Monday, June 27, 2011

Chromebooks Offer Alternative to Labtops

It is interesting to see how technology prognostications often take longer to come to reality than anyone ever thinks and sometimes they never do come to reality. Back in the dark ages of the personal computer, an executive with IBM was quoted as saying that the world would someday have very few real computers. His vision was that we would all have inexpensive devices that connected us to super computers. His ideas were dismissed by many pundits in the 1980s since the PC was putting awesome computer power on the desktop. When CD Rom discs came out offering inexpensive data storage, it was predicted that everyone would have vast libraries of information in there homes stored on these shinny plastic platters.

Skip ahead to the present. Last week the first of the Google Chromebooks hit the market. These machines that look like a regular lap top computer are the incarnation of the IBM executive’s vision. The have no hard drive, they don’t require Windows or Mac software and are not prone to viruses. They have very good battery life since they are essentially a keyboard, mouse and video screen connected via the Internet to large remote servers. They are the ultimate device for cloud computing.

Unlike a desktop or laptop computer, all of the programs and all of the data files are stored in the cloud. If you should loose your computer or it gets damaged, all of your documents, pictures, videos and music are still available since those files were never actually stored in your machine.

Tasks that once required Windows or Mac operating systems and various programs like Microsoft Office, now can be done using the software available free on the Google web site. Just like your data files, the programs are never really resident in your machine.

The major drawback of using a Chromebook comes if you should loose access to the Internet. Without that connection the Chromebook is nothing more than a three pound paper weight. It can do nothing. You can’t write a paper, look at pictures or play videos.

The folks at Google are betting that since most of us are already doing much of our computing on the Internet, these machines will prove to be more than adequate for the majority of regular users. They point out that most people use their computer to access email, search for information on Google or Wikipedia or watch videos on YouTube or Hulu. These and other similar tasks can be done very well on the Chromebook.

Chromebooks connect to the Internet using wifi or the various 3G or 4G networks. The first of the Chromebooks are being made by Acer and Samsung in partnership with Google. The price is about $500 but the prices should fall quickly as more manufacturers bring versions to market. At this writing they are only available at Best Buy or


Anonymous Ricardo Ang II said...

The Acer AC700 is $349. It's too bad that the cheapest price tag is too steep for what I'd consider a handicapped netbook. A $199 Chromebook would have been more reasonable, IMHO.

12:08 PM  

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