Cr-48 Chrome Notebook Review

I got the cr-48 Google Chrome OS notebook on Monday, two weeks after I saw the 'Test drive a cr-48’ notice in Chrome.

tl;dr review: The Cr-48 is great for web apps. Slick. Flash, JavaScript render really fast. Boots up in < 3s. Wakes up in an instant. Very light-weight.

Speed

The web seems snappier on my notebook. JavaScript and Flash render faster than on my laptop (which has a 2GHz 64-bit processor and 3GB RAM). The cr-48 notebook plays HD YouTube videos really well. HD videos do not break up like they do on my laptop sometimes.

Battery life

The battery lasts for over 8 hours of usage. I play YouTube videos, last.fm songs etc and still the battery lasts for at least 8 hours at a time. The battery does not lose much power on standby. I use it for 2 days without charging 4 hours per day.

Usage

The chrome notebook just has a browser and a terminal in normal mode. So the notebook is intended for usage of web-apps only. There are some chrome notebook specific web apps in the chrome web store like G-Talk. You can not install any other applications. But it’s alright. Most of the apps I use are web apps anyways.

The cr-48 has a built-in camera and microphone. The camera resolution is alright but the video quality is clear. I could make video calls through Gmail. I found the G-Talk app to be really useful. The G-Talk pop-up can stay over any tab or even the terminal. Also if you minimize it, it hides completely but gives sound alerts.

Some cool web apps for chrome are NYTimes, Springpad

For coding

I found the cr-48 usable for development purposes with limitations. You have to SSH to a machine to code. CTRL+ALT+T pulls up the terminal. You switch between browser and terminal using ALT-TAB. The terminal provides a password-based SSH client. You cannot use private/public keys yet.

One bug in the SSH program is that it does not accept the SSH escape sequence yet (~ CTRL-z). This bug is especially annoying when you suspend the notebook while running SSH. The terminal will hangup and won’t let you exit. It will exit on SSH timeout which takes 5-10 minutes.

Another limitation is that there are no Home and End keys. So it you have to get used to this unless you already use some other combination in your text editor.

Design

The buttons on the keyboard are all in lower case! And as you must have heard, the keyboard doesn’t have the caps-lock key. The body is all black. There is no logo or even Google’s name on it.

Chrome notebook (cr-48)

In summary, Cr-48 is definitely better for browsing the web than the chrome my laptop.

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