Corporate Comparison: Chrome Notebooks vs. Tablets vs. Laptops

Chrome Notebooks are not as crazy as they first appear.  While the early web observations report it as an interesting idea, but not ready for almost anyone, I do believe that the time is ALMOST ripe for living in the web and on the cloud; while freeing corporate IT shops the hassle of managing user desktops.

After 10 days of use, my interest has grown much more quickly.  Unlike my iPad, which started with great expectations and then drifted downwards, for reasons to see below, the Chrome Notebook started with moderate expectations and continued to get taken back to work day-after-day.

What I loved about my iPad at the office is the instant on, portability and long battery life. Plus the core apps. The Chrome NoteBook has almost the same instant on (but you do need to find a table or lap at worse), great battery life, but mediocre portability (my Google Cr-48 is heavier than it should be).

However, compared to my iPad, the Chrome Notebook has a real keyboard. This is critical.  For me, the iPad at work has turned into a reader and email delete machine.  I go out of my way to not write extended messages on it.  Note taking is impossible.  (And those that talk about Bluetooth keyboards are missing the point: the iPad is missing a keyboard; it is a tablet).

Extra pluses for the Chrome is the larger screen and screaming fast Chrome browser (fast than my desktop Windows 7 machines).

Still there is no doubt that if I had one of the those superlight Samsung Series 9 notebook computers (an Windows “AirBook” equivalent) or better yet, the slight bigger but faster Toshiba R800 with the fastest, latest Intel i7 chip and SSD, this instant on, and speedy computer would rock at the office.  But at a cost ($1,700 plus) and it would still needed to be manage by corporate IT.

The biggest problem with the Chrome is that you have to live in the cloud and on the web.  For an office that has only core computing needs (email, word processing, spreadsheets), then the possibility of Google Apps or even Microsoft’s Office 365 (which works fabulously on the Chrome), then this is a solution that is ready today.

For a corporate IT department, they need only pay $28 a month (plus possible cell data charges) which includes hardware, OS, service and support; plus no antivirus, no corporate management tools, no risks of lost data on the device, no special IT config.  This is incredible for a company

But for all the incredibleness, there are concerns about what happens when not connected to the Net (Google will soon be releasing versions of Google Docs and Gmail that can work offline) and then all the specialized office applications that need a Windows or Mac OS to operate.  (A possible early resolution would the release of a Citrix remote app receiver tool.)

Is the Chrome Notebook ready for offices?  Unless you work with core apps, then not quite yet. But the future for corporate IT is almost tangible.

For now, I’m still lusting over a fast, light, SSD enabled Windows 7 laptop.