Are Computers Only Paperweights when They Don’t Fulfill the Needs of the User?

Are Computers Only Paperweights when They Don't Fulfill the Needs of the User?Over the course of the last several days I have read a multitude of articles on the Internet claiming that, without an Internet connection, a computer is nothing more than a paperweight. In general, it appears that many of these authors had decided to limit their focus to the new Chromebook series, being marketed by Google, which made me question if all computers should be evaluated using such standards. In considering this, I believe the argument begins when we discuss tablets and smart phones in comparison to the traditional desktop or laptop computer.

In my opinion, trying to compare these devices to each other is ludicrous. It is like comparing a radio to a television wherein both devices provide a form of entertainment but in a completely different way. One must acknowledge that with the use of either of these devices one can stay on top of current events, but the way in which they deliver this content, to the consumer, is completely different. While radio is perfect in some settings, like the office or car, televisions deliver the same audio information but add a visually interesting aspect to the presentation. This comparison is so simple to understand that no one tries to suggest that one is better than the other or to compare them in the same category.

With this in mind, why would anyone want to spend their time trying to dissect and compare traditional computers to the specialized devices that we now find available in the marketplace?

According to the author of an article in the New York Times, the Google Chromebook he tested was basically worthless because it currently requires an Internet connection in order to function. Another person supported this view in their comments by inaccurately stating that you couldn’t listen to music or watch a video without an Internet connection. These comments were apparently submitted by people who have never used either the Cr-48 test computer nor the new Chromebook itself or they would have realized their error as I have put mp3 files onto a USB drive and played the songs effortlessly. However, I do realize that there are still some issues that Google needs to address including how to use its assortment of utilities, such as Google Documents, offline.

Having said that, I believe that each of the newer devices, whether they be Apple’s iPad, Google’s Chromebook, or one of a variety of devices from smart phone companies, will fill a specific need for specific people. However, it is important that they not be compared to each other or to the traditional desktop or laptop computers as each has its limitations. For example, the Apple iPad fills a need for the consumer requiring the ease of portability, Internet connectivity, or for the user wanting to limit their use to playing games. The good news for Apple is that the masses already understand this, which explains why Apple is struggling to meet demand for the popular iPad.

Google Chrome Cr-48 Notebook – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

It has been just about a month since I received my Cr-48 computer and I have nothing new to report. The system for the most part works fine. Yes, there are some glitches and gotchas that Google is going to need to fix, but like any new box, that is to be expected. My experience thus far has been enjoyable for the most part. Here are some of the good, bad and ugly parts of the system.

The Good: If you have used the Chrome browser, than you have used the Chrome OS. The majority of what I do is on the Internet so this notebook is good for me. As long as you have a wireless connection, you are all set to go. In addition Google provides a free 100MB account for two years from Verizon. So no matter where I go, I have a connection.

Battery life is 8 hours as claimed.

The keyboard lacks a Caps Lock key, but this is a minor issue. Overall the keyboard functions well and the keys are just a big as the keys on my 17″ laptop.

The Bad: The only minor issue I have is that my blog runs slow when using the Chrome Notebook. At first I thought it may be my wireless system, but after a few experiments, I determined for some unknown reason, LG is just slow when using the Chrome notebook. I have connected to other wireless systems with the Chrome notebook and have experienced the same problem. All other web sites work just fine and Chrome is fast.

Though the keyboard works well, in dim light it is hard to see the letters on the keys. That’s right boys and girls. I am not a touch typist. :-)

The Ugly: The track pad stinks. I was trying to copy a link yesterday and there was no way I could get the system to recognize a right-click. I recommend connecting a USB mouse to the system to make your experience more enjoyable.

Conclusion: I think there is a market for this type of computer. My concern is price. If Google can get the pricing around $300, I believe it will be a winner. Over $300 I would have to give it a lot of serious thought. You can find inexpensive laptops on sale now for about $350.

Anyone else out there using the Cr-48? Thoughts? Opinions?

Comments welcome.

Google Unveils First Chrome OS Laptop

Yes, it’s true, Google unveils the first Chrome OS laptop. We’ve known for a long time that Google had a Chrome OS laptop in the works. Today the unbranded, model Cr-48, laptop has be unveiled to the public.

Google, initially, will distribute the laptop through the Chrome OS Pilot Program, sort of like a public beta. You will have to apply into the beta and only a limited number of participants will receive this unbranded laptop. But, retail Chrome OS models from Acer and Samsung will be available in the middle of 2011 for the masses.

What users will get:

  • 12.1-inch screen.
  • Full size keyboard.
  • Oversized clickpad.
  • Qualcomm Gobi 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.
  • Webcam.
  • Flash storage.

The keyboard is unique, with no function keys, but a row of Apple-like keyboard actions. Furthermore, the caps lock key has been replaced with a search button. Again, this is a unbranded laptop, the only thing to identify is the model number, the “Cr-48” refers to an isotope of the material chromium, there’s no logo and no design no-nothing on the laptop itself.

Google wants to make it clear that this isn’t a mass market device, with Chrome OS still in young beta stage.