(PLEASE NOTE: I have changed my opinion and now give the Chromebook 5 full stars!)
This is one of those products that is really hard to review because it does what you want but makes you think differently and in doing so makes you question its design. I might be stating the obvious but for those that have not realised, this is the Google Chrome browser with a keyboard attached, wireless n networking and 3G and that is it.
Without a solid internet connection it becomes about as much use as a chocolate teapot!
(Although you can use an app called scratchpad for writing or note taking offline and this can sync with Google docs when you go back online)
I was really torn between this and a tablet and as a gizmo fan I still like the tablet option ahead of this for the simple reason that if you download an app(depending on the app) you can use it off line. This is really the core difference for me. It also makes me wonder why they could not build a version on android and allow storage (standard storage in this device is 16gb which is just a file repository not a drive that you run programmes from) - maybe they will but it's probably not going to happen while the cloud computing model still has legs.
If I like tablets why have I bought this? For me it just came down to practicality; I have an iPhone 4S and therefore I already own a mini tablet which makes my choice slightly easier.
The reasons for my purchase:
I wanted a device that I could edit websites with and 90% of this is carried out online.
I needed to run website admin which is completely internet based.
I need to edit the occasional word document - this is a key area as the sort of editing that we do is (unfortunately) not available through anything other than MS Word and to do this on the Chromebook I used MS Skydrive which allows me to use web based versions of the MS office suite.
I also needed to edit a blog - so a real keyboard is easier to use when you have knock out 500 words.
I wanted easy access to webmail - in particular Gmail.
I needed to access Google Calendar in a way that does not compromise functionality.
A key feature was my requirement to use a Google adwords account - and this at the moment is only functional through a full size browser and I acknowledge that you can view adwords through a smart phone.
I wanted something that would hook up to a wireless network or 3G signal.
I wanted the mobility of a laptop without the poor battery life, slow boot up times and high purchase price.
I did not need app store distractions and even though there is plenty of app content available through the Chrome store, some of which I have already installed, it does not distract me as much as it does on my iPhone. I imagine this will change the more I use the Chromebook but I'm happy with the level of retraint I seem to have at the moment!
What makes this such a great device is the speed, keyboard and battery life.
It powers up in an instant (if you close the cover, it goes to sleep and when you re-open it really is an instant on machine) and the internet connection is snappy but only as good as your provider.
The keyboard is great and has a nice resistance.
The battery life is excellent.
Screen brightness is excellent and resolution is good.
Construction is plastic but of a decent quality.
The mousepad takes a few goes before you start to get used to it and response can be a little erratic but that seems to be more to do with me but I can not be entirely sure! The pad has no buttons and so a right click is a two finger touch and to scroll its a two finger drag. Highlighting is a click and drag. The click action can be a tap or click depending on how you set it up.
To summarise I would buy this if you had to use the internet and edit in manner I need to. If you want a gadget and a smaller form factor then you are probably better off with a tablet and maybe a keyboard dock. Just think carefully about which way you are inclined. After reading this it appears that Google have worked me into a corner and I have to point out that I'm not the search behemoths biggest fan - but acknowledge, that, for now, they run the internet but like Microsoft before them, I look forward to the next stage of the internet evolution that takes away the monopoly element from the Google business model.
The final word, I got my wife a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (WiFi, 16GB, Black) - UK Version
and it's a nice piece of kit but after using both I conclude that from a work perspective and everything mentioned above Chromebook suits me more as I "work" on it rather than mess around!