I was one of the lucky few who received a Google Chrome notebook computer known as the Cr-48 for beta testing. The computers were sent free from Google. I received mine in December 2010. Since that time I have used the pint sized laptop extensively and have taken it on several trips during the past few months. Compared to my 17″ laptop that serves as my main system, the Cr-48 has several advantages, such as light weight and 3G connectivity via Verizon. Google included a free Verizon account for everyone who tested the computer with a 100MB limit for two years.
I have written a half-dozen articles about the Cr-48, sharing my likes and dislikes of the test unit. My overall opinion is that I like the computer and the Chrome operating system. Yes, it is basically the Chrome browser with some added features, including instant boot, which is amazing, and the ability to quickly surf the Web. Over at the Google forum there was a general consensus that any future Chrome OS computers, when introduced to the market place, should be priced in the under $300 range. Most of us felt that a $250 price was reasonable and would ensure the success of the future Cr-48 models.
Today we learned that both Acer and Samsung will offer Chromebook models in the $349 to $499 price range. The least expensive Acer Chromebook model will be priced at $349, available on June 15, 2011 through Amazon and Best Buy. I went to the Amazon Web site and found an Acer Aspire AS5253-BZ602 laptop system, with 15.6 LED screen, 250 GB hard disk, 2GB of memory, DVD recorder, and wireless connection on sale for $349.
Now this I believe is where the problem is going to be. Why would I want to buy a Chromebook when I can get a full sized laptop for the same price? I have used both the Cr-48 and a full sized notebook and they are very different in form and function. Having instant on is great compared to waiting for Windows 7 to boot. I am a fan of cloud storage as long as it functions properly. But what happens when thousands of folks start using Google Docs all at once? Will the servers be able to handle the load?
These and other questions need to be answered before we can determine how good and reliable a Chromebook will be.