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Data Concerns & Verdict

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

6

Lastly even if you are prepared to pay out for 3G then the breaks in service and erratic speeds you experience will affect Chrome OS more than any other platform. After all you cannot stream music with something like We7 and photo edit using, for example, Picnik without dragging these services to a standstill. This can be struggle enough on a decent broadband connection and makes multitasking on the move tough.

In fact everything consumes bandwidth, so even a game of Chrome’s optimised Angry Birds can kill your music while the poor GPU means it performs with more judder than you’ll find on a modern smartphone in any case. Meanwhile all the time you will also be checking your data consumption over 3G for fear of running up huge bills. This is when being able to cache music offline or natively install games would make a world of difference to Chrome OS and its uncompromising approach is sadly ahead of its time. On the one hand this isn't Google's fault, but on the other it does demonstrate its creators haven't spent a great deal of time in the real world.

This is also the kind of scenario which leads to questions about Chrome OS as a whole. After all Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) has a full screen tabbed Chrome web browser, but it also supports local music and apps with far greater functionality than can be found on the web. Wrap Android 3.0 into a Samsung Chromebook with a better GPU and lower RRP and we could have had something really special.

angled

Verdict

We come back to the question central to the start of this review: how do you use your computer? If you wish solely to consume online content then the beautiful design of the Samsung Chromebook arguably lets you do this with more grace than a tablet or netbook and it has superb battery life. For technophobes it also offers a get up and go solution that is unsurpassed in its simplicity.

The problem is theory does not live up to reality. Even more portable devices like smartphones and tablets use a mix of offline and online functionality to create far more powerful and flexible solutions making Chrome feel unnecessarily limited. Meanwhile the price of Samsung’s Chromebook pushes it towards budget laptop prices at which point you might as well buy one of those, install the Chrome browser on it to enjoy the best of both worlds.

There is huge promise in Chrome OS and Samsung’s Chromebook design only requires tweaking under the hood. As it stands, however, skimping on the Chromebook’s performance and combining that with the rigidly uncompromising vision of Chrome OS creates a fundamentally flawed freak that doesn’t quite fit in anywhere.

Overall Score

6

Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 9
  • Design 8
  • Features 4
  • Performance 5
  • Value 6

ffrankmccaffery

July 9, 2011, 6:12 pm

My X61s Thinkpad weighs almost the and does the a whole lot more - and all without being beholden to Google too.

PoisonJam

July 10, 2011, 6:56 pm

I have an x40 ThinkPad, and while it's a joy to use it's really slow now and takes so long to boot. Since I only use it for browsing the web while I'm watching TV I'd like something that boots up a lot quicker. Unfortunately the price of these combined with the slow browsing performance ruins the appeal. Surely they should be cheaper since they don't need a Windows licence??

TR- you have "Chrome OS impractical outside the home" listed in the Pros column in the reviw summary.

Gordon394

July 11, 2011, 6:53 am

Thanks for that spot PoisonJam, the error was quickly corrected but the site is cached for long periods over the weekend. Hopefully it should show up soon.

Circa £250 with better graphics and Chrome OS has potential, but it is impossible to escape the feeling we have seen a glimpse at the future of computing ahead of its time.

Gordon394

July 11, 2011, 6:54 am

And your X61s cost a lot more new too ;)
The Chrome OS model is the future of computing, just not yet and likely not for a while.

Pbryanw

July 11, 2011, 7:34 am

@Gordon - I expect the price of future Chromebooks will come down to £250 if they prove popular, but I wonder if there's any idealogical reason why Google has decided everything must by stored in the Cloud, with no offline mode, or it's something that will change with future revisions of Chrome OS?

Although in the present, I think I prefer Apple's use of the Cloud, whereby documents/emails etc. are stored on your computer, with the cloud being used to push them to your devices. At least this way you're not as inconvenienced if the Cloud goes down, or you have no internet connection. Still, it's early days, and as you say this laptop may be a glimpse of a Cloud-dominated future.

ffrankmccaffery

July 11, 2011, 10:18 am

@Gordon: It certainly is although I like many I bought mine refurbished for a lot less. That said still no way should a limited notebook such as this weigh as much as a fully featured one.
@PoisonJam: Just close the lid of your Thinkpad and send it to sleep. I've been doing it for years.

simon jackson

July 11, 2011, 8:18 pm

I wouldn't go that far, Gordon. The future is likely somewhere between the "Chrome OS model" (which philosophically is no different to the old unix model of dumb terminals) and the conventional OS model. There will always be applications which it is simply more practical to install and run locally. Whilst wide area network bandwidth is getting better all the time, so applications are getting larger, more process intensive, and more demanding on memory. Applications which are several gigabyte installs will require that much data to be transfered between client and server if they are to run in a browser and effectively streamed over the wire. Either that or employ the sort of compression used to create installers which will gobble cpu cycles at either end. For small applications on high bandwidth networks it makes sense to run over the wire, because whilst it's still inefficient to download the same program data over and over again, every time you use the software, the absolute time-cost each time is low. For applications which are large w.r.t. available bandwidth, the opposite will always be true.

I hope that the tide of "everything on line" is stemmed at some point, because whilst it's convenient to be able to access your data on whatever computer you like, wherever you are, it also means you relinquish practically all control over your electronic life. To give a trivial example, if one of the many on-line software providers like googledocs or onLive experience server downtime, all of a sudden my online laptop is about as useful as a lump of coal. Obviously, the same is true if i lose network connectivity. And that's not a black/white issue - it's a sliding scale of usefulness against bandwidth.

betelgeus

July 11, 2011, 8:29 pm

seems like samsung would have been better off putting the a5 chip in.
also better i think to have the chrome os in a dual boot system.

Bill Brock

December 9, 2013, 12:17 am

won't turn on what to do ?

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