Review: Google's Chrome OS Notebook

Earlier in December Google took the wraps off of the Chrome OS, the search giant's take on a modern, lightweight operating system. Along with it, Google launched a pilot program by sending out specialized laptops loaded up with Chrome OS.

We got our hands on Google's "reference design" Chrome OS Notebook, called the Cr-48. To be clear, the Cr-48 isn't ever going to be a commercial product like the Nexus One (or S) is for the Android smartphone platform, but rather its purpose is for Google to gather feedback data in preparation for when Chrome OS hits stores in 2011  (it will come installed on products from Acer, Samsung, and others).

In a product world where new products get snazzy names, Cr-48 is a little out of the ordinary – except that it fits right into the way Google does things. We asked a Googler why it was called Cr-48, and we were told, "Cr-48 is a reference to a particularly unstable isotope of Chromium.  Cr-48 has a half-life of 21 hours, which we thought was a good representation of the pace of innovation we expect from our team and the platform."

Interestingly enough, the internal codename for the Cr-48 was "Mario," which can actually be found on the model stickers in the notebook's battery compartment.

The product arrived inside this imaginative box, decorated with plans for a for a jet engine and its rodent pilot. With it was a list of 10 things to do with the Chrome OS notebook, which point out that all Cr-48s come with 100MB of free Verizon data for two years, show off the "instant resume" and brag about its 8+ hours of use and 8+ days of standby time.

An included quick-start card points out some of the features of the notebook, primarily the changes to the keyboard that Google saw fit to make that differ from standard, ubiquitous designs. Because it runs a whole new OS that doesn't have to adhere to legacy features like Windows or even Mac OS does, Google did away with the Windows or Option keys, as well as all the function keys on the top row of the keyboard. In their place are dedicated keys for the following functions:

  • Back
  • Forward
  • Reload
  • Full screen
  • Next tab
  • Screen brightness controls
  • Mute
  • Volume controls

Book-ending those top row keys are the escape key and the power button.

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  • Silmarunya
    They sure spent some money on those promotional videos...
  • chickenhoagie
    Such a very strange concept..I don't think i could ever adopt the ways of cloud computing. Much less not being able to go outside my browser.
  • joytech22
    I'm willing to give one of those Chrome notebooks/laptops whatever they are a review, but as they say.. "US Only"..

    It seems everything is one-sided these days.. but that didn't stop me from sending in a application, even though i know i won't get a response.
  • mrhappy50
    I like the design and the idea that every "tab" is in its own little world so nothing else could potentially get infected.
  • anthonyla65
    Waste of money for a commercial like this.
  • razzb3d
    it's a nice little gadget, but it won't be replacing my qosmio f50 anytime soon.
  • forrestsun
    Cloud cloud cloud. I'll give it at least another 5 years (or however long it takes to let internet access populate the entire world). In the commercial the bad guys always take away the laptop, why not take away his "internet access", what can he do then? Not for me, I will trust my data only if I know for sure I have multiple copeis "under my roof".