One of the top stories in the tech blogosphere today: Google is planning to send to a select group of guinea pigs a netbook computer powered by its Chrome operating system.
Seventeen months ago Google announced it would build a lightweight OS based on its Chrome browser as an alternative to machines powered by Windows and the Mac OS. With the Chrome OS, the Internet is essentially the operating system, and all apps will be Web-based.
You can apply to be one of the testers of the Cr-48. No word yet on when we’ll see Chrome netbooks for sale.
Features of the Cr-48 include:
-Full size keyboard
-3G chip for Verizon data in the US, your carrier of choice internationally
-802.11n dual-band WiFi
-8+ hours of active use, 8+ days of standby
News Cut just conducted a Web-based chat on a Chrome browser with Houston Chronicle tech expert Dwight Silverman. Here’s a transcript:
News Cut: Why should we care about the Cr-48?
Silverman: It’s just one more attempt to create what techies have been wanting for years: A network computer. Only this time, it’s got the King of Clouds behind it: Google. So, it may actually succeed where others have failed. The problem has been both one of available bandwidth and “real user” apathy. Techies love the idea. Real people may or may not.
News Cut: Cr-48, eh? What a poetic name.
Silverman: Cr is the atomic symbol for Chromium. Google calls its browser and this operating system Chrome. Chromium is the open-source version of both. Hey, it reminds me of Sony’s naming convention, only with fewer letters & numbers.
News Cut: It’s a stinky name. I don’t care what you say. The pictures I’ve seen make it look as bland as its name, too. Why not a sexier design?
Silverman: It’s a prototype, not really designed for commercial marketing. Eventually, you’ll be able to buy Chrome OS netbooks from companies like Samsung and Acer, and those will be sexier. Hopefully. This really is a trial product. Google’s getting the basic design into users’ hands and asking, “What do you think?” It could end up being different if the feedback warrants changes.
News Cut: What will a Chrome-based netbook have going for it that I cannot get anywhere else? What is its reason for being, ultimately?
Silverman: If you’re a heavy user of Google products, it should make it easier to access them. It will have built-in support for Google Docs, Gmail and a lot of Web apps being designed for it. These mostly live in the cloud, along with your data. There’s not much storage on it and you’ll work primarily when you’re connected – which, with 3G connectivity from Verizon, could be all the time. But there’s a downside to that, too. You really will need to be online to access your data. You probably can work offline to a certain extent, but it will be heavily reliant on Internet access. That may not sit well with a lot of people.
News Cut: Final question: On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your lust factor?
Silverman: I don’t know that this invokes lust. More curiosity, I think. I don’t know if I can compute in the cloud all the time – I like having native apps, they’re far more powerful. I like the relative security of having control of my own data. But I’m open to new ways of doing things, so I’ll give it a try . . . that is, if I’m picked as one of the applicants to receive this.