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Posted by on Aug 16, 2012 in Featured, Reviews |

Review: My week with the Chromebook

My week with the Chromebook

Photos: Mariano Mancilla .

In my hands came XE500C21 5 Series, a very special notebook in his gut that runs the and Windows version 20 or otherwise, in a very daring of project which aims to establish a new paradigm in computer terms , focusing on software for use dependent on the Internet and cloud services.

You could try to explain what the strange concept of Chrome OS, say how it differs from Windows and list their characteristics, however, the best way to understand is to use it, and in this case, I will tell how my experience was replacing my PC this for a whole week, looking to meet personal expectations when purchasing a notebook suitable for everyday use.

My week with the Chromebook image 2

And here we will not get so demanding, I’m not a NASA engineer and we all know what the product is basic promises. Because according to Google and Samsung, we should be against “the best web experience” to “spend all day surfing the net, working and downloading” a machine “designed to reach as far as you want”, although I have no idea do you mean by that last sentence. So no specialized software or anything professional.

But this is not the best that we can access, since the Chromebook is an ongoing project of Google and the XE500C21 we have an older brother, Series 5550, with better CPU and double the RAM as well as an updated version of Chrome OS 21.

At first glance

My week with the Chromebook image 3

According to the specifications, the equipment is lightweight, compact and small size. However, the build quality is quite good despite being plastic, and if it does not offer the rigidity of an aluminum body, seems not to have a poor quality netbook. Much more portable than a conventional 13-inch model and much better than a netbook 10 “or 11″ left an impression that makes you want to use, very according to the profile to which it is suggested, which are daily tasks and web browsing .

My week with the Chromebook image 4

Looking closely, the keyboard has a number of dedicated buttons that replace the functions F1 to F12, with direct access to the arrows forward, back, refresh and full page web browser, along with controls for brightness screen, volume and key off. On the other hand, the trackpad is a complete surface to handle multi-touch gestures, supporting two-finger scrolling and little else, since there is no zoom pinching or moving images to the side.

Both are a reflection of the philosophy of this team, and clean design comes in handy in times where minimalism is precious and freedom from complications is certainly something to be grateful every day.

And turn on …

So far so simple, and as we are, the tendency to experience Chromebook. And it is this simplicity is that promises speed, because as Chrome OS a single platform, lightweight, is truly realized the power is on in 10 seconds or less, time which passes from one state to be completely out in the open window Chrome web browser. Without doubt the best we’ve seen.

The first thing you see, a few moments after pressing the power button is the login screen, which shows the different users that are registered on the computer, each with its own settings. To achieve this, the person must enter your Gmail email and password credentials from now on will be the master keys of Chromebook.

Then immediately comes the Google Chrome web browser, the main and only tool available on the computer. Yes, plain and simple: this team is all he does is run Chrome, no more, no kidding. Why it’s called Chrome OS, and the idea here is to provide expeditious navigation in a lightweight platform that does not consume many resources and therefore, do not hold much more than the browser, so the lighting fast and long battery life .

There are two important aspects that were found essential to understand what I was using: the application system and file system.

Web Applications

My week with the Chromebook image 5

The offer makes Google to build its ecosystem of applications is not through a computer’s internal platform to install programs, like Windows, OS X or any Linux distribution, but the idea here is to gain remote access to all utilities, installing anything on your PC.

The app store Chrome Web Store us “fools” in a way to send offers to being caught, leaving in the application menu of Chrome OS (which is much like Android) a tool icon. Here I thought that something was going to throw when you do then click, but surprise, for it serves all my new shortcut is to open a new browser tab with the page where the flash animation we seek.

This puzzled me because, unlike previous versions of the Chrome browser, now are not installed or downloaded applications, but they are simply links to an external website, and Google’s store is a mere facade. For example, I entered the store and got something called “Virtual Piano Black”. I have an icon in my menu and when I throw, I get to http://www.buttonbeats.com/piano/chromePiano.html , with advertising and everything:

My week with the Chromebook image 6

In other cases, remains the method of conventional and complementary Chrome installs a plug-in, but only where required add extra functionality to the browser, a screen capture or download manager, which works just as well here as in the version of software for Windows or Mac OS X.

