By Paul Gorski
You might buy a Chromebook because it fits in your pickup truck’s glove compartment. You might buy a Chromebook because it is light and shiny and reminds you of grandpa’s old silver dollars. Or, you just might buy a Chromebook if you’re gullible enough to believe the sales pitch “It’s just like a MacBook Air.” Enough of the Jeff Foxworthy “you might be a redneck” parody.
Google’s new $249 Chromebook laptop isn’t the computer for “everyone,” as Google’s new commercials may claim. It isn’t for serious gamers, people who want to install their own programs on their own computer, or for people who don’t want to be connected to the Internet all the time just to be able to use their computer. And it isn’t a Macbook Air.
The Chromebook doesn’t run Windows, MacOS X, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Word or a host of other programs you may be familiar with. The Chromebook runs Google Chrome OS, which looks like the Google Chrome browser many of us already use. The browser-based interface is no accident: the Chromebook is a “cloud” computer, requiring an Internet connection to access your data and programs to be useful.
The new Chromebook is an inexpensive, lightweight and relatively perky laptop with a decent keyboard and trackpad that will allow you to surf the Internet, update your Facebook page, and write letters and use spreadsheets using Google Docs. That’s if you have Wi-Fi access to the Internet, as this new, low-end Chromebook only has Wi-Fi (wireless) for network connections.
I am going to dispense with the technical specifications, as the Chromebook is in that class of impulse buy gadgets, like the Apple iPad and Android OS tablets, that no matter what one says, some folks will just spend the money. If they don’t like it, they sell it.
Before your $249 impulse buy, I recommend you visit the Chromebook website at www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/devices and visit your local Best Buy store to give the Chromebook a test drive. The new Google Chromebook may not be for everyone, but it might just be the right solution for you.
Paul Gorski has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments that he hard-wired to the back of an Apple IIe.
From the Nov. 7-13, 2012, issue