Recently, Google unveiled the Cr-48 in the Chrome event, a netbook that is intended as the testbed for Chrome OS. The system uses a 12” display and intended for early users who are willing to use the Chrome OS Beta. Its design touches are unique, it includes a trackpad which is similar to the one that is found in Apple Macbooks and a full-sized keyboard, which omits some common keys, such as function keys and caps lock.
The netbook uses 3G technology as its primary Internet connection. The Qualcomm Gobi modem is integrated into the Cr-48 and will also be used on upcoming Chrome laptops to access Verizon’s 3G network by default. It includes 100 MB of “free” data and users can choose whether they want to start or stop the data access at will.
Hacking is highly encouraged by Google and although Chrome OS is shipped as locked, you can use the switch located near the battery to stop the usual boot up procedure and allow you make some modifications.
The system is powered by an Intel Atom processor and features a webcam and Wi-Fi (802.11n). Its battery can last for about eight hours when used continuously and one week during standby. The type of storage has not been revealed, but it is likely a SSD to better accommodate Google’s quick boot feature.
Chrome OS offers these features:
- Same experience everywhere, all documents, application and settings will be stored entirely in the cloud.
- Instant web, Chrome OS allows ten seconds boot up and can resume from sleep almost immediately. Internet sites will run smoothly and faster. The OS will support latest standards, such as HTML5 as well as Adobe Flash.
- Always connected, smooth Wi-Fi connection at work and at home, while 3G connection ensures high speed Internet access in many places.
- Built-in security, the OS employs advanced technology and methods to prevent viruses and malware from harming the users. In addition, non-Windows OSs are inherently safer due to less exposure.
- Automatic update, Chrome laptops can regularly update itself without user intervention.
- Third-party apps, millions of web apps are available for Chrome laptops, from photo editors to spreadsheets to games.
The Cr-48 is initially available for Google employees and those who join the Pilot Program. Media that attended the Chrome event could get the review model, but early common users must either qualify through a submission form or joining a video contest on www.youtube.com/googlechrome to say why they deserve an early unit.
Unfortunately, Google announced that it has postponed the commercial release. It also revealed some features, for example, cloud printing and using USB flash drive as mass storage. Samsung and Acer are committed to launch Chrome OS, but will not ship their netbooks until spring 2011, which is already one year late. ARM must also wait for future developments, but the platform is not locked to x86.
Google is entering the same space that is occupied by Apple and Microsoft. Windows still has the domination in ultra-light computing with its Windows-powered netbooks, and Apple already released the iPad and at October 2010, the 11″ MacBook Air. Google hopes that its web-optimized OS will win the heart of many Internet users.