Up in the clouds

A new type of com­puter pledges to save us from soft­ware ‘‘tor­ture’’, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley-Ni­chol­son

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Gadgets -

IT’S a new type of lap­top that prom­ises to start in eight sec­onds, run all day, elim­i­nate viruses and make trou­ble­some soft­ware in­stal­la­tions ob­so­lete. It is also de­signed to in­tro­duce cloud com­put­ing to users who have never heard the term.

It is called the Google Chrome­book and it will ar­rive in Aus­tralia be­fore the end of the year.

But tech­nol­ogy ex­perts ques­tion whether there is space in the crowded com­put­ing mar­ket for a fur­ther com­puter hy­brid, and whether Aus­tralians have the broad­band speed, con­fi­dence and de­sire to store all their most pre­cious dig­i­tal items with an in­ter­net com­pany.

Google un­veiled the Chrome­book this month, with co-founder Sergey Brin call­ing it a way to out­source per­sonal com­puter main­te­nance.

‘‘ The com­plex­ity of man­ag­ing your com­puter is tor­tur­ing users,’’ Brin says.

‘‘ It’s a flawed model fun­da­men­tally. Chrome­books are a new model that doesn’t put the bur­den of man­ag­ing your com­puter on your­self.’’

The net­book looka­likes will ini­tially be made by Sam­sung and Acer, with a model from each launch­ing in the US on June 15 and later in Aus­tralia. They will be priced be­tween about $330 and $474.

Both will fea­ture 12-inch screens, long-life bat­ter­ies (six to 8.5 hours), dual-core pro­ces­sors, USB ports, wi-fi and op­tional 3G net con­nec­tions, and will weigh less than 1.5kg.

But it’s what they won’t have that will sep­a­rate Chrome­books from net­books — a full-size op­er­at­ing sys­tem is miss­ing.

Chrome­books will in­stead fea­ture light­weight, Google­made Chrome OS soft­ware based on Linux.

The lack of bulky soft­ware will help the com­puter to run quickly, boot­ing in un­der eight sec­onds and restart­ing quickly af­ter you re­lift its lid.

Fur­ther­more, rather than in­stalling pro­grams and adding data, users will em­ploy on­line ser­vices and store their doc­u­ments, pho­tos, videos and more in ‘‘ the cloud’’.

In­stead of us­ing Out­look or Eu­dora email pro­grams, for in­stance, they will use Gmail. Rather than cre­at­ing doc­u­ments in Microsoft Word, they will use Google Docs. And in­stead of sav­ing pho­tos to a com­puter hard drive, they will add them to Google’s Pi­casa.

Univer­sity of Ade­laide Col-

New kid in town: The Google Chrome­book will change com­put­ing again.

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