File System

This almost made me log off in a hurry and work from the phone, but fortunately, there’s something about Chrome OS to a desktop platform rather than a mobile operating system. This is the internal file system that has, as there is a kind of internal structure which gives relatively free of controls that we keep on your computer.

We introduce a USB flash memory and it shows no problems and can move the contents into your machine, in a simple environment shown in a left sidebar which have connected, besides the place where everything is stored on the PC: Downloads folder.

My week with the Chromebook image 7

From here you can take to upload files to the web through forms, as well as access to basic editing tasks on images with certain tools integrated, accessible as we visualize the picture, although very little can be done, not more to adjust the brightness and position of the photo, along with the share button to Picasa:

My week with the Chromebook image 8

And with that I ran out of fun, because apart from that, the configuration is done from Chrome Chromebook, and not much more you can explore inside the computer, as shortcuts to Google Drive, Gmail and YouTube open the service in the browser, and explain its operation would be redundant, since it is the same in all operating systems.

Everyday tasks

I have more or less clear how it works and what I can do with your computer, so you can just scan. Because once it is assumed that everything opens in the web browser and that the only thing that works on Chrome OS is the file system, not much more to explore. In fact, nothing, so browsing is said.

The first thing I need is to write, edit images in Photoshop and upload them via a form. I can do two of three, however, the stumbling block is Photoshop. Clearly I can not install, because this is Chrome OS and not Windows or Mac, and as the applications are simple shortcuts to a new browser tab, I turned to an old acquaintance: the online editor pixlr.com .

The music player “integrated” in Chrome OS is just a shortcut to the service Google Play Music company, who guessed: opens in a new tab. And worse, not available in my country. So you better let soundcloud.com or something …

My week with the Chromebook image 9

Social networking … well, apart tabs, because neither a basic application that runs on Chrome OS there. So with everything, in short, all you do is to have many tabs open browser open because nothing works natively on OS. Basically, I’m facing a portable disabled, and if not for that in Internet there are web versions of all, as Pixlr or Soundcloud, I could not do anything.

And at least walk fast? No. And remember that the inner shelf of Chromebook is just an Intel Atom with integrated graphics Intel GMA 3150, and although Chrome OS seems light on resources, we all know that the Chrome browser above it is not so, and five tabs open up and beginning to show slow user experience, animations slow movement interrupted.

In support, it is noteworthy that in addition to the very short time on, the suspension and recovery is also instant, being the best team the speed with which one sits on the desk and start working even half. In addition, the battery life is excellent, with six or seven hours under intense conditions, with multiple tabs and different kinds of services.

Finally, we must bear in mind again that there is a Chromebook hardware with better performance, which certainly goes faster than this, along with an updated version of Chrome OS 21, more than any improvement will have to solve some problems that are seen.

Conclusion

My week with the Chromebook image 10

A Chrome OS lacks. The computer and operating system come with the promise under his arm to offer simplicity and speed, however, the software is so simple that it lacks basic functions, and the new paradigm of work in the cloud 100% dependent on the Internet does not fit our times, nor is accompanied by a rich ecosystem for applications to sustain this model, because no applications.

The physical design of the laptop is not nothing wrong with a comfortable keyboard, trackpad there is nothing to say and an anti-reflective screen that offers the best brightness and contrast, but is anti-glare. Energy independence is the best and the power and suspension times are optimal.

The big problem is that having a PC that only makes walking a web browser, the options are limited, and in a week, is already a machine using a friend or family member to run a program you can not in your Chromebook So now we understand why the team did not sell enough and almost any vendor caught the idea, so Google is working hard on it to improve it. For my part, I go back to anything happy with Windows, Mac OS X or Linux … for now.

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