A little while back at Google I/O Google introduced the world to Chromebooks. Svelte machines that run Google's own OS, Chrome OS. Chrome OS is unlike any other OS that's hit the shelves. It's fast, lean, and easy to use. Chromebooks look to continue that theme. They are fast (relatively), lean, and easy to use.
Chromebooks aren't mean to be primary machines. Google has said as much. They are meant to be secondary or complimentary to a main computer running a full blown OS like Windows, Mac, or Linux. Does this sound familiar? It should. It's the same thing that's been said about netbooks since they were introduced. Head past the break to find out why you would want one.
Web browsing is high on the list of what's typically done on a computer. Google knows this. So they set out to build an OS centered around browsing the web. They already have a winner with Chrome web browser, so why not extend that and make it a base for an OS? Someone at Google must have had that same thought, because that's exactly what they did. Chrome OS is simply a much more functional and feature-rich version of Chrome web browser. And Chromebooks are what run this operating system. We can't talk about Chromebooks without first talking a little about Chrome OS, though.
Chrome OS - The Software
This is not a review of Chrome OS. More like an overview of the main features.
What you see is what you get. When you open a new tab you get your list of apps. The list is automatically populated when you install an app from the Chrome web store. Chrome OS is set up just like Chrome web browser. If you click on the wrench that brings up your settings menu. This covers all settings for the OS, not just those for Chrome. They are sparse, and there isn't a lot to adjust. Tabs can be reorganized and pinned however you like.
Chrome OS boots fast. Really fast. Power button to login screen takes less than 10 seconds. When you log in it automatically restores your last session, meaning all of the tabs you had open are automatically reloaded for you when you log in. Waking up from sleep (which happens automatically when you close the lid) is almost instantaneous. Updates happen automatically, just like they do with Chrome web browser.
Chromebooks - The Hardware
Chromebooks are designed from the ground up to run Chrome OS. The first hardware to run Chrome OS officially was the CR-48. I have one. I'm sure some of you have one. It's a great machine. It was never meant to be a retail unit, though. And that's why it's not considered a Chromebook. Samsung and Acer are the first two manufacturers to built Chromebooks.
The specs are very similar, with the major differences being the screen size and design. This is Google's doing, because they specified what hardware to put in these machines. I'm not going to go into specifics here (we can save that for a later time), but think netbook and you'll get the basic idea. The difference is the OS. With Chrome OS netbook specs are more than enough to cope with what you'll be doing on it. Dual-core Atom processors and integrated graphics should be more than adequate.
The keyboard on Chromebooks also looks a little different. Don't worry it's still a QWERTY layout, but other things have changed. The caps lock key has been replaced with a search key, which opens another tab for you to perform your search. There are no function keys. They've been replaced with back, forward, refresh, fullscreen, window switcher, brightness up/down, volume mute, volume up/down, and the power button in that order. You also have no windows key.
So that's Chrome OS and Chromebooks in a nutshell. Visit the Chromebook forums
to discuss Chrome OS and the current crop of Chromebooks.