Samsung launches its chromebook

2011-07-17 17:56

Berlin - Google took two years to work out the concept for its Chrome operating system. Now the first Chromebook - from Samsung - is out. It's fast and secure, but it doesn't offer all the functions of today's laptops - and it can do next to nothing without internet access.

But there are bright spots too. For instance: Boot-up time. A Windows laptop can take two or three minutes until it's ready to run. It's a whole different story with the Samsung Chromebook: it takes nine seconds from pressing the start button until the login window pops up. Only two more seconds elapse after the password is entered.

It takes about the same amount of time for the netbook to make a Wi-Fi internet connection, pulling up the web-based user interface.

Things go even faster - a total of three seconds - when it's time for the Chromebook to wake up from standby and re-establish its Wi-Fi connection. That's a feat so far only mastered by laptops like the MacBook Air, which has an SSD hard drive. But those SSD-enabled laptops usually cost twice the €400 asked for the Samsung device.

The operating system is key to the speed. Most laptops using either a Windows or Mac OS system open multiple layers of the system, as well as components and programmes during start up, creating the impression that the process takes an eternity.

Meanwhile, the Chromebook, at its core, is just a Linux operating system and the Chrome browser. Programmes like e-mail clients, word processors, spreadsheets, games or photo processing programmes are not stored on the computer, but accessed via the browser as web services.

For working while online, Google has made available its reliable suite of web applications, including Gmail, Calendar and a series of apps like Google Docs. But users are not limited to Google programmes. There's also access to competitors like Yahoo and Microsoft.

And, if the laptop is operated in guest mode, a Google login isn't even necessary, meaning the user leaves no data trail on the Chromebook.

Dead when offline

A Web Store has about 5 000 applications available. But a lot of applications that laptop users have come to expect on their machines -video editing software or Skype for internet calls - aren't there, even if Google does offer its own voice-over-internet-protocol service.

But the biggest drawback isn't selection of programmes - which is always growing - but the need to rely on a stable internet connection. The Chromebook is capable of almost nothing when offline.

Thus, the Chromebook, for now, is only of interest to people who can spend their entire day in a networked environment, like students on a campus or people with reliable internet connections in their home or office.

Of course, one can ensure a full time connection with a €450 UMTS version that accesses the internet via mobile services. But that still means you're offline if you wander into an area without service or get onto an airplane.

Chrome developer Sundar Pichai told the German Press Agency dpa that, in the near future, key applications like Gmail and Google Docs would work when offline.

"Those already work on my personal Chromebook. We'll free up this function for everyone soon, after we've cleared up a few small problems." But he didn't give a date.

Another advantage of the Chromebook is that updates are automatically uploaded in the background. "Whereas as a standard laptop will generally get slower in the course of time, Chromebooks will always get better," promised Pichai.

One area where Google could expand its offerings is in the selection of multimedia formats for recording and playback. Right now that's limited to MP3 and AAC files or pictures in the JPEG and PNG format. Quicktime films and data in the popular MKV format cannot be viewed.

Integrity check

Users, however, don't have to worry about regular updates of anti virus software. That's because the Google system's architecture cannot be attacked by Trojans and other malware.

Also, the Chromebook checks the integrity of the system at every start up.

If the check finds damaged or dangerous code the computer starts a second version of the system software from a protected backup.

In theory, one can work all day long with the Chromebook. Of course, if you spend all your time watching high-definition videos on YouTube, you'll drain your battery in six hours, since the Dual Core Atom N570 Intel processor requires a lot of energy.

The display offers a comfortably high resolution (1 280 X 800 pixels) and is matte, meaning there are no problems with reflections, as is the case with the screens of most of today's laptops. But the image quality does drop off significantly if the screen is viewed from a sideways angle.

But these pros and cons are secondary issues when it comes to the Chromebook. Whether you want to be online or offline is the key question.

"Because of the small hard drive, everything has to go into the cloud," said Christian Woelbert, an editor with the German computer magazine c't. For most private users, the Google machine will probably only be a backup device.

Matthias Kremp of Spiegel magazine's website is critical of the complete reliance on web access. "Only when Google and the manufacturers of Chrome web apps can fix this problem, can netbooks become a true alternative to today's laptops that can be taken seriously."

- SAPA
Read more on:    google  |  samsung  |  computing  |  internet  |  technology
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
9 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Be open, network and share your intentions and ideas as these may be the vital seeds to the imminent change that can be starting...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.