The Chromebook One Month Later: Tantalizingly Close But Still Feels Beta

Wait. Why Do I Have A Desktop?

This is the desktop on my Samsung Chromebook.

Two things should jump out at you.

1. It’s awesomely reminiscent of Mac OS (but slightly sexier)

and

2. Why the heck do I have a desktop on my Chromebook?

The answer to 2 is that I shouldn’t, but I have to.

As everyone who’s been reading lately knows, I am an unabashed fan of the idea of ChromeOS and Chromebooks in general. A super light, super quick OS that is essentially just a web browser with a file manager built-in? In a world where most users either do, or could if properly informed, spend all of their time in a web browser, ChromeOS is a computing philosophy that feels perfect. It’s certainly the shape of things to come.

In practice the idea mostly holds up. I’ve used my Samsung Series 5 as my primary machine for the past month and, with very few exceptions, it’s functioned exactly as I’d expected it to. Samsung’s claims of an eight-hour battery life have more than held up; I do most of my work from coffee shops and client’s offices and I haven’t had to pack my charging cable once. In fact, most days I get home and still get an hour or two of use out of the machine before I finally see the low battery warning.

Likewise, the Chromebook’s footprint is nigh perfect. I hate the cramped feel of a netbook, but I also hate the weight and bulk of most laptops. The Series 5 straddles the gap between the two quite nicely. It’s almost as compact as a netbook, but the slightly larger screen and full size keyboard make it feel far less like a toy than comparable offerings from ASUS, Acer and Dell.

Web browsing is terrific; the wi-fi radio seems to have a better range than that in any of the notebooks I’ve used in the last year, which means that, compared to my wife’s Macbook on our home wi-fi network, I get far less signal and drop issues. Occasionally I’ve run into the too-many-tabs= uber-lag issues that others have reported, but with every OS update those occurrences happen less and less frequently.

But the Chromebook does have a few failings. And, unfortunately, the areas it fails at are fairly crippling. [Read more...]