Sunday, January 2, 2011

Google Chrome Notebook

So, I've already mentioned two things:

  1. I was accepted into the Google Chrome notebook test program, and...
  2. I find it odd that most people from the SeaTac area respond to questions with "So..." or "And so..."
The latter of these is very strange indeed.  While my in-laws from the Northern Midwest end sentences with "wouldn't you know" and insert "gosh" and "golly gee wizz" into so much of their daily verbage, the lead-in of "So" and "And so" by Seattle folks is very strange indeed.  Don't get me wrong, both geographic demographics are chock full of very nice people, it's just another example of how diverse we really are in America.  That probably has confounded more foreign tourists than anything else.  They arrive with expectations of racial and religious variety, but our linguistic colloquialisms are a shot right out of left field.

And so, (hee hee haw haw), Google must have turned off the metal detector and I somehow slipped through the pat-down line for the Chrome Notebook gateway.  I applied.  Five days later a plan box arrives.  I open it to find the notebook packed with a charged battery and a one-sheet posterboard instruction insert.

Form-factor-wise the product is nothing unusual.  A very Spartan, all-black, matte-finish case.  Sans "CAPS LK", "Num Lk", "Del", "End" and "Home" buttons, it has a Search button (where the CAPS LOCK would normally reside), and the Page Up/Down buttons are compressed into the bottom right corner with left and right keys.  The touch pad is somewhat akin to a Blackberry Storm 2 touch/press/click interface.  You can tap or press.  It does press well with single and double-finger gestures.  But the pad is so over-sized that the pads of my thumbs constantly confuse the cursor while I'm in a typical heated typing frenzy.  That's the most annoying thing: I have to be careful of my hand placement while typing.  The pad should be trapezoidal to allow more room for the natural angle of hand placement.

Apps-wize, it's essentially an all-browser paradigm.  You boot into a Chrome 9 browser environment.  I like it.  I really do.  It was a little strange at first, but I now feel very comfortable with it all.

A typical rendezvous with my Chrome Notebook, which I'm in the throws of as I write this actually, consists of tabbed sessions for Facebook, Gmail, Google Reader, Grooveshark (streaming music), and quite often I have Adam Carolla show running via the AceCast plug-in.  Today it's a re-run of Adam and Dr. Drew.  Once I'm caught up on Adam's shows I stroll over to No Agenda and catch up on that pod show as well.

Conclusion

Given that the overall experience is not really all that radically "new", the net result is that you actually get less than you would from a typical Notebook, Laptop or even Netbook.  It's somewhat like what the Netbook idea was originally intended to be: A thin-client in a portable form.  Netbooks gave up on that almost immediately and started stuffing in more and more crap and expanding the screen size as well.

SIDE NOTE:  This scenario seems to be a standard model:  One tactic takes the "too-much" road, while a counter approach takes the "too little" road.  Eventually, they race to fill the void in the middle.  We've seen it with RISC vs CISC, UNIX vs Windows, workstation vs desktop, Electric vs Gasoline (hybrid), and so on.  

Since this product starts with a familiar form factor and deducts traditional features, I have to assume the only viable marketable aspect will be a cheaper price.  And by cheaper, I would have to assume sub $200.  Assuming Google still has some unexpected tricks up their sleeve, I wouldn't even be surprised if they gave them away free as part of some bundled marketing incentive (think Verizon, AT&T, BestBuy, Walmart, etc.). If this thing were to cost consumers $200 or more, most will pass over it on their way to looking at Netbooks, the iPad or Galaxy Tab (a very cool gadget as well).  I would not be surprised to see some sort of "sign up for ___ and get a free Google Chrome Notebook" campaign.
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