Tag Archive | "chrome"

The Lucky 13 Security Checklist. Prepare your Windows PC for better on-the-road security and privacy.

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I’m preparing to go to Mobile World Congress where one of my worries will be security and privacy. To that end I’ve hardened my Windows build and written it up below as a checklist of tasks that I urge you to look at and consider, especially if you’re connecting to unknown hotspots.

The checklist has evolved from work I did training journalists in Ukraine, work I’ve done here on Windows 8 tablet security and work I’ve done on Clean Computing with Chromebooks which, interestingly, would have a checklist just half as long as this. Points 1-7 don’t apply to a Chromebook. Unfortunately I’ll be needing video editing and gallery management tools in Barcelona so I can’t use a Chromebook as my main PC there.

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ASUS C200 Chromebook is a silent, stylish all-dayer. (Video)

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ASUS C200 Chromebook _24_

I’ve previously done work with ChromeOS and Chromebooks but this is the first time I’ve done a top-to-bottom, deep-dive analysis of a Chromebook. The two weeks of testing and analysis has just been published at Notebookcheck.net and the overview video is below.

The ASUS C200 is probably the most productive PC per $ that I’ve ever tested. It offers over 10 hours of battery life in some scenarios and along with that it’s got a good keyboard, it’s light (1.2KG) and it’s completely silent.  But it’s a Chromebook and it has its limitations. It’s also running on a low power Intel Baytrail-M platform so that has limits too.

Luckily the C200 is running a high-end Baytrail-M platform so performance isn’t a major issue for web browsing but when it gets to HTML5 applications there are some issues. Documents in Google Drive took a long time to load as did my large Google Play Music collection and even good old Tweetdeck.  These long loading times aren’t due to poor WiFi performance as the AC-capable module was strong throughout the test.

Good speakers mean you’ve got the potential for a good video experience and this 32GB model had enough space to load up a number of films. With 10 hours of offline video viewing available with one charge you’ll have no problem on a long-haul flight although it must be said that this non-IPS 1366×768 screen has limited viewing angles.

ASUS have done a good job with the C200. It’s not a direct competitor to the Acer C720 which  you would probably choose if you were more into web-based working. If you’re more into a casual web experience, the C200 is the Chromebook to buy.

It’s well-built and incredible value. $229 right now on Amazon. Looking forward to 2015 and a time when Android Runtime and local apps are starting to be ported over it could solve some of the issues  I listed in the full review. Here’s a summary of those Chromebook issues:

Chromebook issues: Skype, local storage, printing, Microsoft Office and other Windows (or OSX) productivity suites, offline applications, USB device support, network attached storage using SMB, NFS and DLNA,video format support, AC3 and DTS audio incompatibility, music player synchronization, Amazon Prime Video outside the USA.

Enjoy the video and the full review and if you have any questions, let me know.

Should We Pay Attention to Chromebooks?

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Should we, in the ultra-mobile computing sector, take any notice of Chromebooks? Of course we should. We should pay attention to Android, to IOS, Sailfish and Windows Phone too. Simple.

Here’s the long answer about why we need to pay attention to Chromebooks but first let me admit that I’ve only recently been inspired to take a closer look after MyDigitalSSD sent me an M.2 SATA drive and a Chromebook to do an upgrade on. I’ve done that upgrade and I’ll be dropping the Super Cache 2 into an Ultrabook to give it a performance test after writing this article. Thanks, MyDigitalSSD, for the opportunity, and the ‘heads-up’ on Chromebooks.

Acer C720 Chromebook Upgrde (10)

In terms of Ultra Mobile Computing, Chromebooks don’t fit-in. They require a constant connection to the Internet just to have access to personal files, for example and yet most don’t have 3G/4G/LTE. The Chrome OS is dull and limited. In terms of local applications and network flexibility there’s zero to get excited about. Ultra Mobile PCs are about having total computing flexibility with you 100% of the time and Chromebooks just don’t fit.

I don’t cover Chromebooks here and yet I watch the segment, just as I watch the IOS and Android space, very carefully. From day 1 actually (here’s the failed blog I started!) I listen to the GigaOm Chrome Show too. All of those OS segments have the potential to fill a particular mobile computing role.

Yeah, Chromebooks are dull. The UI is plain and simple, they don’t look good on the outside and they don’t look good on the inside. Most Chromebooks use cheap processors and cheap plastics to keep the price down. There’s an exception, yes, and that’s a good start.

