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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  • Krysto - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    Which is going to be another year, by which point Android tablets will be on to the next-gen hardware. Reply
  • name99 - Sunday, November 04, 2012 - link

    You have an odd definition of awesome.

    "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."

    Add in HDMI that doesn't work, a weird slot that isn't connected to anything, and the various other hassles described and I'm not sure exactly what the awesome here is.
    Reply
  • Andhaka - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Seems a nice machine on paper, but I don't really know how much I would trust an "always online" Google machine with my data.

    Seems too much of a trade off.

    Cheers
    Reply
  • coder543 - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Because I'm sure that your secrets are personally being observed by Google since they're just ever so valuable. That's the only reasonable line of reasoning.

    /sarcasm

    They're just happy to make advertising revenue off of you, and since you'll likely use Google from whatever machine you have, it won't make much difference to not use this one. Also consider that if you were doing something highly sensitive, you could always walk over and turn on your computer, assuming you trust it, especially if you have Windows. I'd be less inclined to trust the good will of the parasites lurking around on there.
    Reply
  • coder543 - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    turn on your regular* computer
    /typo fixed
    Reply
  • Andhaka - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Actually I work with a lot of NDA stuff (translations mostly) so yes, I really have a lot of secret stuff on my computer. ;) And believe me when I say I don't use google for ANYTHING on my work related projects. :)

    And the problem is not google per se, but having a machine that's not really usable if not online. I'm not sure, but I think there's no choice for editing text apart from Google Docs?

    This is not an objective opinion. It's rather my personal view of this kind of machines. I'd like a super lightweight portable laptop, but not one that's tied hands and feet to an online service.

    Just MY two cents. :)
    Reply
  • jamyryals - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    I'm pretty sure they support offline Google docs using a local disc cache. Still though, I'm pretty sure we are not the target for this platform. Reply
  • Andhaka - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Exactly what I was saying. For my kind of work it's not a viable solution. :) Reply
  • chrnochime - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    So what do you use at work instead of Google then? Curious because AFAIK all other search engines do the same as Google... Reply
  • Andhaka - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    That's the point. For really important NDA stuff we don't use search engines, AT ALL. :)
    I can connect to a company server with extensive documentation to serch for specific infromation on the project I'm working on (usually given to us by the committent), but I cannot really access Google or Bing and search for things i need.

    For lesser project we use a company issued google profile for searches but no online document manipolation is allowed, meaning no Google Docs, Office Online, Dropbox, iCloud or anything similar. We have company online storage and we use VPN connections with tokens to generate the cyphers needed to connect. I cannot even send work files via email even if our email server is phisically based in our campus. :)

    They take security very seriously where I work. ;)

    Cheers
    Reply

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