Users who spend most of their time in the cloud will find that Google's Chrome OS offers several advantages over a traditional computing environment. You avoid annoying and time-consuming OS upgrades; Chrome OS updates frequently and seamlessly in the background, with new system updates coming in every week or so and delivering improved performance and fresh functionality to your device.
Beyond that, Chrome OS eliminates the hassles of manually updating applications over time; the platform's Web-based apps all update seamlessly on their own, just like the OS. You don't have to deal with messy drivers and software conflicts or worry about virus protection, either. And thanks to the nature of the software setup, Chromebooks don't get gunked up and slowed down over time, as more traditional PCs frequently do.
At a Glance
HTCPrice: $249Pros: Thin, sleek design; excellent keyboard; good battery life; simple to useCons: Subpar performance with high-intensity use; display is adequate but not great; limited to running only Web-centric apps
Chrome OS also benefits from Google's universal syncing system: Within seconds of signing into any Chrome OS device, all of your Chrome bookmarks, settings, extensions and applications appear and are ready to use. And any other user can sign into the same system and access her data and settings, too -- without disrupting or in any way affecting your stuff.
Chrome OS certainly isn't for everyone, but for people who live Web-centric lives, it can be an excellent way to get the benefits of online computing without the annoyances that usually accompany them.
(For a much more in-depth look at the platform and its pros and cons, see my software-specific assessment: Chrome OS reviewed: The final verdict on Google's cloud platform.)
The bottom line
Whether as a secondary system or a primary computer, the new Chromebook is outstanding for light Web browsing and Web-oriented work. It's a slim, light, attractive device with good performance and promising battery life. Google seems to be marketing this machine as a secondary computer for the family, and in that regard, it's a pretty enticing proposition.