Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Working In the Cloud With the Google CR-48

It's been a couple of weeks since the UPS driver delivered my own personal free netbook from Google. I was totally blown away by the fact that I even qualified for it. Even though I have 5 PCs in my office here at church, I'm not a computer geek - just a hoarder. :)

The CR-48 is a lightweight, low powered, minimalist netbook powered by Google's new Chrome operating system. You'd never really know that last part if someone didn't tell you, since everything you do happens within the same Chrome browser you may already have installed. Everything happens in "the cloud."

It's been a roller-coaster ride with the CR-48. Initially I loved it for its minimalism. It's like a stripped Thinkpad with even more rubberized coating. And even though the Atom CPU is not all that, it's plenty fast enough for most everything I do. Then I started to notice things like not being able to download and open common files. Or use my USB stick or SD cards. No local storage at all, just enough internally to house the operating system. It basically forces you to use Google Docs and apps that run online.

That strategy could work, if you stay in wifi territory. But I've already run into two instances where I had no wifi. The second one caused me to fire up the built in Verizon WAN card. It worked great but you have to be mindful of the data charges. Google does chip in 100MB per month in free data. So in rare circumstances you could make do.

I love the size, the battery life, and the simplicity. If Google can continue to mature the software to add SD and USB support, and open most common documents directly in Google Apps when you download them, I could see me and a few million of my friends paying $150 or so for a device like this. Thanks Google!

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