Google Cr-48 Chrome Netbook Full Review

Boot Up

Google promised that its operating system would boot very quickly and our tests indicate that, while it is quick to start up, the Cr-48 isn’t the fastest we’ve seen. From hitting the power button to reaching the login prompt was about 15 seconds. However, then you must select your user account (it shows you a list of profiles) and enter your password or click guest and wait a few more seconds for everything to appear. All told, with typing and clicking, this process takes about another 10 seconds for a total of 25 seconds. The latest MacBook Airs let you start working in 15 seconds.

User Interface

The first thing you’ll notice when you enter Chrome OS is that there’s no desktop, no Start Menu or dock, and no task bar. All you see is the Chrome browser, which opens with a list of your installed web apps and Chrome extensions and two menus that list Most visited and Recently closed sites. By default, the preloaded apps are Get Started (a set of instructions), Entanglement (a puzzle game), Poppit ( a casual game where you pop balloons), Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Talk, YouTube, and Web Store, which allows you to install more apps.

None of these apps actually lives on the PC; they’re all either bookmarks to URLs you could just visit by typing into the address bar or extensions that also live on the web. You can get thousands more apps by going to Google’s web store, though there’s no way to simply add your own custom shortcuts to the empty tab page. However, if you have bookmarks, you’ll see a few in a bar above the apps.

In the upper right corner of the screen sit the system clock, wireless bars, and a battery indicator. If you have your Cr-48 configured to allow multiple languages, a menu for choosing the input language appears between the clock and the wireless bar status.

You can’t do a lot to customize the look and feel of the OS, but you can download Chrome themes from Google’s web store, which will change both the color of the tabs and address bar area and the background that appears in new tabs.

Because there’s no desktop behind it, you can’t minimize, maximize, or resize the browser window, nor can you view two browser windows next to each other. You can drag tabs around and, should you hit Ctrl + N or click a link that spawns a new window, you’ll be transported to another screen where that window will also take up the full area. There’s no compelling need to create new windows rather than tabs, but should you wish to work with multiple windows, you can switch back and forth between them by either hitting ALT + Tab or the change windows button on the keyboard.

While you are in one browser window there is no indicator to let you know that other windows exist. Even when you change windows, you are simply shuffled off to the next window, rather than given a menu that shows you how many windows are open and what they contain.

Pop-Ups (The Good Kind)

Though you can’t have multiple full browser windows on the screen at the same time, small mini-windows can appear on top of the main one. The best example of a mini window like this is Google Talk, which can float around the bottom of the screen while you visit other web sites in the main window. Another example we encountered is the player window from Napster.com, which must remain open in order to play music while you work.

Interestingly, you can’t drag these mini windows up on the screen but you can slide them around horizontally or drag them down until they sink below the bottom of the screen, so only a tiny non-descript gray line sits at the bottom of your display to remind you there’s a window buried there somewhere. Google needs to do a much better job of handling these mini windows as it updates Chrome OS.



Google Cr-48 Chrome Netbook Full Review

AUTHOR BIO
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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  1. Maurice Says:

    Nice review. Just playing with my own Chrome notebook received yesterday.
    You mention that you don’t kow what Atom CPU is in the device. I found the information by accident whilst submitting a bug report. It is a N455 @ 1.66GHz.

    I fact a lot of interesting system and debug information can be found by pointing the browser to chrome://system/

  2. tcn Says:

    It’s definately going to be interesting as to whether Chrome OS is going to be a threat to the other currently operating systems (particularly Windows 7)… personally I think Windows will prevail, but who knows.

  3. Robert Says:

    Just an update about the webcam that I learned from using my own cr-48. You have to go to adobe flash settings manager page and set allow always exceptions to get the webcam to work for apps like picmequick and facebook.

  4. Evan Says:

    Instead of going to “walk over to your nearest non-Chrome OS device, visit Google.com…”, you can simply sign into guest mode and do it through there. That’s part of the reason its there, after all.

  5. Ezequiel Gonzalez Says:

    Eventually a Windows PC will be one among many computing devices, and one among many Internet access devices. There will be plenty of choices and plenty of devices. Most of them will be powered by a variation of linux/bsd/freeUnix operating system. It is cheaper for the developers and manufacturers that way, less paperwork and less restrictions on what they can do. Microsoft will not die away, but will no longer dominate the market like they did during the desktop era.

  6. Aj Says:

    Its too bad that the CR-48 is not being offered in India. I am ready to go for it even if a thousand people say that it makes no sense. There is something about the Chrome OS philosophy that makes sense. We are sitting with expensive bricks without the internet anyways…

    What ive read in many reviews already is the fact that using the Cr-48 feels like using a maximized Chrome browser window on *any* OS. Maybe google should consider turning the experience into a typical desktop experience? Take the feeling away from a user that he/she is being *confined* to a window and that there is something *outside* of that window that he/she is being stopped from accessing…..

    maybe we should see the chrome as a a two part system, a borderless mother tab that acts as a desktop and any number of windowed sibling tabs that would let it work like a traditional desktop OS.

  7. David Soh Says:

    Actually, you can use chronos account in terminal. (You can open terminal by press Ctrl + Alt + t, after that enter “shell”)
    The account can help you organize your file, copy file from the Downloas folder to your pendrive and vice versa. But you must have root permission, I dont have cr 48 so I dont how to get it, but in chromium os, you can use “sudo su”to switch to root account. Chrome OS/Chromium OS is a Linux distribution and the GUI is base on gtk (I guess). If you have used Ubuntu before, and you will know how to “hack”(just mean advanced tips ) chrome os.

    P.S. Sorry for my poor english, My mother tongue is Chinese.

  8. smee Says:

    Google has directions on how to install an alternate OS here:

    https://sites.google.com/a/chromium.org/dev/chromium-os/developer-information-for-chrome-os-devices/cr-48-chrome-notebook-developer-information/how-to-boot-ubuntu-on-a-cr-48

    You can use the same directions to install any linux distribution onto the cr-48. I have Arch Linux installed on mine and it runs very well. I installed flash player 10.2 beta, and youtube videos play smoother than on chrome os.

  9. gary Says:

    how do i turn on camera to do video chat with a friend?

  10. Justin Reed Says:

    Well, I have loved it so far, and it is built well.
    First of all, mine is pretty beaten up because my jacka** dad and I got in a fight and he threw it. The hinges are starting to come apart, and it doesn’t close quite right, but it still works just fine now. Also, when it is open, the screen is just as sturdy as it was before and looks fine when I am using it. It really is a little bit heavy for its size, but it is also very durable.

    So far so good!

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