The Chromebook made its much anticipated debut on July 15, 2011 after the project was announced all the way back in 2009. It was originally supposed to debut in the fall of 2010. The device is just the web — literally a Chrome browser on a netbook — but it boasts an 8 second boot time. I thought Google was really onto something when I began diving into the details of the project back in December 2009. However, the jury is still out on this device.
When the device came out, I thought it was a bit pricey, but the manufacturers obviously want to milk the early adopters for what they’re worth before lowering the price. The Acer model starts at $349, while Samsung’s model runs $429 for Wi-Fi and $499 for built-in 3G. Google was suggesting that models would start at $299 when the project was first announced. I’m sure that the Acer price will drop to $299 this fall.
Here is one thing that makes the Samsung 3G Chromebook worth $499 for those who opt for the Samsung 3G model: up to 100 MB of free data for 2 years and pay-as-you-go data when you need it and it doesn’t require a contract. I’m curious to see if a 4G model would be available in the near future. 3G speeds are painfully slow. Although it would get the job done of checking email on the road or browsing some news, don’t expect to do much serious browsing with a 3G connection. Rumors are going around that a 4G Chromebook would be available around Christmas time, but that is just speculation.
Before grabbing a Chromebook, the key factor for me is the ability to edit Microsoft Office files. I love Google Docs and use it a lot, but I have to do all of my document creation in Microsoft Word because I need it’s functionality. Unfortunately, if you upload your Word Docs to Google Docs, you cannot edit the file unless you convert it into the Google Docs format. Then when you edit the Google Doc copy, it won’t update the Microsoft Word file, which is hugely annoying.
There is a Top 5 Chromebook myths article that states that the Chromebook can edit Microsoft Office files. Technically, it can edit office files if you convert it to Google Docs, but it won’t sync back with the previously existing file, which basically kills the point of it. The article states that you can also sync your files with Microsoft Web Apps. I’ve tried playing around with Microsoft Web Apps and it sucks. It doesn’t have the simple seamlessness of Google Docs.
If Google was going to wait this long to release the Chrombook, they should have figured out a way for DOC files to be editable right in Google Docs without having to convert the file into Google Docs format. Until that happens, I don’t see the Chromebook as being a threat to Microsoft.
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