Google, in partnership with Samsung and Acer, has announced a radical new laptop where all the software and data is stored online. It’s called the Chromebook, which is named after Google’s Chrome web browser.
The Chromebook runs a full-screen Chrome web browser and does everything via the Internet. Your word processor, spreadsheets, email and games are all web apps. There is no local hard drive, so all of your data resides in the “cloud.”
The advantages are many: There’s no software to download, install and upgrade. Viruses cannot infect your computer, though email and web phishing techniques can still pilfer your private information. You don’t have to worry about backing up your data. The Chromebook itself is relatively light, starts up in seconds, and has a long 8-hour battery life.
There are disadvantages as well: If you don’t have an Internet connection, then you have a 4-pound brick. You must rely on the cloud to backup and secure your data, which with all the high-profile data breaches lately, is easier said than done. And let’s face it, most web apps are still not nearly as good as native apps.
Chromebooks are the dumb terminals of the 21st century. But instead of green screens and cords, we have web apps and the cloud. The world is definitely heading in this direction. The web browser is becoming the computer desktop, and our data is migrating to the cloud.
But just as Americans are reluctant to give up their cars and rely solely on public transportation, it will be a while before everyone is willing to trust their entire digital lives to Google and Apple. There are still too many Internet data breaches, data losses, and data holes where Internet service is spotty.
Are you ready to hand over the keys to your digital kingdom?
Article published on November 1, 2011
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