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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  • jeffkro - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    You do realize there is a higher end chromebook that runs on a ULV celeron cpu right. If you want better specs it is available. Reply
  • jeffkro - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    The celeron runs windows pretty fast so you know its lighting fast for chrome OS. Reply
  • agnar150 - Saturday, November 03, 2012 - link

    You could not be more wrong. The OS structure is inherently more secure and it is very much more secure than Windows. Reply
  • Wolfpup - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    How is Windows not safe? I've been using it how long now? Decades? And had exactly zero security intrusions. Being the market leader so you're a big target doesn't mean the platform is less safe-in fact Microsoft takes security a lot more seriously than most closed source software does.

    As for this unit...it remains ridiculous. I bought a $200 Acer running real Windows 7 on AMD hardware, and it's obviously a bajillion times more functional. This thing runs one single program-Chrome, on low end hardware, doesn't properly support external displays or other devices, can't replace my real PC for...much of anything, and it actually costs as much or more than superior devices...just like the older Chromebooks did.
    Reply
  • epobirs - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    Utter nonsense. There are tons of options for locking down Windows the average consumer doesn't bother with but the information is widely available. Just a few changes makes it far harder for malware to get any value from the machine.

    The difference is that you still have the full capabilities of Windows and its software library, along with a choice of browsers, including Google Chrome.

    The people I know who do serious online financial work wouldn't blink at spending a lot more than $250 to pay someone like me to teach them to lock down their machine for work. Putting up with the limitations of Chrome OS and paying for the privilege would strike them as absurd.
    Reply
  • UltraTech79 - Friday, November 16, 2012 - link

    "People that do online investing and banking with significant assets" have better options than shitty chrome OS or standard windows. Ridiculous. Reply
  • ddriver - Wednesday, January 09, 2013 - link

    Have you actually checked the chrome store? there are plenty of good applications, especially concerning productivity, surely, the overall number of apps is much lower than android, but considering most of those are useless, it is not that big of a deal. You can do plenty of stuff on the chromebook, and that that price point it is a very good bargain. Reply
  • Flunk - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    No, honestly it doesn't. If you need a keyboard you buy one of the ASUS Transformer pads. This is a very limited device that won't get you very far and really doesn't have a reason for existing. If this was just a laptop-like device running android I could see the utility but Chrome OS is basically just a kneecapped version of android. Reply
  • jeffkro - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Its kneecapped for security, their is a reason for it. Reply
  • klmccaughey - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    I would totally agree with this if there was an android with a keyboard and this hardware at this price point. The transformer is good, but it's far too expensive.

    I got an Ipad 2 by accident, and between that and the laptop I don't think I need anything else. I hate Apple, which makes the whole experience confusing.
    Reply

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