on a daily basis. I need to read something on one, write something on another and perhaps test on a third. With this laptop, not only couldn’t I run those monitors — I can’t even set two pages side-by-side.

    Doing a screenshot, and editing it, was harder than using some software alternatives out there. Not impossible. It’ll get better. But it was harder.

    Getting a picture off my phone into the computer? Right now, firing it through a 3G network into the cloud and back down through my internet provider to my laptop sitting less than a foot away from the phone seems suboptimal.

    These things will get better. For people with other use cases, this might even seem a perfect machine them of the box. That’s especially so if you already pretty much live in the cloud. And I’m pretty sure I’ve said that in this piece, as well.

  • shively

    Okay, that is one thorough review. Thanks.

    I requested mine yesterday, but now I’m second guessing the decision. While my initial thought was that I was primarily a cloud user, I can see how this computer is probably a few years ahead of my time. (Initially groomed on WATFIV and Hollerith cards, it makes sense.)

    This computer is not meant as an adjunct for your primary computer – it is meant to be your primary computer, especially for the trial period. For those arguing in the comment section, you can apply yourself to receive one of the computers. Just by reading the questions Google asks, you will get a feel as to who they may be ‘marketing’ this OS to.


  • tod

    They should call this Google Wave v2.0b.

    Come on guys, let’s be honest with ourselves. This isn’t a paradigm shift, it’s a company trying to force some ill-conceived vision on billions of people.

    And you can’t compare it to an iPad because it’s the size of a notebook.

    Danny: so you want us to pretend it’s a NETbook, even though it’s the size of a NOTEbook, and even though it can’t do a fraction of what a lowly NETbook can do? Righttttt…

  • http://www.jamezelle.com James Lichtenstiger

    I hope chromeOS merges with some of the principles of android.

  • http://entelektas.posterous.com Karolis

    It is very strange that you got a full UNIX file system browser when you clicked “Add Image” on WordPress. I think this will not be available in the final release of Chrome OS. In my opinion this will look something like this: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/170484/file_browser.jpg

    This can be called the cloud file browser.

    Yeah, I have also added Dropbox to this image, because I think that Google must do the ability to integrate third party Cloud file systems in the Chrome cloud file browser (for example by using Googlle Chrome extensions).

    You said you haven’t found a normal file browser. I think there is no need for that. They have Google Docs and Picasa which can be a file browsers too. Google just need to fully integrate cloud file browser in Chrome (as in my image). So whenever I need to browse for a file, Google Chrome must open a well integrated cloud file browser.

    And when I use built-in screenshot maker then the screenshot automatically must be saved into Picasa (not the local computer). Of course Picasa and Google Docs must be synchronized with the computer so that I can access files when I am offline.

    This is my vision, but I want to see Chrome in that way.

    By the way, you haven’t tried if it is possible to use that computer offline. I mean that in theory Gmail and Google Docs work offline.

  • http://arunshroff.com Arun Shroff

    This is a great in-depth review and walk-thru of the Cr-48 that conveys very well the pain and frustration of trying to do what Google claims or at least hopes this device can do : replace your main computer for daily work. Sort of reminded me of the early days of the PC era and before plug and play device standards. As of right now, it does look like Google has some way to go before Cr-48 is ready for the mass market.

    While Google may well solve most of the hardware and many of the software problems before launch – there are two key challenges, The first one is to change people’s habits. Habits built over decades of PC, Mac and yes legacy software usage. Simple things like local file storage and carrying your entire music and photo collection around in a portable hard drive or USB drive. You take it for granted until you realize it is not an option.

    The second challenge will be price and competing with notebooks/netbooks (not to mention tablets). If think about it – you can do everything a Cr-48 can do plus more using a $200 netbook All you need to do is to fire up the Chrome browser on it and you can run the same web applications as the Cr-48 . Plus install local programs and use your local storage to your hearts content. And if you only want to live in the cloud you can do that too – just use a service like Dropbox or similar. So unless the Cr-48 can be much cheaper or offer a lot more – maybe a killer application that only runs on it, it will be a hard sell.

    The other big benefit claimed is zero admin and maintenance costs, and no vriuses – as everything is updated via the web (no DLL hell) . Yes that is a big benefit -but a constantly connected device to the internet with all your data in the cloud introduces an entirely new set of challenges with hacking, privacy of data and security.

  • John Howell

    Danny, Thanks for this review. It really gave me the ‘feel’ of the experience. I’m curious about ChromeOS’ suitability for web-based ERP and CRM type applications like Salesforce, Netsuite, Acumatica. The potential for high security, fast javascript performance, and low TCO are (at least on the surface) quite compelling.

