The Google Pilot CR-48 Laptop

Can I call this a laptop computer? Well, I am sitting in my recliner, with it on my lap as I write this blog. So I guess it could be called a laptop. It’s bigger than a netbook, so no use calling it that. It definitely does less than a laptop or netbook, but that really doesn’t matter as it seems to be a purpose built device. So, what is it then? I am caught between few ideas on a name for it. It is either a webbook, or a cloudtop or a cloudbook, or maybe cloudputer.

Everyone has probably seen photos of if, so I won’t worry about posting any photos. Just search Google for CR-48 and you’ll find a lot of photos.

Where does one start on a review like this? I guess I’ll start with the bad things. First off, the trackpad downright sucks. But I have always felt that way about trackpads. You can be moving your finger down the trackpad and the cursor just stops, then it will jump down 2-3″ all of a sudden. And my other pet peeve about trackpads is having it active awhile typing. You are bound to tap it with the palm of your hand and there goes your cursor off to some other part of the screen. But I fixed that by turning off “tap to click”. The other “bad” that, at least for me, is that I can’t activate the Verizon 3G. It shows I have signal, but never just sets on the “waiting for activation” screen and never actually activates. I have an email in with a “Google Ninja” for help with that. Hopefully I’ll hear back from them soon and can get it fixed. And then start using 3G when I am not in WiFi coverage.

Otherwise? I think this unit rocks. It has limited uses, that is for sure. You won’t be playing Left For Dead on it or editing your home videos. But anything web-related is game for this machine. There are the basics such as Gmail, Documents and Spreadsheets using Google Docs. Reading news with Google Reader. Keeping track of your notes with Evernote. The list goes on and on. Flash does work on the CR-48 and it doesn’t seem as bad as he initial reports said it was. But Adobe did confirm the problem and they are “working on it”. You can even read books with Google’s new book reader. I am hoping for a Kindle app to soon appear in the Web Store

Some things I have not been able to do yet include accessing my files in my dropbox. That is not a big deal as most of my important files are in Google Docs, but it would still be nice to be able to open a document or spreadsheet from Dropbox into Google Docs or something. So really, all the “usefulness” of the CR-48 really depends on if you are in the cloud or not. If you already make use of Gmail, Google Docs, Google Reader, Google Notebook, etc. Then this type of cloudtop would be great. If not, then it would only really be useful for browsing the web.

Hardware wise, this seems like a fairly capable machine. It’s a 1.66 Atom processor I think. It has a 16GB SSD drive in it. Wifi and 3G support (I hope I get get 3G working). It has 1 USB port, and the only thing I have tried in it is a mouse and the mouse worked fine, although it was a bit sensitive. There is a VGA port that, as I have read, is an “or” only port. If you plug in an external monitor, the internal monitor shuts off. The keyboard is fantastic! I really like this mac like keyboard (and the all lower case letters on the keys is nice too), but there is not END or HOME key, bummer.

So far I have not really run into many “bugs”. I have made a few reports on usability, but it has been pretty stable since I started using it. I have not seen it crash once. But I might not be working it as hard as others have. I am going to try to start using Google Talk more instead of Yahoo so that I can “chat” on this machine.

Google plans are to keep improving the OS and software in this machine (which is automagically updated whenever they do release an update). So I can only see things getting better. I think I heard that this type of laptop would be available early next year, but I doubt it will be similar to this machine. It’ll be branded with fancy colors and screens and graphics. But I really like the flat black matte finished machine. It’s not a “look at me” type of machine, it’s a “get down to work” type of machine,