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Chrome OS, Notebook and Web Store Unveiled

David Gilbert by

Google Unveils Cr-48 As Pilot Chrome Notebook

We should warn people at the beginning that what follows is more Google-related news. Yes, we know you’ve had the Gingerbread, Nexus S and Honeycomb news already this week but it seems as if there is no end to its announcements.

Via a web-cast last night, Google revealed for the first time it first Chrome Os-powered notebook which will be called the Cr-48 (something to do with a molecule of Chromium we believe). While a lot had been known about this notebook prior to launch it was nice to finally see it in the flesh. Don’t get too excited however as this device will “exist only to test the software” and only a lucky few will get their mitts on it. If you think you would be a suitable guinea pig for the new device then just sign up for the Chrome OS Pilot Program. We believe there will be 60,000 notebooks shipped by manufacturer Inventec initially with more possibly to come.

The 12.1in notebook has no branding and is not-for-sale to the wider public. It will have (according to Google), eight hours of battery life and eight days of standby time as well as integrated 3G from Verizon. The notebook will have flash storage, an over-sized clickpad and a full keyboard though without any function keys. Also the Caps Lock key has been replaced by a search button.

“Chrome notebooks are designed to reach the web instantly, are easy to share among friends and family, and simply by logging in, all of your apps, bookmarks and other browser settings are there. Setting up a new machine takes less than a minute. And even at this early stage, we feel there is no consumer or business operating system that is more secure,” a statement from Google read.

Acer and Samsung have been revealed as the companies who will first bring Chrome OS notebooks to the consumer market in the middle of 2011 with more manufacturers to follow. The blog post from Google also mentioned that Chrome OS is “designed to work across a wide range of screen sizes and form factors, enabling our partners to deliver computing devices beyond notebooks” – which could mean we will be seeing a Google tablet very soon.

In other news announced last night Google announced the launch of its Chrome Web Store which is open for business today but only in the US with promises of other areas getting access to the online app store in the coming months.

As regards the browser that started it all, Chrome has also been improved. With over 120 million people using Chrome according to Google, they have brought Google Instant to the Omnibox, showing search results and loading web pages as you type. They have also overhauled Chrome’s JavaScript engine, V8, claiming it now runs twice as fast as before. These two features are available in Chrome’s early access channels and will be rolling out to everyone soon.

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December 8, 2010, 6:47 pm

Google will only ship the Chrome notebook to test pilots in the US. :(

Nathan March

December 8, 2010, 7:02 pm

Nothing to do with technology, but had a gander round wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I... and Cr-48 is an apparently unremarkable isotope of chromium (not a molecule I'm afraid, but I don't want to be picky). There are lower-weight isotopes e.g. Cr-42, but if I put myself in the mind of a Google engineer - disregarding the feeling of absolute power - the pleasant symmetry of Cr-48 is as good a reason as any I suppose; Cr-48 is the only isotope of chromium that has the same number of protons as neutrons (24).

I would hazard the next laptop would be designated Cr-52. Being the most abundant isotope it might reflect the proliferation that Google hopes for.

P.S. On the other hand, Cr-48 is unstable and radioactive, with a half-life of a mere 22 hours - I don't what that says about Google's confidence on the device's stability.


December 8, 2010, 10:52 pm

I still don't get Chrome. I can just about get my head around Tablets as secondary easy to take anywhere devices or for really basic users (how many people do you know who just use email, Facebook and browse the web?) their only machine. Android with Honeycomb will provide a decent tablet device (one hopes). So if you are shopping for a computer it's either tablet or PC depending on your need. Chrome is neither one nor other and I just don't see the market.

I think the other big problem for Google is the UI. They have historically been awful, stripped down and basic which is great for tech-heads, but not consumer friendly. Android is only just getting there, how can they expect Chrome to compete with the eye candy of iOS on a tablet or even Windows on a notebook. Sure it may be simple to use, but these days users demand more and if they hope to compete that's one more area they really need to work on.

This could be another failed Google experiment, with the best bits rolled into Android in the future. But perhaps when it comes out I'll think different(© Apple) but right now it just looks like a case of Google fragmentation!


December 8, 2010, 11:24 pm

Wow, I thought hitting Caps Lock by accident was bad enough, but a search button? Madness!

(I've actually removed the Caps Lock key on all my keyboards.)


December 8, 2010, 11:35 pm


Depending on price and performance I'd be extremely interested. If they can get something out for £199 that has 8-10 hour battery life and performs quickly I'd snap it up. It'd obviously only be a 2nd/3rd PC but it would fulfill 90% of my PC usage, i.e. browsing.

I'm not sure if users actually do demand more. If anything iOS has kind of proven that users are happy with limited but easy to use functionality. Oh, and loads of apps!


December 9, 2010, 7:00 am

@rav: come on, for the sake of £50 you'd rather have a Chrome laptop than a Windows 7 one?

Ok yes, instant on and such would be nice, but Win7 wakes up quick enough for all practical purposes and it offers so much more.

I was also just thinking about all the Linux offerings out there, if penny pinching is really so crucial for some people then there's plenty of free OS options.

No, Chrome has to offer more, and unless there's some hidden magical offering in the Cloud then I just don't see how they can sell this to the public. Certainly not at the same time as they try to sell Android tablets. Google (despite the TR article welcoming Google as a hardware manufacturer - which is rubbish as they just provide the software for their partners) can not play both sides. They've got partners proclaiming Android tablets as the future and soon no doubt Acer saying Chrome tablets are the future. Sure there will be some people for both, but mainstream, generally, there can only be the one route.


December 9, 2010, 2:24 pm


But Win 7 isn't going to perform well on £200-£300 hardware. I use Win 7 every day on my laptop and it can sometimes take a few mins to wake up from hibernation.

Having just watched Andy Rubin demo Honeycomb I'm feeling tempted to wait for the proper Android tablets to appear.


December 9, 2010, 4:14 pm

The whole idea of a platform that uses The Cloud as a storage platform will fall flat on its face so long as broadband upload speeds are as lamentable as they currently are. Typically uploads are less that a twentieth of download speeds, rarely reaching more than 1.5Mbs at best. I currently upload important files to on-line storage and it's a very painful process.

Google needs to put its weight behind forcing broadband suppliers to significantly increase upload speeds if it wants this platform to succeed.


December 9, 2010, 5:29 pm

@Ryan: You could also re-map the Caps Lock key. I have mine functioning as a Return key - something that I believe it was originally too.

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