I've been using the CR-48 Chrome OS beta laptop that Google sent me quite a bit. It's got a great battery life, and it's really easy to use. It's very responsive, especially when coming out of sleep or when booting. I also like how I can let anyone use it without having to worry about my data or settings being messed with, and that they can also use it without worrying about me getting passwords, history, etc. It really has been a useful little computer.
As useful as it is, it's very limited when it comes to things not web related. It doesn't have a media player, it doesn't have a file browser, and most of the apps that you would expect on a laptop can't be used if you don't have an internet connection. The good news though, is that it's beta, and it's actively being developed, so of course it's going to change. Today I noticed that the settings wrench in the upper right corner had a little icon on it trying to get my attention. I had set the laptop to the development channel, but there hadn't been an update available yet. Turned out that there was already one available and downloaded for me today. All it took was a restart.
Best things about it so far-
- You can now sync passwords along with your other synced settings. I have been slightly impatiently waiting for this one!
- There is now a file browser. It recognizes thumb drives and SD cards. I took a picture with my camera and put the SD card into the SD card slot on the side of my CR-48. When I went to upload photos the above picture was there. That's how I loaded it. It is rather limited. There doesn't seem to be a way to cut/copy/paste files, or to move them around. You can delete, but that seems to be it for now. For some reason, some drives show up and others don't. I haven't figured out what the difference is yet, as I had two small micro sd cards, both formatted FAT32, one worked one didn't.
- There is a media player now as well! I only tested an mp4 video that I ripped from a DVD and a few mp3 files. It seems to work pretty well, but it's very limited in nature. When you open a media file it opens in a little popup window. You can make it full screen, well mostly, it keeps the buttons and bars across the bottom and a small black bar on each side of the screen. There is a playlist, but you have to individually click each file and add it.
Not bad for the first big update. That at least touched on all three of my main complaints. There is a file browser and a media player, albeit simple ones, and they both can be used without an internet connection. Now you don't have to be completely dead in the water if you aren't connected. If Google documents was capable of working offline then I think you could have a viable alternative computer with only minimal problems/quirks. The CR-48 is not a production model, so although it has a small internal hard drive with very minimal space, that is not how a purchased laptop would be.
Note: If you are having a hard time finding out where advanced file system and the media player are, they have to be enabled first. Type about:flag in the omni bar and hit enter. It will bring up a window with various flags that can be enabled. They are not exactly stable, but I have had but a single lockup so far.