Here’s something I wrote on Google Plus recently:

No NFC (I’m working in very different ways with my smartphone using tap and send), no always-connected standby (messaging notifications, reminders, low power music streaming), no way to access all my NAS content (a huge problem.) no DLNA (I often push to the living room big screen) and having used touch on Windows 8 for a year I miss that a lot. Having a Google-first experience like this is also somewhat worrying.

Changes are needed and luckily Google and others are putting their toes in the water. Touch and style is now being offered in some models and there’s no technical challenge for manufacturers in making a laptop thin, light, stylish and powerful;  We see that with Ultrabooks all the time.  Many of us use browsers, with touch, on 4,5,7,8, 9 and 10-inch screens too so there’s no reason to think that there’s a problem with the UI either. Chrometabs, anyone?

Chrombook Pixel

Chromebooks are quick to start, efficient, use a free operating system and don’t nag you with updates and patches every day. They have some security advantages. Chromebooks can be used in a two-screen desktop scenario and the ability to just move to another Chromebook (or Chrome browser instance) log-in and get to work is refreshing.  The Acer C720 has the fastest browser and web-apps, per dollar, that I’ve ever experienced. It’s also nice to think about the future of ChromeOS. Android app integration? Better HTML5 apps? Touch user interfaces? Always-On?

Smart hardware, built-in cellular connectivity, great designs, always-on, touch user interface and showcase software would certainly make me consider changing my working methods and that could happen, as long as we are prepared to pay more than $200 for it. Let’s watch this space carefully.

User Report – Chrome OS on a Netbook

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chromebookYou don’t have to buy a Chromebook to get Chrome OS. Using the Hexxeh open source Chrome OS builds, Lars F. Jørgensen built a Chromebook out of an early netbook, the Aspire One A110. With netbooks in Europe dipping under 200 Euros occasionally now (here’s an offer for a current Acer D255 at Amazon, Germany – my Affiliate link) it doesn’t have to be old or expensive either.

I’ve posted the article over at Chromebook News as I feel there’s limited ultra-mobile capability in it but it’s interesting to think of Chromium, the browser, on something like Ubuntu or Meego that may not provide the support-free software layer but would provide all the local facilities needed and, as time goes on, some extended power-saving features too.

Many thanks @faarborgs for this guest post.

Chrome OS on Aspire One A110 – User Report

Angry Birds – Chrome App Version Struggles

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So Google tell us that the Chromebooks will be fast. It all hinges on the apps (again!)

I took the newly released Angry Birds for Chrome and tested it on a desktop, a tablet and a netbook. I also took a beta version of Chrome and tested it on that. Then I took a native version downloaded via AppUp (Yes, Angry Birds is already available for your Windows desktop!)

The results – I’m not impressed with the Chrome version at all. Windowed and running slowly on Chrome. The Native version runs flawlessly.

This, of course, isn’t a Chromebook test but remember, Chromebooks will run in Intel Atom N570 (at least the first devices) so the CPU and GPU power is limited. The Chrome OS is likely to be faster and WebGL will get better and as we go forward, the platforms will obviously get better but based on what I’ve seen this evening, I’m a little wary of performance. It’s not going to stop me from buying an Acer Chromebook for testing but this test gave me a good reality kick.

Update: Feeback from others in my circle that have tested isn’t that positive either.

Note: We’re not sponsored by AppUp or Intel. The ads you see are agency sales.

Are Chromebooks Netbooks? Can they be Ultra Mobile? Are You Interested?

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Acer Chromebook 4I want to wind back to a post I wrote about Chrome OS last year…

Personally I’m having trouble working out what Google are doing here. Is it to promote HTML5 development? Am I failing to see the long-term play? Are we really going to be using operating systems on our desks that are dumber than the ones on our phones?

The advantages for netbooks users are limited. The license cost advantage will be just $15-$25, the device support will be poor and there will be a million and one re-distributions causing confusion and splintering for Linux.

High-speed javascript processing won’t be unique to Chrome. Fast boot won’t be unique to Chrome. HTML5 won’t be unique to Chrome. Web apps won’t be unique to Chrome. What’s going to get people to buy a Chromium OS computer? I doubt people will be queuing up for an OS that never needs upgrading.

I’ve also talked about the cloud NOT being mobile.

Put the two together in a Chromebook and you’ve got something underwhelming for Ultra Mobile fans.

Despite that, I got very excited listening to the Chromebook announcements this evening. Very excited. It peaked when I heard that the Angry Birds game (yes. I’m getting bored of that too!) had been written, in HTML5, to work offline. Some of the HTML5 performance demos were impressive too. And then, I saw the 1.3KG 11.6” 1366s768 Acer Chromebook. OK, it’s not as attractive as the Samsung Series 5 but look what’s inside.

