Google's Chrome OS and Samsung's Chromebook

By , Computerworld |  Cloud Computing, Chrome OS, Chromebook

There are a few exceptions. Chrome OS now has built-in functionality for file management and multimedia playback -- features that were painfully absent in early test builds of the software. The new file manager appears automatically anytime you insert a USB device or SD card, giving you a way to browse your storage and interact with the contents.

Double-clicking on an audio or video file within the file manager causes a media player to pop up in the lower-right corner of the screen (the player can also be expanded if you want a full-screen view). With images, the file manager offers full integration with Google's Picasa photo service, letting you upload individual pictures or groups of photos to the cloud with a couple of quick clicks. The idea is that the Web effectively functions as your own personal hard drive.

That idea is great in theory, but when I tried it out, everything wasn't quite as seamless as I expected it to be. The file manager does not yet recognize some standard word processing (.doc) and spreadsheet (.xls) file formats, for example; double-clicking on any such file results in an "unknown file type" error. You can upload the files directly to Google Docs by opening its Web app, but that's the kind of nonintuitive process that frustrated me in my early review of the Cr-48.

The Chrome OS file manager also doesn't yet offer seamless options for uploading files to online storage services, aside from Picasa. A Google spokesperson told me that this kind of integration, as well as system-wide integration of Google Docs for Office files, is still being developed and is set to roll out soon. It's good to know a fix is on the way, but it's unfortunate that these features weren't ready in time for the Chromebooks' launch; their omission is an undeniable chink in the platform's armor at a time when many customers are evaluating the product.

Similarly, Chrome OS currently lacks support for compressed files; clicking on a zipped attachment in my email gave me that gloomy "unknown file type" error once again. I found a website called Wobzip that was able to uncompress the file for me, but that solution wasn't immediately obvious and certainly wasn't intuitive. Google says a system-level fix for this is also being prepared.

On the plus side, Chrome OS does support wireless printing through Google's Cloud Print service.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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