Engadget has a story up about Google’s Chromebook and the various subscription models for it. (Yep, you can buy it or you can lease it for three years.)
Quick primer, for those who haven’t followed along: Google has created Chrome OS – an operating system (what Windows and Mac OS X are) and partnered with some hardware companies to produce machines that run it. The big difference is the machines are very low powered as the Chrome OS is really what we used to call a “dumb terminal” – it’s a keyboard and monitor that must be connected to a network to work. It runs Google’s applications from the cloud, not locally.
The advantage is you can sit down with any Chrome OS device, log in and all of your stuff is there. When you log out, it all goes back into the cloud. The disadvantage is that all of your stuff lives in the cloud … and if it’s, well, sunny outside and you can’t get an Internet connection, you can’t work. (I’m sure there’s some sort of local caching that will let you do some work … right?)
In theory, with a fast enough connection, you could do a remote control on heavy duty processes, like image or video editing. There’d be a lag, but you can apparently install things like Adobe Photoshop on a server and work it from the laptop.
So, is this of interest to the visual journalist?
It’s way too crippled for what we do.
Is this of interest to the average student?
If their primary need is for basic word processing, emailing and web surfing, then this is a great solution. The education price is $20-23 a month (depending on if you want 3G service). You have to do no maintenance on it, no upgrades, as everything lives in the cloud, and it’s under a warranty for that whole time. If you meet those criteria, then it may work for you.
Think of it as a bigger tablet – for some people, it’ll be all they need. For others, they’ll need a “real” machine.
I do want want to try one though, that’s for sure …