The netbook may be more or less dead, but Google and Acer are partnering up to try and revive the sector, with a new notebook that won’t cost much and features an operating system that sits in the middle of everything else out there.
You might remember Apple’s “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” ads that specifically tried to point out the difference between Mac and Windows machines. They were fun, quirky, and went through a comedic way of citing the differences of the two types of machines.
But there’s more than just Mac and Windows, and a new laptop from Acer doesn’t really adhere to either stereotype, sitting in the middle.
Running an operating system based on Google’s Chrome web browser, the Acer Chromebook is the first machine of its kind to launch in Australia, bringing with it a fresh take on what an operating system should be like.
Many of the specs we’ve seen before in other machines, with the Chromebook including a 320GB hard drive, 2GB RAM, an 11.6 inch LED backlit LCD running 1366×768, SD card slot, three USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, and support for both wired Ethernet and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi.
There’s a little bit of grunt there too, with an Intel Celeron processor included, which should be enough for the operating system, which is neither Mac OS or Windows.
Rather, this little machine runs Chrome, an operating system developed from Google’s Chrome browser, which runs apps developed for the same browser, and is designed to always be in sync.
Apps such as YouTube, Kindle Cloud Reader, and Evernote are available, while the games list includes Bastion, Plants vs. Zombies, Need for Speed, and that old favourite Angry Birds.
But running apps and games on a Chromebook is different from other computers because here everything is connected to your cloud-based Google account, the same one you would normally use for Google Mail (Gmail), YouTube, Google Analytics, Android, Google Maps, and just about anything else that sits in the “Google” library of services and software.
While the apps can install locally, whenever you’re connected to a network connection, they will synchronise to your account, making sure everything you have is backed up to the cloud.
Offline support is included too, so you don’t need to always be online for the Chromebook to work, and can create and edit documents when you’re away from the internet.
What’s interesting to note is that because Chrome OS is built from the Chrome browser, you don’t really need to be either a “Mac person” or a “Windows person” to get it.
Instead, everything is synchronised to your Google account, and regardless of what computer you use for your main machine – Windows, Mac, or even Linux – all you need to do is open the Chrome browser on that machine (or even a different browser accessing your Google account) and you’ll be able to see the files.
Essentially, even owners of Android phones will be able to see the files, as the synchronisation of files should occur there.
For $299, it’s an intriguing offer, and with an emphasis on writing, web surfing, and a world that’s constantly connected, as well as the small size and pricing, it’s hard not to see that students are the obvious target here.
In fact anyone existing in a very Google-connected world should find this an intriguing proposition, given how well connected everything is.
We’re reviewing one right now, however, and should have a full write-up on this shortly.
Only one model of the Acer Chromebook is slated to hit Australia at the moment, with no 3G model available yet, though Acer’s people tell us there are more possibly in the pipeline.
Acer’s Chromebook will hit retailers (JB HiFi and Harvey Norman to start with) from today, with a recommended retail price of $299.