What Is It?
It’s a Dell Latitude running Chromium OS, a downloadable OS created by Hexxeh. It’s very much similar to a ChromeBook running Chrome OS. This is the cheapest way to see if a ChromeBook is for you, the user interface is nearly identical with a few features that are not accessible. Anyone with Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X is able to follow instructions of downloading and extracting files on to a 4 GB USB jump drive. The user then boots through the USB key to access Chromium OS. User can also download the OS on to a virtual box or VMWare if they so choose to boot Chromium that way.
Who is it for?
This is for anyone who wants to use a computer solely working on the web or cloud based applications. There is no need to backup to ones local HardDrive because Chromium OS is running off a 4 – 8 GB USB jump drive. Keep in mind that is a maker’s ChromeBook. The features that are not available due to licensing are Flash, Java, and Google Voice/Video plugin. Great for connected education institutions and businesses.
photo credit: Ivan Zhekov
Whether you are converting an old or new PC laptop into a “ChromeBook” in this instance a ChromiumBook, the hardware it must have is a USB port, ethernet port, and WiFi connectivity. The design, look, and feel is purely from the users prospective, it’s experience of having Google Chrome web browser, Chromium in this case as their only computing highway. The user has to hit the boot option key(F12) in order to select the USB jump drive to have Chromium be the main operating system. Otherwise, when powering on a PC with deciding which environment to boot in, the default OS will run instead. On the other hand a user deciding to purchase an actual ChromeBook is offer several designs and specs to meet the needs of that particular consumer.
The user interface of Chromium OS is very simple. The application task bar or what is known as launcher, resides at the bottom left hand corner. By default have the user has quick access to Chromium(Google Chrome), users Google Drive, and Android-esque approach on accessing the users Apps that they have installed from the Chrome web store. Toggling through the users App drawer, they are able to customize their launcher by right clicking and add any App that they have installed from the chrome web store to their launcher for quick access.
Access to chrome web store
The chrome web store can be accesses through the launcher, icon resembles a dial pad. Chrome offers a wide array of applications that can be installed into Chromium, most of which are free. However, due to the fact that Chromium is missing Flash and several other plugin that allow for animation, a error message will pop-up after a few seconds attempting to install the app of your choosing.
If you are familiar with Google Drive, then this should not be any news to you. First time sign on to Chromium OS gives you direct access to your Google Drive. Adding and editing working documents are seamless.
Settings Draw and Notifications
The right hand corner of the desktop interface, the user has a notification button that he or she can manipulate to their liking. Adjacent to the notification button is the settings drawer. Here the user is able to lock the computer, set up Wifi, or log-out of their account. Keep in mind its all through the USB jump drive that is running Chromium OS.
Cloud based computing, it’s the future of doing everyday operations in education and business. Chromium has the potential for the user to test out the goods before they invest in an actual ChromeBook. Though a ChromeBook starts at $199 USD, depending on what you want out of it, the ChromeBook Pixel is $1299 USD, equivalent to a 13-inch MacBook Pro. Overall, I like the concept of no local storage. No worries, no backups, it’s just there when you want it.
Due to the fact that this review is focused on Chromium OS with the understanding that it has several missing features, that says it all. I am not able to load anything that requires Flash or play video. I don’t like that I am not able to use the camera to capture video or images to upload straight to my Google drive. When setting up Chromium OS, it doesn’t allow me to bind to a WiFi network right away, I have to hardwire an ethernet cable. When the computer goes to sleep it basically freezes and I have reboot the system again. Finally, this will only work if you are connected to the internet.
Should I Buy It?
You don’t have to buy anything, you can test and experience this on your computer now or an old computer thats collecting dust. This is just the gateway for you to decide if you want an actual ChromeBook or keep using what you have. This will only work if Google works all the time, there are several countries that censor Google and their applications. Nonetheless, it’s certainly something to experience, but it would be a waste of your time to actually use this on a daily basis.