I’ve had my CR-48 for about two weeks now, and I’ve put it through it’s paces. I used it to take notes at Tech Field Day 5. I set up an IRC channel for people to ask questions during the event. I’ve written numerous blog posts on the little laptop. I’ve used it to chat with people halfway around the world. All in all, I’m impressed with the unit. That’s not to say that everything about it has me thrilled.
I like the fact that the CR-48 is instantly on when I lift the lid. The SSD and the lightweight OS team up to make it quite easy to just grab and fire up to start using for notes or web surfing. It’s not quite as fast as an iPad, but much faster than hauling out my Lenovo w701 behemoth. I like having the CR-48 handy for things I would rather do with a keyboard.
More than a few people have remarked to me that it looks “just like a MacBook”. And I’ve come to see it much like a MacBook Air. Obviously it’s not as sleek as Apple’s little wonder, but I like the form factor and the screen resolution much better than some of the other netbooks I’ve used. It doesn’t feel cramped and toy-like. In fact, it feels more Mac-like than any other laptop I’ve used. I’m sure that is intentional on the part of Google.
Having the 3G Verizon radio is pretty handy in situations where there is no Wi-Fi available. More than once I found myself unable to connect to a certificate-based wireless system (a known issue) or stuck in a place with terrible reception. With the CR-48, I just switch over to the 3G radio and keep plugging away. The 100MB allowed with the trial is a little anemic for heavy-duty use, but the bigger plans seem fairly priced should I find the need to upgrade to one. When I tried activating the radio over the phone, the Verizon rep made sure to point out that they had plans available in all sizes for me to purchase, but somehow skipped over the part about me having 100MB for free each month. Luckily I read the instructions.
The CR-48 isn’t without it’s annoyances. The touchpad is probably the most persistent issue I had. The tap-to-click functionality found on most trackpads was bordering on annoying for me. I’m a touch typist with hands the size of a gorilla. I tend to rest my thumbs at the bottom of the keyboard as I type and on this laptop that means brushing the trackpad more often than not. With the default settings, I often found myself sending e-mail or canceling tweets without realizing what happened, or my cursor shooting over to a random section of my blog post and my words spilling into other thoughts. I finally gave up and disabled the tap-to-click setup, ironically making it more like a MacBook.
I also made the mistake of letting the battery run down all the way. It was already low from use and I let it go to sleep without plugging it in. Sure enough, it drained down and wouldn’t power back up. Once I plugged it in I was able to use it, but it wouldn’t charge no matter how long I left it plugged in. It took some searching on the Internet to find an acceptable solution (of which there appear to be many) before settling on a combination of things. I pulled the battery for about 2 minutes, then reattached it and CAREFULLY plugged the adapter back in. As soon as I saw the orange charging light come on, I finished pushing the charger all the way in and it worked for me after that. There are rumors that the port and/or the charger are a little substandard, so this is something that is going to bear a little more inspection. Speaking of the charger, the fact that it uses a three-pronged plug is a little annoying when I’m trying to find a place to plug in. I’ve taken to carrying a little 2-prong grounding adapter in my bag just so I can plug in anywhere. Not an expensive solution, but something I wish I didn’t have to do.
One final annoyance was a minor issue that turned into a humorous solution. When I unboxed the unit and fired it up the first time, it seemed that playing two audio streams on top of each other would cause the speaker to short out and sound like I was choking a robot. There was evidently a fix for it, but there seemed to be an issue with the netbook pulling the new update as it was only a point release and very minor. Every time I checked the system updater, it told me the system was up to date. The fix I found on the Internet suggested to click the Update button repeatedly until the system finally recognized the new update. Literally, I clicked 50 times in order to get the update. It did fix my audio issues, but you would think the update system would recognize a new release was out without me needing to be spastic with the update button.
Over all I’m thrilled with the CR-48 after a couple of weeks of exposure. I keep it in my bag at all times, ready to go when necessary. When I head back to Wireless Field Day in March, I’m planning on leaving the behemoth behind and only taking my CR-48 and my iPad for connectivity. I figure cutting down on the extra 12 pounds of weight will be good for my posture and not having to haul an extra laptop out at the TSA Security and Prostate Screeing Checkpoint is always welcome to not only myself but the other passengers as well. I’m also debating whether or not to flip over into developer mode to see if that has any additional tricks I can try out. I don’t know if it’ll increase my productivity any more, but having a few extra knobs and switches to play with is never a bad thing.