Final Words

The move to ARM doesn't fundamentally change the performance or usability of the Chromebook. It's still a slow (relative to more expensive notebooks), limited use notebook. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but you need to be aware of what you're getting into with this thing.

The display is functional but not very good. Build quality is decent but the new Chromebook is still a plastic notebook. Thankfully the keyboard and trackpad are both pretty decent.

For a basic web browsing and glorified typewriter platform, the Chromebook really does get the job done. It's a very focused, simple device that serves its purpose well. I don't know how big the Chromebook niche is, but Google has targeted it very well. At $249 if you need a physical keyboard and only need basic web browsing support, I don't know that there's a better solution. As an almost-disposable notebook for writing and browsing the web, I'm happy with the Chromebook. Good ultraportables are much more expensive, and even low cost PCs don't come with any sort of solid state storage. Admittedly the eMMC solution in the Chromebook isn't setting any records, but it does deliver consistent IO performance which is more than I can say for a cheap 5400 RPM 2.5" hard drive. 

Ultimately the Chromebook puts pressure on the traditional PC notebook ecosystem from below. Tablets have been doing that for a while but they are a physically different form factor. For those who still want a traditional notebook form factor, there hasn't been much low-cost competition. The Chromebook applies a good amount of pressure there. Compared to a $1000 notebook, the Chromebook's display isn't great but move down into the $500 - $700 range and it doesn't look all that bad thanks to many PC makers failing to invest in good quality panels. If a $249 Chromebook delivers a competitive keyboard, trackpad, display resolution and quality experience to your $499 PC notebook, it's time for a change. With Apple pushing at the top and Google working the bottom, the hope is that the entire PC notebook stack gets better.

On the SoC side, our first look at ARM's Cortex A15 is quite positive from a performance standpoint. I'm still not convinced on its power consumption for smartphone use (big.LITTLE must exist for a reason) but from a performance standpoint, it's going to make current smartphone/tablet SoCs feel very slow. And that's something we can all look forward to in 2013.

Battery Life & Power Analysis
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  • iwod - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    Both Atom and Sandy /Ivy Bridge uses 4 thread compared to 2 threads the Cortex A15 uses. A better comparison would be a Quad Core A15. Which free the Core from doing other work in a Single Threaded Benchmarks and better illustrate mutithreaded performance.

    The A50 will offer 20 - 30% performance increase compared to A15 at 32 bit and further improvement at 64bit mode. This, with higher frequency and Quad Core or Hex Core will surely bridge the gap between everyday Laptop and a Chromebook.
    Reply
  • Krysto - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    It doesn't matter. HT is pretty gimmicky anyway. You can maybe 10% improvement in performance.

    Don't forget A57 will not just have better IPC than A15, but will also go to higher clock speeds - up to 3 Ghz, actually. A quad core A57 chip at 3 Ghz will be more than enough performance for most people, while having very good battery life.
    Reply
  • nishantmohan - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    "Plugging the Chromebook into a relatively modern (~2 year old) Samsung LED backlit LCD HTDV caused the Chromebook to reboot itself."

    i dont know why but I burst into laughter when i saw this....
    Reply
  • legoman666 - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    Any word on the ship date for the 3g version? I preordered one on Amazon on the 19th, no word on ship date and I can't find one mentioned anywhere. Reply
  • TrackSmart - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    I opened this page and got taken here: http://testables.net/d/juicyru.com

    I'm guessing this is not what you guys agreed to regarding what advertisements on your site can do. Here's the brilliant message you get:

    CONGRATULATIONS!
    You've been selected from the [MY STATE] region to take part in our annual visitor survey.
    This will only take 30 seconds of your time and will enhance user experience. Upon completion you will have the opportunity to get a iPad or iPad Mini, a $1000 Best Buy Card , or a $1,000 Visa Gift Card.
    Reply
  • Mumrik - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    "PC notebooks that still struggled with the same virus/malware issues they'd been facing for years"

    That comment had me confused. Is he talking about the crap companies put onto their non-business notebooks or did I miss some sort of virus/malware hell in 2010 that somehow later got solved?
    Reply
  • yannigr - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    This could be better, but it is ok
    I have seen worst than this
    What did you expect with so low price
    This does not work but let's see something else that works
    And here it is a USB 3.0 that works as a slow USB 2.0, and here it is a slot that it is not a slot but a hole

    More or less this is what I was reading in this article. So you pay $249 and you buy a very light machine with overall poor quality and an OS that it is very limited in what you can do with it. And only 6 hour battery time?
    Better buy a netbook, tablet or a second hand laptop for that price.
    Reply
  • koss - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    "Note that the previous Atom solution required two chips: the N570 and its NM10 Express PCH. The !!! -= N570 =- !!! had a 2.1W TDP and was used for all IO, while the N570 and its two Atom cores needed about 8.5W. "

    I guess that is the NM10 actually? Otherwise it makes no sense, to me at least.
    I keep reading and loved the expression that "ARM is the new AMD", perhaps we should call them "ARMeD", since they are in the same boat now.
    Reply
  • owned66 - Saturday, November 03, 2012 - link

    put ubuntu on it = win Reply
  • runeks - Monday, November 05, 2012 - link

    Anyone care to take a guess on how much this device would retail for if it included a battery with 50% or 100% more capacity? That would be a 45 or 60 Whr battery, respectively. I think it would fairly useful to be able to pull 9 hours from a single charge. Reply

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