] ] Chrome­books are com­ing of age

Daily Trust - - IT WORLD -

The ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled “A fast-take on Chrome OS” on 18 June 2012 in this col­umn in Daily Trust de­scribed the Chrome op­er­at­ing sys­tem (OS) as a work in progress, and so wasn’t worth your while and your hard-earned money. The Chrome OS was de­vel­oped by Google to power its mini “web-com­puter” called Chrome­books. The 2012 ar­ti­cle came in the form of Q and A, which seems to have worked best in bring­ing out the fea­tures of Chrome OS. I will fol­low the same for­mat in to­day’s ar­ti­cle, as I de­scribe the evo­lu­tion that has taken place in the world of Chrome OS/Chrome­books.

Q: So, what is Chrome OS in a nut­shell?

A: Chrome OS is the en­gine that drives Chrome­books, which are light, in­ex­pen­sive lap­tops specif­i­cally built for on­line com­put­ing. That is, these com­put­ers were in­tended solely as a con­ve­nient way for you to ac­cess the In­ter­net, so that you can work with your data (movies, videos, pic­tures, etc.) that are stored on the cloud – specif­i­cally on Google Drive. Chrome­books are not suit­able for in­ten­sive use, such as pow­er­ful com­pu­ta­tions or gam­ing. In the base­line Chrome­books, if you are off­line, the com­puter is vir­tu­ally use­less! How­ever, newer, im­proved ver­sions are try­ing to add more off­line ca­pa­bil­i­ties so you wouldn’t feel like toss­ing the books out of the win­dow when you lose In­ter­net con­nec­tion.

Q: Chrome OS is a bit of a con­fus­ing phrase, isn’t it?

A: Yes. To the user, it shares the same name with Google’s browser and has noth­ing to do with Google’s rather suc­cess­ful An­droid OS that pow­ers smart­phones and e-tablets.

Q: What is the dif­fer­ence be­tween Chrome OS and Chrome browser, also de­vel­oped by Google?

A: Un­like Chrome OS, which is the en­gine for the Chrome­books mini lap­tops, Chrome browser is an in­ter­face that al­lows you to con­nect to, and in­ter­act with, the web. It is Google’s an­swer to Mi­crosoft’s In­ter­net Ex­plorer or Mozilla’s Fire­fox, for ex­am­ple. Note that the Chrome browser is rou­tinely in­stalled in MS Win­dows and Ap­ple desk­tops and lap­tops.

Q: Can I in­stall Chrome OS on my desk­tops or lap­tops run­ning MS Win­dows or Ap­ple desk­tops and lap­tops?

A: No.

Q: So what com­put­ers use Chrome OS?

A: Only the spe­cially de­signed, low­ca­pa­bil­ity, lap­tops called Chrome­books.

Q: How much stor­age (hard disk space) does a Chrome­book have?

A: Not much! Chrome­books were orig­i­nally de­signed to get you to the cloud where you can have all the stor­age space that you need. These small lap­tops have just 16 GB, or at best 32 GB, of in­ter­nal stor­age. This size is tiny by to­day’s stan­dards. The ran­dom-ac­cess mem­ory (RAM) in Chrome­books is a mea­ger 2 GB.

Q: What are some of the other fea­tures of Chrome­books?

A: Chrome­books typ­i­cally have a (16 GB) solid-state drive, which helps the com­puter power up quicker than tra­di­tional lap­tops. Bat­tery life is typ­i­cally 6 hours. The small­est of the note­books weighs only 2.5 pounds and is less than an inch in thick­ness. Screen sizes vary be­tween 11 and 13 inches, and res­o­lu­tion can go up to 1280 x 800 pic­ture el­e­ments (pix­els), which gives you high-def­i­ni­tion view­ing.

Q: What kind of pro­ces­sor does Chrome­book have?

A: Noth­ing spec­tac­u­lar. Wall Street jour­nal­ist Wal­ter Moss­berg in an ar­ti­cle on June 13, 2012 de­scribes the pro­ces­sor in Chrome­book as “a wimpy pro­ces­sor, one of In­tel’s en­try-level Celeron mod­els.”

Q: What are some of the weak­nesses of Chrome­books?

A: You can’t in­stall and use your fa­vorite pro­grams such as the MS Of­fice Suite or iTunes. So, you are stuck with what­ever ap­pli­ca­tions run on Chrome OS. Also, you can’t do much off­line. Chrome OS needs a more ad­vanced file man­age­ment sys­tem. Al­though there are vir­tual pri­vate net­work tools for ac­cess­ing your of­fice in­tranet, most com­pa­nies may not have one that works with Chrome OS. Chrome OS does not al­low you to plug in a printer to print a doc­u­ment! The avail­able wire­less print­ing ca­pa­bil­ity in the sys­tem works only with se­lect print­ers.

Q: It seems as if Chrome­book is very limited. Why would any­one be in­ter­ested at all?

A: Chrome OS does have a few de­sir­able at­tributes. This in­cludes its sim­plic­ity and the fact that it in­te­grates very in­ti­mately with the cloud. Moss­berg says “be­cause it is de­signed to fetch your apps and documents from the in­ter­net, you can repli­cate your en­tire com­puter by just log­ging in on any other Chrome OS PC.” Moss­berg feels that “if you mainly use the web and live in the cloud, it may be the ticket for you, es­pe­cially as a sec­ond com­puter.” Chrome­books are great for folks on low bud­gets.

Q: Which com­pa­nies man­u­fac­ture Chrome­books?

A: When we last wrote on Chrome­books, Sam­sung was the only de­vice man­u­fac­turer. To­day, Sam­sung is still man­u­fac­tur­ing Chrome­books, with its re­cent Sam­sung 550, se­ries 3, but we also now have Acer C7, Hewlett-Packard’s, HPQ-1, and Dell’s Chrome­book 11.

Q: How cheap are Chrome­books?

A: Chrome­books are in­ex­pen­sive; they sell for be­tween $199 and $450.

Q: What does the fu­ture hold for Chrome OS?

A: Chrome­books may be com­ing of age af­ter all. You should ex­pect fea­tures that al­low the in­ter­face to look and feel more like Win­dows PCs or the Mac, with the abil­ity to do more things off­line. You will be able to store files, play mu­sic and videos, view and edit pho­tos, and view MS Of­fice prod­ucts.

Q: So what to do now?

A: For now, your pri­mary desk­top and/ or lap­top is still go­ing to be MS PC or Ap­ple Mac. You could con­sider Chrome­book as a “reach” plat­form for ex­plor­ing the finer edges of tech­nol­ogy. Of course, if In­ter­net ac­cess is a chal­lenge for you, don’t mess around, just stick with con­ven­tional desk­tops/lap­tops.

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