Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Google CR-48

Today I was asked my opinion on my CR-48 ChromeOS netbook to help with a purchasing decision for a Chromebook.  I thought I'd share my thoughts of having used it for the last 6 months.

I have a plethora of devices including most of the Maemo family (just missing the n800), some netbooks I got free through various (legal) means, and my desktop.

Whenever I am out and am needing something bigger than a handheld, I rarely choose something other than my CR-48.  This is because most of what I use are the various Google web apps and I can limp along on other use cases that don't fit in as well.  As an example, my CR-48 leaves the house once a week for my church meetings to assist me in my current responsibilities which is facilitating administrative matters so our congregational leaders get to focus more on assisting people.  An example of when I might chose another device is when I travel to various Maemo/MeeGo events where I'd want something that is a bit more prepared for python development.

The other main use of my CR-48 is what I'll refer to as opportunistic internet usage.  What I am referring to is the reduction in friction when having the thoughts "Oh, I'd like to look up ..." or "I should record ... so I don't forget" enough that you will act upon that thought more often.  This is when I am sitting about the apartment (or out and about) and my phone isn't quite enough to satisfy my need.  This is something harder to quantify when doing comparisons so it is usually not even thought of.  A tablet could also serve this purpose well except they are pricier and don't have a physical keyboard.

With any netbook you have to be honest with yourself about the reduced functionality due to their design, it is just more so the case for the CR-48 as you only have access to a web browser.  This can have some benefits though.  I remember an observation made to me back in the days of PalmOS.  My father preferred PalmOS because it wasn't imitating the desktop.  Why is that good?  When the imitation is too close you are more likely to get frustrated at the gaps when you come across them, sort of an uncanny valley of features.

So what devices should someone have?  It depends on your use case.  I've generally been a person who has preferred a cheap portable with the work horse being their desktop.  This has the benefit of being less paranoid about the portable device and making it easier to replace it when needed combined with the cost savings of a desktops (especially when you go 6 years without replacing them).  It is hard to say what I would get myself when left to my own devices (pun intended) since so many of my devices have been free.

ps If you are reading this and dream of robbing me, look further at the specs, release dates, and niche role of the various devices I listed.  It won't be worth it.