June 01, 2012, 11:49 AM —
I love my goofy, travel-ready Chromebook. It helps that it was given away for free at the last Google I/O. It helps even more that one can, with concentrated effort (read: procrastination power) install Ubuntu as a dual-boot option. But I get the sense that little notebooks are going the way of MySpace.
Lenovo makes one of the best netbooks around, and they’re no longer selling it online. Amazon’s Trade-In center recently started accepting netbooks in that tight-but-convenient-cash market. On the more anecdotal tip, mentions of “netbooks” have seriously slowed in my personal Google Reader catalog, which is stocked with more than 200 tech news sources; what mentions there are usually come from discounts, bargains, or off-hand references to new cellular data plan packages.
But one big name in technology isn’t giving up, and it’s Google. Working with Samsung, they just released a new Chromebook. A Chromebook is basically what the industry calls a netbook, with some key modifications: a bigger trackpad, specialty function keys, some nice keyboard layout tweaks, and an emphasis on storing things in the cloud, particularly Google’s cloud. With the release of Google Drive, which gives everybody at least 5 GB of store-what-you-want space, and with offline Docs access rolling out soon, a new, faster Chromebook with a robust cloud behind it is Google’s best shot at really moving their idea of netbooks into buyers’ hands.