  • DP

    I Like the idea. There needs to be a lot of work done.

    My only question is how would you program like this?

    Maybe the paradigm will shift when these computers come out but I see it really tough to do things that are not local on your computer. I know for java you could just put your jar files in the cloud and have it run it. But what about any other language that compiles like ASP.NET. I know Google does not care about them but for me that is one limiting factor. Anything that takes considerable CPU you don’t want to have all information transferred there and back via the internet every time. Just seems too slow to be worth it. Or I could just be thinking of it in the old school terms.

    Not sure yet at this point. But I am open for anything new.

  • http://www.anitgenius.com Jason Ryberg

    I figured out how to replace the owner profile picture on the Cr-48: http://anitgenius.com/how-to-replace-your-crappy-profile-picture-on-your-cr-48

  • http://daggle.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Tod, I didn’t ask you to pretend it was a netbook. In fact, I explained the opposite — that Google initially suggest this would be a netbook replacement but instead is now positioning it as a replacement for any full-featured notebook.

    Karolis, Google views that dialog screen that an application provides as one of the primary ways to access files on your computer, files that in the end, it views as being there only temporarily until uploaded into the cloud. I have a follow-up interview coming out later today with more on this. I’ll add a link to that to the end of this article, when it’s ready.

    And no, I haven’t yet tried how well Gmail and Google Docs work offline. I’ve used Gmail offline before on other computers, however. That tends to be OK.

    Jason, thanks!

  • djkurtz

    Thanks for giving such a detailed review.

    Maybe this will help get you a span-2-month ‘4 week’ view in Google Calendar:
    1) Calendar Settings -> General -> Custom View = “4 Weeks”
    2) In Calendar, click on the new “4 Weeks” button, upper right

    By the way:
    Microsoft has had OWA for years (formerly Outlook Web Access (OWA), now rebranded as “Outlook Web App” – but still OWA): http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/access-your-e-mail-using-outlook-web-access-HA001086035.aspx

  • http://iheartubuntu.com i [heart] ubuntu

    Based on your screenshot of the hard drive data, looks exactly like Ubuntu. :) Which I have used for 4 years now. Correct me if Im wrong, but isnt ChromeOS built upon a debian base? I’d love to get one of these and test it out! Great review, thanks.

  • http://goo.gl/ttSYA 생활 부활한 자로

    Do you want access to my Citrix Receiver account? It can bust out Word, the entire CS5 suite, etc. all at a blink of an eye. Especially on that chrome notebook of yours.

  • http://cre8or.livejournal.com Nikita Kostylev

    >> my external hard drives weren’t recognized.

    Under the Settings > Labs you’ll find support for experimental features as “advanced file systems” and media player.

  • http://cre8or.livejournal.com Nikita Kostylev

    Sorry, they are supposed to be here

  • Gio Ciampa

    If the OS on the Cr-48 is the same as that on the one I downloaded from http://getchrome.eu/download.php – it’s based on SuSE Linux (YaST is the system configuration system for example), presumably switably tweaked to be net-centric rather than rely on the local device.

  • http://singularityconcepts.com existdissolve

    iTunes needs to go to the cloud. It’s stupid that music which is used on so many portable devices is still machine bound. Once that happens, the old paradigm of personal computers will die forever.

  • Bubba Dot Bubba

    Seems like a number of folks have chosen to ding you for “missing the point.” I don’t necessarily see this as a valid critique. One of the things to be learned in this beta is whether the “point” itself is good or at least viable–apart from the execution, which is bound to be a continually moving target.

    Personally, I don’t see anyone profiting from this except for Google and those who will make money providing workarounds for various foibles, glitches and gotchas. Otherwise it seems like a wonderful idea.

  • http://justinpaine.com Justin P

    I must say, I found this “review” to be a joke. It’s clear that you didn’t even bother to do any research before finding fault with a product that is labeled as still in a “pilot program”. It’s not ready. They said that, so don’t review it or treat it like it’s a final product. Do a tiny bit of research before complaining that you can’t do something. Just because you’re too lazy to learn doesn’t mean that something is broken. Your critique about not having an ability to run iTunes for your precious iPhone shows your sad Apple-centric world. Get over yourself, and your iPhone. This is a new platform. God forbid Apple get off its butt and build a modern version of iTunes (such as the fabled cloud iTunes that would solve this issue). Perhaps in the future any company (besides Apple of course) should not bother sending you early products because you’re going to ignorantly treat them as a mature product instead.

    I don’t usually read Danny Sullivan, but after this I can guarantee you I’ll not being making that mistake again in the future.