Google CR-48 netbook (preview)
Google CR-48 Chrome review: Google's prototype Chrome OS computer delivers little more than the company's browser in a box.
- Google CR-48's minimalism isn't necessarily a bad thing
- You're at the mercy of your 3G provider
Try this: shut down every application on your PC except for Google Chrome. Maximise the Chrome window. Voila! You're now looking at an amazing facsimile of Chrome OS. Add a few apps from the Chrome App Store and the resemblance will be exact.
What's most striking about the Google CR-48, the company's proof-of-concept Chrome laptop, is just how little there is to it. It's really just the Google Chrome web browser in a flat black box. There's no desktop, a rudimentary file system that you can't access directly and virtually nothing else that can't run in a browser.
So is the Google CR-48 worth all the fuss? Here's our Google Chrome netbook review.
CR-48: Google Chrome OS on a laptop
Let's start with the operating system. Curious about Chrome OS? Try this: shut down every application on your PC except for Google Chrome. Maximise the Chrome window. Voila! You're now looking at an amazing facsimile of Chrome OS. Add a few apps from the Chrome App Store and the resemblance will be exact.
Google CR-48: Why the wait?
The Google CR-48's minimalism isn't necessarily a bad thing and some people may quite like it. The same could be said for Google Chrome OS. But this does raise the question: What's taking so long? If Chrome OS is really just a stripped-down version of Linux (as it appears to be) whose main responsibility is simply to run a browser, why should it take about two years between the announcement of the OS and the appearance of commercial laptops that run it?
It's hard to believe that the holdup of the Google CR-48 is down to the complexity of Chrome Apps. Many that I've used are simply smart bookmarks that deliver you to a web page; in some cases, they deliver you to a service like Gmail without having to log in. That's useful, but doesn't seem like a major coding achievement.
Others, such as the New York Times app, deliver an experience you can't get solely through the website. But that experience won't come as much of a surprise to anyone who's used the Times app on other platforms such as Google Android or Apple iOS.
Google CR-48: Pre-loaded apps
Our Google CR-48 notebook came with nine apps already installed: a 'getting started' tour of the notebook; two games, Entanglement and Poppit; links to Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Talk and the Chrome Web Store; and a rudimentary note-taking app called Scratchpad. Scratchpad has the distinction of being the only app of the bunch that clearly stores files on the CR-48 itself. (The Google CR-48 notebook comes with a solid state drive, but Google hasn't revealed how big it is.)
You can type out short notes in Scratchpad on the Google CR-48 and the app will automatically store them locally and, in theory, sync them to your Google Docs account if you wish. My notes never showed up in my Google Docs account, though.
While there is a file system on the Google CR-48, you can only access it under special circumstances. There's no equivalent of Windows Explorer to let you view and manage your files. Instead, you can find them only when Google Chrome OS decides you need to. Scratchpad files, for instance, you can find only through the app itself.
When I went to the online photo-editing site Picnik and clicked the Upload File button, a window popped up that showed a number of folders with the kinds of names you'd see on most Linux machines - root, var, lib, and so on. That allowed me to upload a file I'd earlier downloaded from Google Image search, but I would have had a hard time finding it without search - there's no obvious organisation for where files are kept.
The only way to make changes to your CR-48 system is through the Settings menu in the Chrome browser. That's where you'll monitor your internet access and make changes to network settings, manage user accounts and the like.
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 LG V50 ThinQ 5G review: Two bad
- 2 Oppo Reno 5G review: Big Deal
- 3 Huawei P30 review: How badly do you need a headphone jack?
- 4 Moto G7 Plus review: Better where it counts
- 5 TP-Link Deco M4 review: Expansion pack
Latest News Articles
- How much do the new MacBook Air and Macbook Pro cost in Australia?
- Apple recalls older MacBook Pro over fire risk
- Google is bringing consumer-grade Chromebooks back to Australia
- Computex 2019: MSI squeezed an i9 into their GT76 gaming laptop
- Computex 2019: Acer's Concept D7 laptops seem like a perfect fit for NVIDIA's Studio laptop initiative
PCW Evaluation Team
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
- Save The Date: The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is being announced on August 7
- Everything you need to know before you buy a 5G phone in Australia
- Oppo Reno 5G review: Big Deal
- Everything you need to know about Smart TVs
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?