Over the several days spent writing this review, I can't tell you how many times I was frustrated by my inability to simply drag something from one window to another. I tried using web apps to edit pictures and make charts in spreadsheets, but I kept wishing for my faster, more full-featured native desktop applications. Heaven forbid there's no Wi-Fi on my flight and I want to listen to some music, because I can't store much media on the small internal flash. Media playback in general is a chore - the little popup media box feels like an afterthought, and format support is limited. I can forget about editing RAW photos taken from my DSLR, for instance. Using Chrome OS made me feel like I was stuck on a never-ending hunt for workarounds. Sure, you can usually find one, but is that any way to live with your computer: one workaround after the other?
Ultimately, this whole experiment feels like it's just a couple years ahead of its time. There may come a day, sometime in the not-too-distant future, when web applications have the power and sophistication necessary to really replace most of what you do on a computer. Together with even more powerful, affordable, and energy-efficient processors, cheaper flash memory, and a handful of major revisions to the Chrome OS, a computer built to run a web browser and little else might make sense. Until then, there are plenty of Windows-based laptops in the $430-500 range that may not have the sleek look of a Series 5 Chromebook, and may not boot up as quickly, but offer such vastly superior functionality that I can't imagine recommending a Chromebook instead. For now, laptops based on Chrome OS feel like a novelty for tech enthusiasts. Even Android 3.0 tablets feel more powerful, flexible, and useful.