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Google Cr-48 Netbook Review

The Chrome OS is a cloud service that is expected to be released in a few months. Now, Google has started a pilot program and it has decided to offer its own prototype netbook, the Chrome Cr-48 to the specially chosen candidates such as users, the Google’s employees as well as journalists. The C-48 in the name of the product indicates the element Chromium 48. This 12.1 inch netbook is not for commercial sale and it only offers a preview of what might be expected from the very first system using the Chrome OS.  It is announced to be launched in the middle of the year 2011.

Specifications

  • Operating System: Chrome OS
  • Processor: 1.66 GHz Intel Atom N455
  • Chipset: Intel CG82NM10 PCH
  • Memory: 2GB DDR3 RAM, Flash ROM
  • SSD Drive: SanDisk 16GB SATA SSD
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G
  • Battery: 6 hours of life time

Design

The design of the Cr-48 is quite similar to the other laptops, but still it is better than the netbooks that are made of plastic. The exterior including the underside of the netbook is made out of a matte black plastic material that is soft and rubber like to feel. It has a split spot in order to insert the finger and lift the screen lid. It also has a sunken hinge for the screen. These features make it look resemble the old black colored Macbook. The design and the feel of the netbook is quite impressive though not the best. The Cr-48 is claimed by Google to weigh around 3.6 pounds but it actually seems to be too heavy for its size. Contrast to the weight, the thickness of the netbook is only 0.9 inches despite of the battery on the bottom of the chassis. The netbook houses the VGA socket on the left side while it houses the micro SD card slot, the 3.5 mm headphone jack and the USB port on the right side.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The Cr-48 makes use of a Chiclet keyboard. The keys of the keyboard have a good rubbery like coating that is soft and nice to feel when typing. The layout of the keyboard is quite different when compared with the other netbooks. The Google has made some changes to the traditional keyboard layout. The Caps lock is sacrificed for the search key. It has foregone the function keys and then removed the Windows key. Instead it has employed wide keys for the Alt and the Ctrl keys. An option is available in order to change the search key back to the Caps lock. On the top row, there are keys for the back, refresh and forward functions. These are quite useful for the browser based operating system.

Google uses the older version of the Synaptics ClickPad in the Cr-48. The touch pad is quite regular with the mouse buttons. The experience with the touch pad is not the best but still it does offer a decent navigating experience. The surface of the touch pad is responsive enough to register the navigation with a single finger or with a two fingers in scrolling through a webpage. These are good provided the users do not use it like a mouse button. This action might make the pad either inactive or hyper active. The new versions of the touch pad would help in correcting this issue.

Screen

The Cr-48 sports a 12.1 inch display. This matte display has a resolution of about 1280 x 800 pixels. This is slightly annoying as it lacks behind the other laptops with 11.6 inches or 12 inches with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. But this display manages to display ample information. It does not make us feel cramped when browsing as in the traditional 13.3 inch laptops. The screen appears to be slightly darker and it has passable viewing angles. The blacks can be blown out by viewing the display an angle that is lower than the optimal one.

Setup

The initial setup process takes a very short time. The first thing that has to be done after turning on the Cr-48 is to configure the connection to the internet. This is done by selecting a Wi-Fi network. Then the users have to agree to the EULA of Google which is followed by logging in to using a Google account. There is an option to take a photo and use it also for the login purpose.

Chrome OS

There is no desktop, dock, start button or task bar in the Chrome OS. The Chrome browser opens instantly with a list of installed web based applications. This browser also has the Chrome extensions and a couple of menus listing the Most visited sites and the recently closed sites. The default applications that are loaded are the Entanglement, Get Started, Poppit, YouTube, Google Talk, Gmail, Google Maps and Web Store. These are just extensions to the web pages. The top right corner of the screen has the wireless bars, clock and the battery status. The theme can be downloaded from the Google web store. There is no way to resize the windows as there is no desktop. The browsers cannot be viewed sideways too.

Performance

The performance of the Cr-48 is quite sufficient for the browsing and switching of tabs. It weak when carrying out tasks that consume more power like video playback. The videso taken by the webcam appear choppy and the audio is degraded. The flash plug-ins crash frequently and the YouTube videos of 480 pixels and greater resolutions struggle to play. Adobe is expected to introduce a new Flash version for the Chrome OS in order to improve the performance. The quality of sound emitter from the internal speaker is quite decent. The battery of the Cr-48 provides a life of about 6 hours to the netbook.

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