First thoughts on the Google CR-48 laptop
16 January, 2011 § 2 Comments
Less than a month ago I was lucky enough to arrive home and find one of the Google CR-48 laptops on my doorstep. I had applied for the program when I saw a small link on the “new tab page” of Chrome, and didn’t receive any notification that I had been chosen.
This isn’t the first gift I’ve gotten from Google. While technically this isn’t a gift, the fact that it was free and that only select individuals snagged one puts me in the “gift” mindset. About a month earlier, one of the new Logitech Revues showed up on my doorstep, and at 2010’s Google IO I was given a Motorola Droid and an HTC Evo 4G.
I’ve been logging bugs while using the laptop, and am happy with how simple and well thought-out the laptop is. One of the first things that bothered me was the Mac-like mouse gestures. I worked on a Mac for a few weeks and enjoyed the mouse gestures, but the CR-48’s implementation is just a little off.
There are two things that I’ve had to get relearn while using the laptop. First, there is no side scrolling using two fingers. Second, the two finger right-click often gets interpreted as a left-click. This makes opening a link in a new tab much more cumbersome. I have since become acquainted with Ctrl-clicking on links to open in a new window. While the keyboard shortcut is faster, having to be “retrained” is less than ideal.
The designers of the laptop made some large changes to the accepted keyboard layouts. They removed the traditional Caps Lock key (hiding it functionality behind a toggle in the Chrome OS settings) and replaced it with a Search button. This is different from the Logitech Revue keyboard, which used the system-dependent key location for the search button (for example, replacing the Windows key/Apple key with the Search key).
Another thing to notice is the lack of wired Ethernet connection. The laptop requires network connections to come through the air, whether using Verizon 3G or WiFi. The current release does not support certificate-based WiFi, so I am unable to test it on our main wireless network at work.
Also, it may just be the layout of my house, but when I’m in bed using the notebook the WiFi signal is very weak. To conserve battery, when the laptop goes to sleep it powers down the WiFi hardware. This means that even though the device is advertised of having a 10-second boot up time, there is another 10 seconds or more of waiting for the wireless access to be negotiated.
The battery life on the laptop is great. I can charge it to 100% and use it over the course of two days without recharging. The downside comes in how aggressive the device is in conserving battery. For example, the device shuts off the screen if the mouse hasn’t been moved in around 10 minutes. This makes watching a movie online quite cumbersome, as I have to keep moving the mouse to preempt the screen from shutting off.
With those minor caveats aside, the laptop is really great. It is light and super portable, and I’m looking forward to getting more out of it and will update here later with more experiences.