October 21, 2012
Today, I'm just going to do a little bit of self-promotion. A few days ago Google announced the launch of the new Chromebook. The Chromebook is a very low cost laptop (249$ as I write this) which works a little bit different than many other computers. All the data is basically stored in the cloud, and the laptop has apps for the most common uses, navigating the internet, checking mail, playing games, etc. One does not need to worry for example about "files" or configuration, which is the case when using other operating systems.
In this sense, the Chromebook is closer to a phone than a deskptop computer. Obviously the form factor is that of a laptop, which enables using it for productivity applications, writing long emails, and watching video comfortably. But the simplicity of usage, permanent conectivity, and sandboxed Chrome environment resemble more closely the functionality of a smartphone.
Nevertheless, it has limitations. And it's not for everybody. For example I don't think I could install emacs, git and gcc in this machine and do software engineering. And the same concerns would apply to anyone who requires specialized applications like photo editing, scientific software, games outside the browser, etc. Also, not everybody will be comfortable keeping most of their data in the cloud. But I think that for the vast majority of people, the Chromebook is a perfectly reasonable computer. Capable to do 99% of what most people do with computers, and at an amazing price.