Google`s Chrome Notebook: Not What You Expected

Yesterday, Google held a press conference at which it talked about Chrome, its web store and the Chrome OS. Rumors circulated widely that the company would be putting out a netbook with the operating system. In a sense, it is – but if you’re expecting something very fancy with the Google brand and lots of bells and whistles, you’ll probably be disappointed.

With the number of Chrome users having tripled from 40 to 120 million in this year alone, Google realized that it needed to do more than just design a browser that can all but take the place of the operating system. It needs to get this system into the hands of people who can tell them what to do with it. So the company launched a pilot program where it will give test notebooks to qualified users, developers, schools and businesses. While it will start in the U.S., Google plans to expand it to other countries. You can visit the Chrome notebook website to sign up to participate in the program.

So what kind of notebooks will participants receive? Google explained that they are black, with “no branding, no logos, no stickers, nothing.” But they do have 12.1 inch screens, full-sized keyboards and touch pads, integrated 3G from Verizon, eight hours of battery life and eight days of standby time. The notebook will also have a built-in webcam and flash-based storage.

What it won’t have is nearly as interesting as what it will have. In addition to no logos, the notebooks will have no function keys. There will also be no caps lock key, which should make a lot of people very happy. Danny Sullivan, blogging for Search Engine Land, notes that the notebook, dubbed the Google Chrome OS Notebook CR-48, also will not have a hard drive.

It will be interesting to see how this works out. It won’t be the first time a computer has been released without a hard drive. Previous versions of such computers have flopped – but they were not released in a modern environment in which so many different web applications are easily available, and users have become accustomed to getting at their information “in the cloud.”

If you can relate to being able to access your web-based email from any computer, you might like the way these computers work. Several people can share the same machine and not see each other’s stuff; “simply by logging in, all of your apps, bookmarks and other browser settings are there,” Google explains. And setting up a new machine is very fast, which is very refreshing to those of us who remember spending hours setting up Windows. Those notebooks will supposedly stay fast and secure, too; with automatic updates and two different kinds of sandboxes, Google hopes to stay on top of any problems before they develop.

If you don’t manage to score a Google notebook from the pilot program and really want one, you’ll have to wait for a bit…but not too long. Acer and Samsung will be selling them in the first half of next year, for a price still to be determined.

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