Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Does the Google Chromebook make sense?

Personal computers have evolved into highly portable forms such as laptops, notebooks and tablets. Even sub-tablets like the Galaxy and smart phones like the HTC EVO rival the power and capabilities of  the desk top computers of only a few years ago. All these devices have one thing in common; local processing, memory and storage abilities which allow them to work standalone.

Google recently introduced a new portable device called the Chromebook with a very different approach. The Chromebook itself only runs what is essentially an internet browser. It has no local applications and stores almost no data on the device. It depends entirely on the internet with all of your applications and data stored in the cloud.

From the owner's perspective the this model offers a number of interesting and attractive features. The device has been optimized to start in under 10 seconds. It is self maintaining and self healing. It is virtually impervious to malware, but should the device be corrupted in any way, you simply turn it off and back on to boot up with a fresh, clean copy of the OS. If you leave it in the back of a taxi or drop it in the pool, you lose nothing (apart from the device itself) because none of your data or applications are on it. You never have to back it up or transfer your information to another device.

It is an IT managers dream as it can be deployed with no installation or maintenance required. It will never have to be rebuilt. Security is not compromised if an employee's device is accessed or stolen. It is small, light, attractive and affordable.

Now, in the US and other parts of the world, the internet is almost ubiquitous. But some of us who travel frequently by plane, train or subway or who live in remote, suburban communities may find this device challenging to use. Moreover, internet connections and the services we use are not always totally reliable.

For now, I think I will stick with the traditional personal computer. Besides, I never recommend anything I haven't tried personally. So, unless Google wants to send me an evaluation unit I can't say much more.

How about it, Larry?

Captain Joe

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