Chromebook a low-end hit

Just when you thought netbooks were dead, Google’s Chromebook has become the “fastest-growing part of the PC industry” in its price range, reports Bloomberg News, quoting market research firm NPD. Chromebooks have in just the past eight months snagged 20 percent to 25 percent of the U.S. market for laptops that cost less than $300… READ THE REST

I love when someone is talking about a new and absolutely tiny niche market as “fastest growing!” Yes, if you sold 50 laptops last year and 60 this year, that’s a huge 20% growth rate, but still nobody actually cares about your product.

I expect to see a lot of Chromebooks on Woot in a few years, after retailers get tired of seeing them sit on the shelves, just like how there was a huge flow of netbooks through there, and even now they pop up from time to time.

That’s also why the majority of laptops you see on there have at least one deadly flaw that made them such dismal performers in the marketplace. Hideously low resolution screens is the most common flaw.


Don’t underestimate the potential of this thing. Huge numbers of users do not need or want the capabilities of a “real” computer, nor do schools and businesses want to maintain “real” computers.

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I purchased a chromebook two months ago and I both love it and hate it. I basically use computers to write reports and things for school and to surf so the chromebook is pretty good for that. Some problems with ChromeOS are that most downloads for programs are only available for Windows and Apple OS, so I can’t download things like Tor or projecthawkthorne on my computer. I have sent emails to both program directors to create a version for ChromeOS, so hopefully that will happen. I agree that the chromebook isn’t exactly a huge success, mostly because the offline abilities are reported to suck. I think that they’re great and they work exactly how I want and expect them to. All in all, it’s a pretty good little machine for someone in school who wants a fast computer for everyday tasks.

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How different is ChromeOS from more ‘vanilla’ Linux distros? Could you use the plain old Linux Tor browser bundle?

ChromeOS is meant to be browser only. If you can’t do it in Chrome, you can’t do it. It’s explained here.

(it’s a pretty crippled OS. You probably don’t want to use it as your sole computer if you want to be a real user.)

I’m slightly puzzled by the “avoid Windows” bit. ISTM that there’s plenty of mileage in a netbook with a 11.6’’ (1366x768) display and win7 home premium. The real problem here is win7/8 starter and 1024*600 screens.

Can you play a music collection stored on a home NAS? Because I think the answer is no or not without great difficulty which makes ChromeOS feel a bit pointless to me.

Well, that depends, I can play my music collection from home home NAS, but my NAS (a Synology) provides a web interface for playing music stored on it, so…

Though I mostly don’t use that as I sync all of my music to Google Play.

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No problems playing music off a NAS. It’ll happily play your itunes stuff as well with google play manager.

My wife got a samsung with verizon 3G card a few months ago to use as the pool/summer vacation PC. So far the only real limitation she has had is screen sharing for client training sessions. Obviously if her company didn’t use google docs for everything that wouldn’t be the case.

FWIW - chromebooks are very quickly supporting standard linux distros.
The ChrUbuntu will install various linuces on a chromebook

Lots of activity in the space -

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While I haven’t played with the Acer:
11.6" 1366 x 768 screen
2G memory, 16G SSD
3lbs, 1" thick

For $50 more the thinner, lighter samsung really has nothing wrong with it. The keyboard is decent and the trackpad better than any window laptop I’ve used (though not as good as my macbook pro).

Just about the most crippled computer money can buy…

You can use crouton ( ) to set up chroot environment and run a regular linux distro in parallel with chrome os; as in you don’t even have to reboot to go into linux. You could for example start a torrent download in ubuntu, go back to chrome os to do some web browsing, and your download would keep running in the background.

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I am currently on a Chromebook and this thing is amazing. I’ve had it for over six months and am pleased as punch, even alongside by beefy desktop computer and the sexy tablet. The Chromebook is excellent for web browsing, emails, Google Docs (and the like - SkyDrive if you’re still somehow a Microsoft fan), et cetera. Plus it has a ridiculously long battery life, no fan noise, and weighs less than my previous Toshiba netbook. 8-second bootup, no viruses, no setup required, always updated. It’s exactly what it should be.

I don’t stream torrents, I don’t use Linux, I don’t need to do graphic design or run heavy-duty software or anything of the sort on this machine. I have other machines for that stuff. This machine is for reading BoingBoing in bed at night and posting long comments without wrestling with a damn tablet keyboard, and for that this thing gets an A+.

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Does she use the screenshare mode in google hangouts? The only time I’ve seen it used is by artists showing how they draw/sketch.

I have one of the original prototypes and it’s been a great vacation computer, I just stopped using it because the hinge broke (thanks alot Delta, grr). I would recommend one over getting a tablet of any kind.

Ah, ok. In my brief experience with ChromeOS (with Android too) doing a mount of the NAS to make it look like local storage seemed to be awkward, but perhaps it’s better now. Copying everything to Google Play Music in the cloud is a problem as it takes forever and I’ll hit the limits. And Google still can’t reliably import playlists. The media server and DNLA on the NAS is all a bit naff. There’s usually ways round this stuff, but all I really want is to run Winamp or Amarok/Clementine against a library sitting on a network drive. That still seems to end up being a touchstone for the limitations of pure cloud computing and relatively dumb OS/hardware. If you can’t mount a drive and run a local music player against it, there’ll be other similar issues as well. One of the latest is Google dropping Latitude and replacing it with location sharing in Maps. Except that it’s only in the Android app and not in the web interface (for now) with iOS promised. So a Chromebook can’t play yet either despite it being obviously portable.

So, I like the hardware and cheapness, but want a real OS. So I guess I should just load one!

I for one think that it is great news that there is a interesting alternative OS to Windows and OSX which doesn’t require a lot of computer expertise. ChromeOS devices also tackle some of the big computing issues of the day (long boot up times, regular updates and poor battery life) without breaking the bank. I don’t have a Chromebook (because I don’t need one) but would get one if I didn’t already have tools that did this job.

I’ve seen Chromebooks mentioned as very good computers for parents, and other people who aren’t that confident with computers, and only really want to do some web browsing, emailing pictures of the grand kids and maybe light word processing.
As they’re so locked down, it’ll really cut down on the number of support calls you’ll get, and they do their few jobs very well.
The only downside is, for the cost I can just buy a second hand laptop, stick a small SSD in, and either install the OSS ChromOS, or some lite version of Ubuntu or similar.

Ah, I’m playing my NAS over http and not as a local drive. Looks like the emit app does the trick for netbios/etc. haven’t tried it yet.

She likely could use G+, Adobe or some other web-based screensharing, but her company uses skype for IM, voice/video conferencing and screensharing client demos. Only the IM bit works on chromeos. I need to make the time to set up a linux boot with full skype client for her.