A few weeks ago I got a nice holiday present from the folks at Google – a new CR-48 Google Chrome OS Notebook.

I of course immediately unboxed it, pictures are below, and started using it.  I told the kind folks at Google in my application that I would be a solid beta tester giving them reproducible bugs and I have been diligent to my claim.  So far, after a few weeks of usage its a very stable laptop and I hope to get a ton of use out of it.

A few takeaways

This is a true NetBook in the way Larry Ellison described way back when.

This is truly a net native machine

Hardware is relatively unimportant anymore (in the case of low end netbooks)

The browser is the OS and vice versa

It is not a MacBook Pro

Hardware

So far I have no complaints about the hardware.  Its a smooth finish that is a matte black surface and very nondescript  - which seems to be on purpose.  Google wants you to concentrate on whats inside, which is an Intel processor, but more importantly the notebook is running Chrome OS (but more on that later)

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I have gotten accustomed to the keyboard and screen – which are decent.  This is not a machine that should be looked at for any overclocking records or performance but that is fine.  The trackpad leaves a bit to be desired, but that is only because I am comparing it to a MacBook Pro which is slightly unfair.  The keyboard and trackpad combo are responsive and nice to type on.  I have been using this machine (and typing on it now!) as my primary home machine and for what it was built for I have no major complaints.

It seems light and strong and the battery life is pretty great.  It has one built in USB port, one VGA monitor port, and a built in wireless modem with Verizon.

You can probably read elsewhere the ram, HDD, and processor as countless others have taken the time to strip the machines down and know the exact costs.

Below are some of the unboxing photos which show more about the machine.

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The OS itself is really the main event.  This is, in my opinion, why Google has left the body so nondescript.  This machine is all browser all the time.  With the launch of the Chrome App Store its clear that the future of software is in the cloud according the Google.  My only initial complaint is that most of the “apps” are just glorified shortcuts to the sites themselves.  Some have specially designed landing pages, but most just take you to the applications homepage or login area for Chrome.

Other apps are tightly integrated into the OS (browser).  An example would be chat or todo list apps.  If you are a gmail user and you have used chat that is basically built in on and around the email experience, that is a integrated Chrome OS application.

The more native apps are fast and responsive, and transcend your Chrome installations.  I was pleasedsurprised to find that apps I had installed on my Cr-48 were now also on my Macbook Pro which I use as a primary work machine.

Chrome has become my default browser almost since it came out, and this just reinforces that choice.  Its fast, and has everything synchronized across machines which is great.

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With the advent of the Mac App store, and the plethora of other app stores out there its clear that everyone wants to be the platform for your apps.  Amazon has their upcoming Android app store, there is the iOS or iPhone app store, the Android Marketplace, the Chrome Web store, and obviously many others.

By becoming your preferred marketplace the platform behind it will begin to build your taste graph which can then follow you between devices.  I think this is important.  In the future you will never really be “getting a new computer” so much as getting a new shell that is connected to your App Store of Choice.

Moving to this model makes sense for Google and for consumers.

Conclusion:  The future of computing is definitely tied to a login and predefined preferences.  Even first time users benefit from setting up their machine in such a way.  I do not envision having a “empty” machine or terminal in the future but rather tie it to my identity early on in the process.

The low end market is going to explode with these types of devices.

Hardware doesn’t matter only the software and features.

High speed connectivity has finally made the net book idea possible.

More to come as I continue to use this machine!

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