When the Netbook first came to market it kick-started the mass production of a new generation of laptop computers. Consumers suddenly released that they wanted or needed an extremely small, portable machine for basic computing on the move and key to the Netbooks success was its pricing; for under £300, consumers could carry out all familiar computing tasks on a 7-inch or 11-inch display and still have enough money left over to take the kids for some ice cream.
Whilst portability and pricing were key features to the Netbooks success however its major downside as a product was its power, or more specifically what it had under the hood. Netbooks were not blisteringly fast machines by any stretch of the imagination and all of them (minus a few select offerings) ran Windows 7, an operating system that whilst consumers lived with day in and day out, was not so fun to interact with. When touch screen smartphones and touch screen tablet computers surfaced, then, the excitement for Netbooks was completely overshadowed by a new and fascinating way for people to access and consume content online; apps.
We have Apple to thank for creating the app revolution with their release of the App Store alongside the original iPhone way back in 2007. Utilizing just mobile internals (low powered CPU’s) and an internet connection, smartphones were suddenly perfectly capable enough to carry out a platter of tasks will utter ease, and tasks which would take longer on a computer. Checking e-mail, adding a post to blog, playing a game; the combination of being able to touch and interact with all of these tasks ensured that by 2010 when the iPad was released, Netbooks were a declining breed of machine and the same can also be said for the PC market on the whole.
Google played a huge role in driving customers towards mobile devices as opposed to desktop based products, too. With the Android operating system at their finger tips, Google utilized their open-source software to their full advantage and allowed multiple hardware manufacturers to also built smartphones and tablet computers running it. Both Apple and Google now have two incredibly stable eco-systems where which product is better (the iPhone or an Android handset) is generally determined by what services or eco-system a consumer is most tied in to. This leads me on to the Chromebook, and why it could be a perfect laptop computer for some.
A ‘Chromebook’ is quite simply a laptop computer like any other which features a display up top, a proper keyboard to type on and a clamshell design to protect these components. Where this product differs from a normal laptop or Ultrabook however is the software it runs. A Chromebook runs Chrome OS, which is a Linux-based operating system design by Google to work exclusively with web applications. Unlike a traditional operating system, Chrome OS’s features are 90% most effective with an internet connection because a lot of your work will be carried out within the Chrome web browser. If that doesn’t make sense to you, let me throw some products at you:
Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, Google Analytics, Google Drive, Google Maps, Google Earth, iGoogle, Google Docs. These are just some of the many services which Google offers and when on a computer you access all of them through the internet. Chrome OS is designed to specifically target the Internet generation, where life activities such as work and play are seamlessly integrated. The idea behind this operating system comes from the fact that web browsing takes up most of one’s computer time. If we are spending so much time on the web, why not make it the focus of computing? Chrome OS is an attempt to transform your local computer into a global entity, active and fully connected.
With Google Services and products being so tightly integrated in to Chrome OS, then, a Chromebook would be an ideal secondary laptop computer for anybody who is tied in to the Google Ecosystem.
Now Google understands that for any new operating system – especially one which may appear so odd to many consumers – to be successful they need the hardware to back it up. Very recently Google announced their new Chromebook starting at just £229 which is manufactured by Samsung. This is an absolute bargain of a price for a machine which offers incredibly speedy computing and fully integrated access to all Google services. The £229 laptop is just 0.8-inches (20mm) thin and it weighs only 2.43 pounds (1.1kg). It features an 11.6-inch matte display set at a resolution of 1366 x 768 and comes with 16GB of internal SSD storage.
Google’s latest Chromebook release signifies a large step in the direction for consumer technology on the whole; Android smartphones are consistently affordable, the Nexus 7 tablet is incredibly affordable, and now (almost) traditional computing with a real keyboard is affordable all under the Google brand.
If you are looking for an affordable laptop computer which will match your Android tablet and Android powered smartphone, then, a Chromebook could be perfect for you. Quite simply, these machines are filling a gap which Ultrabooks simply cannot fill at the moment in terms of what you get for the price, and that coupled with the Google generation and a lot of people relying on Google Services for almost everything means that the Chromebook whichever way you look at it is here to stay for a good few years to come. The questions is, will you buy one?