Taking the P out of PC?

Astoria High School in Astoria, Oregon just became an experiment in the future of student computing. The tech company Google put an experimental laptop into the hands every one of the school’s 700 students. Beyond the usual one-to-one initiative is the fact that the particular laptop, named the Cr-48, is not a regular laptop, but more a cross between a laptop and a mobile internet device.


The video below is a humorous take on why to use an internet based notebook over a traditional laptop. Note: at the end it mentions that 25 computers were harmed during the filming. No kidding! With the fabulous photography, especially in slow motion, and the application of wonderful yet damaging scientific/engineering procedures, this five minutes and 37 seconds is well worth your time even though it is an infomercial.
What does the P in PC stand for? Why personal of course. But have you forgotten why the C was called P? I know, the Cr-48 is not just a dumb terminal accessing a mainframe…or is it? