One thing to remember about Google's netbook: forget it

All the disadvantages of three products it could have been, no benefit


It's not often that you see products that are kind of nichey and oddball within the IT world getting coverage in the general press

The combination of Google's ubiquity, the Web's popularity and the dirt-cheapness of the netbook have combined (apparently) to make Google's experimental, upcoming, might-never-really-fly CR-48 netbook interesting enough to get reviews from journalists who write for normal people instead of geeknoscenti.

(It's not that they don't know what they're talking about; many do. It's just that their audiences have about a thimbleful of patience for tech products they don't already recognize, so seeing anything that's a real departure from the mainstream is really unusual.)

The question in most non-technical reviews of CR-38 ChromeOS netbooks is WTF? (Or, oddly, where is the Caps Lock key?)

Within IT, the questions tend to be more about whether ChromeOS is a flash in the pan, what the difference is between ChromeOS and Android, whether adding an untested OS from Google is a good idea, and whether it will keep the category of netbooks alive.

The answer to all of those is no. Netbooks of all kinds, and network computers that aren't strictly dumb terminals running virtual desktops, should be allowed (compelled, really) to disappear into the a secret place in the nearest recycling facility where low-quality, unreliable, underpowered, disappointing, fall-to-pieces technology go to die.

ChromeOS may run HTML5 well, respond quickly on good connections and not get mucked up with Windows' tendency toward junk-file arteriosclerosis or the MacOS' no-problem-everything's-fine-except-this-bomb. It may even make a good client for libraries, kiosks, airports and other publicly available PCs.

It will not be a good client for most consumers or corporate end users.

It's not designed to store or run apps on the machine itself, so even when it can store enough data in its flash memory to run an application locally, it's only doing it until it can dump the data off into the cloud.

That's a good solution as a backup or to share files or to do research or put data up in a place you can find it from another location and another machine – when you're travelling, for example.

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