The Google Chromebook

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For those of you who are primarily into Internet surfing, multimedia, email, and a few other web-based application functions, the latest popular genre in laptop computing, the Chromebook, may fit the bill nicely and economically. With a $199-$349 range, the Chromebook makes a nice second PC. Notice I said the word “second.” This is not a PC that you would want to have as your primary one unless you strictly fit into the user category mentioned above.  Chromebooks generally are a little sluggish performance wise, especially if you have a lot of apps opened at once. The display is also lower-quality (smaller pixel detail) than what is the norm with most laptops and tablets.  Only a couple of chromebooks have more than the average battery life of 2-3 hours. If you can live with those issues, the chromebook might be the PC for you.

Chromebooks use the Chrome operating system made by Google, and since a browser is basically running the show, the applications are web-based. You may choose which applications you want by going to the Chrome Web Store. But the traditional suite of programs that Windows-based laptops use, i.e. Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Access, Powerpoint) will not run on a Chromebook. Some of the Chromebook manufacturers include Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, and Acer. One of the popular Chromebooks available soon is the HP Chromebook 14, due this fall and right in time for the holiday season. 

HP Chromebook 14 Specifications

  • Manufacturer: Hewlett-Packard
  • Colors: Snow White, Ocean Turqouise, Peach Coral
  • 14-inch display (1366 x 768 pixel resolution)
  • Weight 4 lbs.
  • Dimensions 13.56″ x 9.52″ x .81″
  • Intel Haswell Processor
  • 100GB Google Drive Storage
  • 16GB Solid-state Drive
  • 2GB/4GB RAM
  • Island-style Chrome OS keyboard (special keys for controlling browser)
  • Clickpad with multi-touch gesture support
  • 3-in-1 card reader (SD/SDHC/SDXC)
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x USB 2.0
  • HDMI
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n Wireless
  • Built-in Optional 4G
  • Audio In/Out Combo Jack
  • Kensington Lock
  • Truevision HD Webcam
  • Battery 50wh 4-cell 9.5 hours
  • Price $299.00 (4G model $349.00)

The High-End Pixel Chromebook

On the
Chromebook high-end, the Chromebook Pixel is the model being marketed now.
However, being at a $1299 price point is rather steep when you consider what
you’re getting for your money. It does not have the benefits of a Windows
laptop with all of the traditional Windows-based apps, and the battery life is
mediocre at best, with 2-3 hours life. The selling points to the Pixel is a
beautiful display (marketed as the highest pixel count of any PC) and hardware
that is very pleasant to the eyes. However, you would be far better off going
with a MacBook or a Haswell-based laptop for the same price as the Pixel. You
would receive better performance, not be limited to web-based apps, and have a
9-12 hour battery as well. If you’re totally sold on the Google web based app
mentality and want a high-end unit, you should wait until next year when
high-end Chromebooks should be offered with the Haswell processor, ensuring a
long lasting battery. I really cannot see paying good money for a hgh-end
Chrome-based OS laptop. It would make much more sense to get a Windows-based
laptop, and get a Chromebook as a secondary laptop, used primarily for the Web.

Business and Education Focus

The
Chromebook is being heavily invested in by business and education, due to the
low overhead costs of traditional laptops. There is far less of a problem with
malware and viruses and Google claims this is due to a multi-layered security
design that makes it almost impossible for infection. And because of the
digital solid-state drives being used, problems associated with traditional
mechanical hard drives found in the mainstream laptops is non-existent. All
things considered, the Chromebook in industry is quickly becoming a top choice
due to its low cost and simplicity, but for the average consumer at this point
it is still in the category of a second PC. As time goes on and the Chromebook
gets tweaked with improvements, that relationship could certainly change. Time
has a way of changing things.

 



Google Glass: Bluetooth on Steroids. . . Or More?

I can still remember the first time I watched a documentary that highlighted the new "heads-up" display that our fighter pilots were using that automatically flashed flight data to their helmet viewer, so they could focus less on the instruments, and more on dogfighting. Watching them engage other fighters in a mock fight with this new technology was just too cool for only military usage. Or so I thought. Years have passed. . . and I have waited for it. . . it has arrived!

Glass is a technology that will rate right up there in the same category as the personal computer, smartphone, and other life-changing technological developments that have totally reshaped not only our culture here in the U.S., but also internationally. We now have the means of accessing and exchanging information in a real-time posture, with industry and the public benefiting tremendously from it.

The glasses are far less obtrusive than our original scenario had envisioned, and a pair of Glass weighs less than an average pair of sunglasses, can be worn comfortably, and actually has a touch of fashion value as well. 

GOOGLE GLASS

Keep in mind that the interface is voice driven. You begin by saying, "Okay glass" followed by what you want it to do. You will see possible choices in the heads up display. You can adjust the menu by manipulating a control on the side on the frame.  Glass audio uses bone conduction technology which is a technology similar to the way a hearing aid works. The sound is not audible to others standing nearby.

The various ways that Glass can be used are only limited by one's imagination. However, here is just a handful of obvious ones. 

  • Taking photos or video of family events without tying up your hand(s). You can be much more involved in a photo or video production, whether it be with friends or family.
  • It's totally compatible with Bluetooth. You can pair it with your cell phone and use it as you would a Bluetooth device.
  • Glass had Cloud capability for accessing data. You can save it to the Cloud and access it with Glass. This opens up endless possibilities for accessing just about any data you need when you need it.
  • You're traveling and need to find a specific location. You can engage the GPS search function and it will find the location for you and display it.
  • You're at a store and the ad item you saw earlier that week does not have a price marked. You can do a query and download the ad information and price.

Various industries can benefit from Glass as well. Here is just a small sampling of some usages:

  • Surgeons operating on a patient and need real-time data on the patient history or an important surgical step can be queried by the surgeon and get data quickly on the heads-up display. 
  • Any educator, college professor, or teacher that needs quick information about their lecture can quickly access the information that they require and pass it on to their students.
  • Service personnel such as a computer technician or auto specialist that requires additional information about a particular PC or auto can quickly access the data required to successfully troubleshoot or repair.
  • People with various seeing or hearing disabilities can quickly access data they need to interact properly in various situations that would be difficult for them to do without the Glass.
  • Gamers may chuck the idea of "virtual reality", with Glass closing the gap between "virtual" and real. This aspect may seem a bit creepy, although many gamers will embrace this opportunity with joy.

Initial reports about Google Glass being available this year through Best Buy Stores has been officially denied from a reliable source. The realistic timeframe won't be until 2014 and the price is uncertain at this point. As with all new technology, the initial offerings will not be cheap. With a perceived large base of professional and personal users, many are certain this technology's success is assured. It will be a little slow going until the price point drops to a manageable level for most people's budget, although certain industries will invest early once this is available. This is one technology you will be able to enjoy and not have to be a fighter pilot.