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The Chromebook's 9 best and 9 worst features

Likes and dislikes: the laptop with Google's OS

We've taken the CR-48, Google's netbook running the Chrome OS, on a two-month test drive to see how it performs in real-world conditions. Here are nine things we like and nine things we don't like.

Like: Free 100MB with Verizon 3G

In the US, the laptop comes with 100MB of data for free from Verizon 3G. True, you'll definitely use up this monthly quota fast if you spend it, for example, watching a lot of YouTube videos. Still, 100MB for free is better than nothing.

If you don't want to pay Verizon for an increased quota (up to 5GB for $50 per month), then we have a tip on how to effectively use your allotted 100MB: Many popular sites offer scaled-down versions of themselves that cut back on images and JavaScript, presenting mostly the text content, meant for viewing on smartphones. You can often access them by substituting the letter 'm' where you might normally enter 'www' in their web address: m.cnn.com, m.facebook.com, m.gmail.com are examples.

Google has yet to confirm whether the laptop will benefit from the same bundled data when it hits the UK, and who the network providing the data allowance will be.

Don't like: Picture perfect - or not

When you first sign on to claim ownership of the CR-48, it requires that you let it take a snapshot of you. Try to look your best, because you cannot redo or replace it with another shot later (unless you reset the computer by forcing it into recovery mode).

Like: You can hack it

Google doesn't mind if people tinker around with the inner-workings of the CR-48. You can access the computer's terminal shell ('developer mode') by simply flipping a switch within the computer's battery compartment.

Some of the more Linux-savvy recipients of the CR-48 have figured out how to get other operating systems running on it, including Ubuntu.

Don't like: No USB and SD card support

The CR-48 comes with an SD flash memory slot, but Chrome OS does not allow you to access the contents of an SD card that you stick into it. The same is true if you plug a USB flash memory stick into its USB port.

Future access is likely: type about:flags in the Chrome OS address bar, and you'll find 'Advanced File System' listed. Although this can be enabled, we still were not able to access the contents of external flash memory media that we stuck into the computer.

Like: It's free

Despite the flaws of the computer, it's hard to gripe much when Google is giving them away for free. The company will give away a total of 60,000 units.

As to whom specifically they are gifted to, and what criteria one must meet to qualify, that remains a mystery.

See also: Opinion: can Google Chrome OS save the netbook?

  1. Like and dislikes
  2. Long battery life
  3. Free 100MB

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