Google Chromebook misses the mark

Google has launched a new cloud based computer called the Chromebook that relies on Google services hosted on the Internet.  But based on Google’s specifications for the device, it seems that Google’s new product misses the mark.

If Google had launched an 11.3″ LCD Android device with a keyboard, 12+ hours of battery life during 720P video playback (using ARM processor) via SDHC storage, and the device can go into deep idle (not sleep) for days, Google might have been onto something.  Instead they give us the worst of all worlds in a device with an aging Intel Atom processor (found in Windows Netbooks) that can only play videos for 5 hours.  It has no hard drive, no Windows 7 license, and it costs $100 more than the typical Windows Netbook.

Paying $100 more for a Netbook without the typical 160 GBs of hard drive storage doesn’t make sense.  The hard drive is very useful for music and video files and still works when there is no Internet connection, not to mention that the hard drive operates at 500 Mbps read speeds.  The only thing more misguided was the crippled $700 Netbook circa 2009.

Update – the Chromebook products being released by Samsung and Acer are based on the newly released Intel Atom N570 dual-core processor.  The problem is that this is based on the older “Pineview” platform with GMA 3150 graphics build into the N570 CPU die which isn’t the strongest graphics performer, and the 8.5 watt TDP of the N570 processor means poor battery life (by tablet standards).  If this was the Intel Z670 “Oaktrail” processor with a 3W TDP and 1080P H.264 video decode capability, that would have been a far more compelling product.  But Chromebooks have no need for legacy Intel x86 PCI compatibility or even x86 compatibility so it would have been even better to use a processor like Intel Moorestown or non-Intel ARM based processors.  That would result in a much lighter product (due to a smaller battery) with far more battery life.

  • Rob Colburn

    I agree with you, that the specs are weak and the price is too high. However, there is something to it. I’m using on of the pilot “cr-48” devices, it’s “zippier” than a netbook, and it’s light. It’s not quite tablet light, but it’s close. It starts in a few seconds, rarely hangs on me. I think many analysts are making the mistake to compare it with a traditional laptop (I’ll give you that it’s priced that way). It’s more of a “surfing device”, like a tablet, but for those of us who like a keyboard. I do find it wanting for certain applications, but I find myself saying “I wish Web App X did this” rather than, “Ugh, I want to use my real computer now”

  • George Ou

    The CR-48 is zippier than a crapware filled Netbook or high performance desktop. It is not faster than a freshly installed Netbook, Notebook, or Desktop or a PC that had all the junk removed.

    I do understand the point of a Chromebook but like I said, Google’s mistake is not putting a keyboard on a super light 10+ hour Android device.

  • matt

    I sort of agree with you, but I think the plan (or hope) is to move everybody to a world where free WiFi is everywhere in abundance and you don’t even have to log in to a certain network or ISP??

    something ideal/optimistic like that.

  • George Ou

    Who pays for the free Wi-Fi Matt? What happens when you don’t have Wi-Fi? What happens when your file is 200 MB? What happens when you shoot a 1080P video with your smartphone and end up with a 2 GB file?

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