Not only is it running on an Intel N570 netbook platform but some of the code, according to my source, came from the Meego project and there’s a tight connection between Google and Intel on this. Intel are even calling these Chromebooks, Netbooks!

samsung series 5 chromebook 3Finally, it was music to my ears to hear that legacy PC support was being dropped. No checking for floppys on boot. I assume it’s not a BIOS-based start-up too. USB support will be slim to start with, true, but it’s what we need to do. To start from scratch. Windows has the apps, but not the underpinnings to be a great mobile operating system.

Put THAT all together and you’ve got a slim OS build on a Linux Kernel where all the functionality is in the browser. Put that browser in MeeGo and what have you got? Chromebook and Laptop? Put Chrome OS on Oaktrail or Moorestown and what have you got? Always on?

As with MeeGo, Honeycomb and other ‘new’ OS’, the apps are going to be the big issue but look what Google just went and did. They offered an app store where the dev gets 95%. 95%! (Update: OK. Thats in-app purchases although doesn’t it mean you can offer a free app and then sell the license for the full version in-app for a 5% fee?)

I’m interested now because app development could be fast. Why? It’s very interesting for devs from day one. How many Chrome browsers are already installed?

I’m as interested in Chrome OS as I am in Honeycomb as a slim OS and app layer that could help in many ultra mobile scenarios….in the future. I’m buying an Acer Chromebook for testing, that’s for sure. I hope you can join me on the live session because that’s going to be a very interesting one.

But you may not be so interested. Looking at the 12” 1.4KG Samsung Series 5 Chromebook you might think – what the hell has this got to do with Ultra Mobile? Let me know in the comments below. Lets talk it through and shake-out the issues and queries. Here are some starting points.

  • Touch
  • USB support
  • No Bluetooth
  • Apps
  • Offline Cloud
  • Ethernet Port missing

Both devices are in the database along with all the specifications and links available at the moment.

Acer Chromebook

Samsung Series 5 Chromebook

Google Chrome Blog announcement

Acer Chromebook, Samsung Series 5 Chromebook Specs, Pics

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At 11.6 and 12.1” respectively, the two Chromebooks announce today fall right alongside netbooks. They even utilise a netbook CPU, the Intel Atom N570 dual-core 1.66Ghz part – the top of the range.

Acer Chromebook.

Full specs and links here

Acer ChromebookAcer Chromebook 2Acer Chromebook 3Acer Chromebook 4Acer Chromebook 5

  • Intel Atom N570
  • 11.6” 1366×768 screen
  • 16GB SSD storage
  • 1.34KG

 

Samsung Series 5 Chromebook

Full specs and links here.

samsung series 5 chromebook 1samsung series 5 chromebook 2samsung series 5 chromebook 3samsung series 5 chromebook 4samsung series 5 chromebook 5samsung series 5 chromebook 6samsung series 5 chromebook 7samsung series 5 chromebook 8samsung series 5 chromebook 9

This is the larger, heavier of the two. Note the sealed battery compatment.

  • Intel Atom N570
  • 12.1” 1280×800 screen
  • 16GB SSD storage
  • 1.48kg

There’s a 3G option available on the Samsung Series 5.

See the two devices side-by-side

Google’s CR-48 Chrome OS Netbook on Video and in Photos

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IMG_3741We’ve got our hands on Google’s Chrome OS test hardware (you can apply for one yourself at http://www.google.com/chromeos/pilot-program.html). This netbook won’t ever be released to the public and is purely for testing Chrome OS, but it can give us a good idea of what to expect from future Chrome OS devices. Namely, a huge battery, 3G built-in, a somewhat altered keyboard from what you’re used to with Windows/Mac OSX, and not much more power than what’s necessary for basic web browsing. Jump over to Carrypad’s sister-site, UMPCPortal.com for an overview video and gallery.

Google’s CR-48 Chrome OS Netbook on Video and in Photos

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We’ve got our hands on Google’s Chrome OS test hardware, the CR-48 (you can apply for one yourself at http://www.google.com/chromeos/pilot-program.html). This netbook won’t ever be released to the public and is purely for testing Chrome OS, but it can give us a good idea of what to expect from future Chrome OS devices. Namely, a huge battery, 3G built-in, a somewhat altered keyboard from what you might be used to with Windows/Mac OSX, and not much more power than what’s necessary for basic web browsing. Have a look at our overview video:

CR-48 Chrome OS Netbook Overview

We’ve also done our usual photo shoot with the unit so you can get a nice detailed look at the hardware. See an excerpt below, or swing by the gallery for all of our CR-48 photos (note: the slate being used for size comparison is the Onkyo TW317). More coverage to come, stay tuned.

