On Wednesday, the first commercially available Google Chromebook, the Samsung Series 5, went on sale. At a starting price of $430 for the Wi-Fi only model, or $500 for the 3G version, the cloud-based laptop has no hard drive, instead relying on a Google account, an internet connection, and browser-based apps to store files online and perform most functions. The first machine to run Google's Chrome Operating System, the unique, stripped-down computer is being heralded as a "bold move," and the possible beginning of a "computing revolution." Is the Chromebook all that, or merely a failed experiment?
Nice try, but Chromebook is a failure: Google should be praised for this "noble effort" to shake things up, but unfortunately, this "newfangled concept" doesn't work, says David Pogue in The New York Times. Yes, the Chromebook is downright "beautiful, with a sparse, uncluttered MacBookish feel. Its battery lasts longer than those of hard-drive-based laptops and its operating system is less vulnerable to viruses. But, if it isn't online, it's impotent — you can't read email, listen to music, or work on documents. "Maybe in Silicon Valley, where Google's engineers live, you can live your entire life online." But for the rest of us, a laptop that's dependent on Wi-Fi access or a Verizon cell signal makes little sense.
"A laptop, its head in the cloud"
It makes sense for some people: "Chromebooks are not for everyone," or really, for most people, says Dana Wollman at Engadget. But if you "are ready to move to the cloud and not look back," it could be a "hell of a companion." Its "thoughtful design," "fantastic" keyboard, and "incredible" battery life will turn heads, as will the fact that it instantly turns on when you open the lid. Sure, Chrome OS is still a work in progress, but I'm confident Google will keep improving upon it.
"Samsung Chromebook Series 5 review"
Still, it's overpriced: This machine works well and looks good, but it's "expensive for its features and abilities," says Joshua Goldman at CNET. For this price, "you can buy a more capable Windows Netbook" or any other laptop that can let you work offline, connect easily to a printer, and stream Netflix. For that matter, you could also just get a tablet or a smartphone.
"Samsung Chromebook Series 5 (Wi-Fi, white)"
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