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