The Chromebook at 10: These stripped-down computers went mainstream
In honor of this Chromebook’s 10th anniversary, see how this”browser in a box” moved from uninspired in 2011 to demanded in 2021.
Nobody expected a great deal from the very first Chromebooks, declared 10 decades back on May 11, 2011. After all, they arrived on the heels of this Netbook age, when cheap, low-power laptops were seen as a panacea for overpriced technology, but ended up overselling their restricted performance. And after spending several years fighting to acquire Windows-running, Intel-Atom-powered Netbooks to do much of anything helpful, I wasn’t optimistic about a personal computer system that appeared even more restricted from the box.
ChromeOS declared earlier in 2011, did not seem like much of a working system in all to me at that moment. It was basically just the same Chrome browser in wide use, using a keyboard and display wrapped about it. The system’s biggest glaring omission has been the capability to set up and operate applications. Who’d want what was basically a browser at a box?
A decade later, Google’s cheap laptop notion remains kicking — and flourishing. Throughout the COVID-19 catastrophe, Chromebooks assisted workers and students stay connected while stuck in the home. It looks like that the Chromebook was before its time, and it required a pandemic for its entire potential to be realized.
A brand new budget challenger
The very first Chromebook versions were declared exactly ten decades back, May 11, 2011, in the Google I/O conference in San Francisco. They comprised models from Samsung and Acer, two of the larger names in Chromebooks.
Surprisingly, $350-$450 remains fairly normal for an entry Chromebook a decade afterward, which makes these among those few tech products which haven’t measurably increased in cost over the previous ten decades.
As a long-time proponent of budget-priced notebooks and laptops, I often say people buy a lot of computers for their requirements, particularly if those desires heavily skew toward fundamental internet browsing, online shopping, social networking, email, and movie screening. Living life completely from the web browser makes sense now, but it turned out to be a difficult sell back in 2011 if there were fewer cloud-based applications tools. And I was not the only person who thought so.
A decade after, iPads and Chromebooks are still fighting for your everyday computing care. Both can nevertheless be found for under $400, and superior variations of the top $1,000. The largest change is that Chromebooks are becoming a little more iPad-like, including accessibility into this Google Play app shop, while iPads are becoming more laptop-like, including mouse and touchpad support.
The first flavor of ChromeOS
It was only when I started moving down the decade-long bunny hole of Chromebook background which I recalled the 1 Chromebook which predated that May 11, 2011 launch. It was Google’s very own Cr-48 Chromebook, a prototype system provided in 2010 to pick pilot application invitees. All these plain-looking black boxes had a 12.1-inch, 1,280×800-pixel screen, 3G mobile broadband along an Intel Atom N455 CPU.
The most fascinating footnote is that a surprisingly forthright entry from Google to potential Cr-48 Authors: “The Pilot program isn’t for the faint of heart. Things may not always do the job just perfect.” Paradoxically, Chromebooks are very effective by demonstrating the opposite behavior. They are an ideal notebook for the faint of heart and items usually do the job correctly.
This classic gallery shows you precisely how generic the Cr-48 appeared and yes, it had a VGA interface.
However, what exactly did we think of this very first consumer Chromebook? The initial Samsung Chromebook won compliments from my colleague Josh Goldman to be compact, in comparison to Windows notebooks of this moment.
We also reviewed an early Acer version known as the C7, which dropped its price to an astonishing $199. However, our 2012 review stated it did not compare favorably to funding pills and noninvasive Windows notebooks: “The Acer C7’s benefits are a physical computer keyboard and touchpad, which bigger hard disk, and also the price. The disadvantages? Seriously short battery life and Chrome’s quite strange, compact operating system”.
Turning the corner
Things continued like this for some time. Chromebooks ate a great deal of the budget notebook mindshare as an increasing number of businesses got into the action, but those machines continued to feel just like backup or secondary laptops in the best. Looking back in the historical record, my initial”living using a Chromebook” post was in 2013 and it is safe to say I was still a skeptic.
It had a forward-looking 3:2 aspect ratio screen. Nevertheless, the major move that assisted Chromebooks move from niche product to mainstream has been the then-new capability to get the Google Play app shop. Having the ability to run almost any Android program on a Chromebook took away the largest objection ChromeOS skeptics needed — the inability to obtain and run local programs. Yes, they had been the mobile variations, but it had been sufficient for a lot of tasks.
Today, it’s a Chromebook universe
The world shifted in March 2020, as offices and schools shut due to COVID-19 and so lots of items transferred online. Many households, involving distant faculty and distant work, discovered they had one notebook per person and cheap Chromebooks found a brand new crowd. All these were comparatively inexpensive PCs that were able to get the online programs that offices and schools were using, such as Zoom and Google Classroom.
During 2020 and 2021, the Chromebook was emphasized among the greatest tools for pupils and remote employees, and notebook reviewer Josh Goldman currently claims that a Chromebook is his default recommendation for most people at the moment. Why is this? I believe that it’s since the pandemic-related changes have driven a lot of us to reevaluate what it is we actually want our computers to perform.