IMG_3754 IMG_3741

IMG_3743 IMG_3737

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What Google’s Chrome OS Means For You.

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Google finally launched Chrome OS at a press event in San Francisco yesterday after first introducing the concept back in July of 2009. Its a straight forward idea, your browser is the operating system and you use web applications for your daily needs.

On the surface Chrome OS is virtually identical to Google’s Chrome browser but actually runs on a stripped down Linux core which promises to be lightweight and efficient.

cr48_top

As part of the announcement Google opened a pilot program to test Chrome OS on an x86 unbranded notebook called the CR-48. The Intel Atom based 12.1 inch notebook won’t be on sale to the consumers but does come with a speculated 8 hours in use battery life and an impressive 8 days standby. Whilst the CR-48 certainly doesn’t come under the Carrypad coverage I’m certain as the platform matures smaller ARM based devices will be available which will bring better portability, power efficiency and of course the all important full desktop browsing experience which we talk about so much. Couple this with the new Chrome Web Store providing web applications for both Chrome OS and browser and we could be provided some competition to the developing MeeGo ecosystem.

So, What Google’s Chrome OS means for you?… Nothing yet but watch this space.

Confirmed: Chrome is for Netbooks. Is Android 3.0 for Tablets?

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We’re getting a clearer picture of the operating system strategy from Google today as PCMag reports on Eric Schmidt’s closing keynote at IFA in Berlin. Apart from talking about the future of search, location search, fast search, personal search and the growth in mobile web and smartphones, he confirmed in a Q&A that Chrome OS is targeted at netbooks.

The next question is ‘what is a netbook’ but at least the strategy for Chrome OS aligns with what Google said on day one. If we consider Chrome OS to be a very fast way to access Google search and web applications and add the web application layer/web app store then you have a basic framework for a web-based user interface and application layer for a simple Linux-based PC. Interestingly, that Linux-based core could come from the Android space, from Linaro, from MeeGo or any of the other mobile-focused Linux platforms and could even contain an Android environment as part of the user-layer but we get the impression that Google is going it alone on this as a separate project. It will be interesting to see what netbook manufacturers pick it up and work their drivers and customisations into it because at the moment, the Intel/Nokia-backed MeeGo appears to have the better position.

With Chrome OS targeted at netbooks it would be easy to summise now that Android 3.0 is for next-gen high-end smartphones, tablets and smart-books. We need to be a little careful though because Google is also putting a lot of effort into TV and Eric Schmidt confirmed in his keynote that Android is a part of Google TV. Could this be the target for Android 3.0? Whatever the strategy here, the key point is that Google will open Android up to new screen sizes. Its a clear signal for developers to start thinking about large-screen applications.

When will this happen? Chrome partnerships will be announced later this year but Android 3.0 timescales are less clear.

With companies like Samsung, Dell and Toshiba moving real products into this space now and with Samsung pushing for 10M sales of the Galaxy Tab [That seems way too high to me – Chippy] there must be people at Google thinking about speeding up the Android 3.0 process. Major changes to Market and their app suite would be needed so this isn’t a minor task but with HP, Nokia, Intel and others breathing down their necks, it has to happen soon.

See also: Question Marks that Remain Over Q4 Tablets

Sidenote: Intel are working on an X86 port of Android for their ‘always-on’ capable platforms for 2011. These platforms are targeted at the 4-10” screen space and so clearly something has to happen with large screen support. With Intel and a key member of the Open Handset Alliance and a close Google partner (Google TV for example) we should also watch for clues from that side of the camp. Intel are likely to have X86-Android ready for mid-late 2011 and this, according to Intel, will be offered up as an official X86 Android. Some of this Intel/Android work is also likely to be part of Google TV.

The full and very interesting keynote is available here.

Via netbooknews.de

Google Chrome OS Tablet Rumored for Nov 26th

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Downloadsquad have had a tip-off that a Google Chrome OS tablet is coming. Finally we’ll be able to see if it’s just a dumb browser or whether Google have finalised the Chrome Web Store they were promising. It will be interesting to see what platform they’ge chosen too. Could this be the first Moorestown tablet?

Apparently HTC are building it but price and details are unknown at this stage. We’ll put it in the database as soon as we have info.

Google launching a Chrome OS tablet on Verizon, goes on sale November 26.