Day 5, 6, and 7 with the CR-48, a Curiosity

My friends know about the CR-48, otherwise known as the "Google Laptop." The question I get most often is "How did you get it?" My answer to that, is... I don't know, I don't know how Google evaluates who deserves such a cool and probably expensive (at least in my mind) piece of hardware. I applied and got a laptop. Right now, I noticed a curiosity toward the device among my friends, they ask, "...what is it? What is it like?" It's a piece of hardware dedicated to a browser.

Hooked up the CR-48 to a 1080p TV

It's a great appliance for doing the web stuff that I need to do. I even hooked up the CR-48 to the TV and it worked just fine. Flash may have been a bit choppy, but it was tolerable because the tv was so large.

Hooked up the CR-48 to a 1080p TV

It was decent enough. A curiosity of a thing. The allure of something free. I don't know if they are truly interested in the product, in the Chrome OS, or what it does. I think it's a curiosity to them because the concept of a browser as an operating system is just strange.

What do you think about the Google Notebook?

Day 3 and 4 With the CR-48

Google CR-48

I noticed something about my online habits after using the CR-48 for a few days. That is, in all of Chrome OS' splendor and wonderment, there's nothing magical about it. It's practical, straight to the point, and just works. I found myself turning on the computer to check my email, rss subscriptions, write a blog, watch some television programs online, or even just check a social network. I was on, and off the device moments after my task was done.

I'm not distracted by the interface as I'm viewing one webpage at a time. (Although, I would love to be able to reference two pages synchronously on the same screen at times.) I can see myself using a product like this more regularly, moreover when html5's data caching, having apps locally, even when there isn't a data connection would be ideal. Mostly, for situations when all is needed would be a word processor, I would sometimes want to just disconnect.

This is a quick screenshot of the other laptop's chrome preferences synchronized to Chrome OS.

Synchonized Preferences to Chrome OS

Maybe I'm just vaguely reminiscing the time I used to spend with the workhorse laptop of my work life. I believe that we all have some form of emotional response to the objects we interact with everyday. We associate certain companies with frustration and maybe even anger. I think about, Microsoft, in my honest opinion, this company has done an amazing job in improving their user experience. Products that come to mind are the Xbox, Zune, and Windows 7. Personally, I really enjoy each of those products. I've used each of these products and I just have had such great experience. It's been so good, the only bitter taste left in the mouth of my mind is IE6. With Chrome OS, I feel that I can use this and get off and on the internet. My experience has been great. So good, it's sometimes easy to forget the bugs.

  • It's a little slower (than the other laptop) at times to render pages
  • Flash player isn't so smooth at higher/larger frames

... and maybe a few other bugs. I just really hope that services like Evernote, Google Docs, Blogger, Google Reader, and Google Calendar worked offline. Overall, four days later, I'm satisfied with my user experience thus far, keeping in mind, that I'm using it as a regular user might, not as a developer.

Tell me, what do you think about having a piece of hardware dedicated for a browser? (I know that this last notion is a crude underestimation of what Google is trying to do with the Chrome OS, but humor me.) How would you build a netbook?

Day 2 With the Chrome OS CR-48

So on my second day with the Chrome OS, I've been missing a few features from a regular desktop configuration, like being able to see the wallpaper; although there are themes, I really like being able to see, some form of personal area. It would make the browser feel more like "home."So far, from the past two days, I've been blogging from the CR-48 and the keyboard is great! I think it would be a great benefit for usability to add have a back lit keyboard. I had some issues trying to type in the back of my friend's car.

I love the fact that I was able to blog, check traffic on Google maps, see Facebook, and check my email. I mean these are things I can do from my phone but the experience is very different. I had a fully immersive web experience from my friend's car. I haven't used the available free 100mb (bandwidth) from Verizon yet. I was just tethering from my Google Nexus One.

So, right now, you're reading a post from the CR-48 typed out in the freezing Ice Palace Ice in Yorba Linda. This is an ice skating rink...

At the Ice Palace in Yorba Linda CA

My fingers are freezing... I can really barely type. But just to test how portable and practical this thing is, I brought it. To watch my friends play ice broom ball. Oh, and that photo was taken, pre-game... while people were still playing hockey.

I was able to download the photo through my Gmail account, and then upload it using Flickr's Flash based file uploader. To my surprise, I saw this:

Chrome OS File Browser

Which is obviously a Linux based file browser ui. So there's definitely a file browser! With this, I should be able to do many other tasks later on... maybe even changing out my login photo... hmm... Anyway, here's some video footage of the game:

Taken with the Nexus One

Day 1 With the Google Chrome Notebook CR-48

Today has been interesting, I haven't been able to really play around with the notebook. Like using it, over and over and over and over again. Checking mail, doing my daily web browsing routine; social web browsing, just using it for what it is... in it's purest form... a "netbook."

Thoughts on Hardware

My initial impression of the product is a good piece of hardware, not branded, well made, good keyboard and texture, bright screen, adequate keyboard controls, and intuitive hardware interface. Overall, for something to run tests on to test this operating system, the CR-48 is a great baseline piece of hardware. In my opinion, there's something about the simplicity of an object that makes me appreciate the beauty of an object even more. To me this piece of hardware isn't anything impressive, but it's simply something beautiful. It just works. I really do think that whoever worked on the hardware, with the design decisions that they took, and the intentionality of each part, it's been a pleasure working with this hardware.

My Initial Impressions on Hardware Quirks

  • Single USB Port (Two Ports is good, one port is minimal... although, no ports would not be good)
  • VGA Port for external display(It's adequate, but DVI is also nice)
  • Touch Pad is strange, does not seem stable.

For what the hardware is worth, it's a well designed machine.

Thoughts on Chrome OS

I had to change a few habits that I've formed with other operating systems. The fact of the matter is, when you boot this thing up and log in, it brings you straight to the browser. It brings you straight to the web. It's a pleasantly surprising experience to have something do really good at what it's supposed to be doing. It's supposed to bring me to the web, and it does it, in very good style.

The interesting thing is that every piece of the Chrome OS seems thought through well enough to just work. It's as if I'm reading a book, and all the characters in it just make sense. My hopes are that this furthers the development of the web as a repository for applications. I believe that browsers have the capability of being able to also house offline applications. I find that that's the case with Google Calendar, although requiring Google Gears (which Google has discontinued development of), you're able to download large chunks of your server generated data, to view, edit and later synchronize.

Initial Impressions of OS Quirks

  • It seems like certain things are hidden, maybe, a little too well. For example, I didn't know that I could create a new window (CTRL + N) and have a whole new batch of tabs to deal with. That's when I found out what ALT + TAB was for.
  • Ability to Upload Files, maybe I just don't know how to do this yet.
  • Ability to change login picture
  • I guess, I would love a file manager

I sincerely love the Chrome OS, I believe that there is a market for this. It hit's the market who just want's to get online... and get online in the most efficient way possible. I think it would make sense that Google would be good at the web.

My Initial Thoughts About The Cloud

Google made an interesting video about one of the benefits of having data on the cloud:

Now, there's this thing about trust... can we trust the cloud? Most of the people I know have their email on a third party server. I think that there should be a clear distinction of what kind of data you'd want online.

Netbooks, in my opinion, aren't made to be a repository for pictures or memories, or notes, or any sensitive information. Netbooks are to the internet as motorcycles are to the road. Both take you in the same place, the motorcycle is just faster.

Chrome OS on CR-48, Pilot Program

Google CR-48

I feel like I've got a golden ticket, and somehow I'm magically transported into the wonderful world of Google. As I was leaving home for work, a delivery man comes up to my car window and startles me. He says, "I have a package for you." Which I realize is very similar to what the delivery man in Back to the Future, and I felt something like Marty. I didn't order anything online, nor did I order anything from Amazon... then I thought to myself, "could this be possible?" So I partially opened the box right there, lo and behold...

The Google CR-48, in my hands. I partially opened the box in the car I couldn't contain my excitement as I drove quickly to work to complete the unboxing.

Google CR-48 Google CR-48 Google CR-48 Google CR-48

So, I'll be in the pilot program for Google, I'll double check to find out about any NDA before I start posting about the netbook here.

Anyways, back to work at Liferay.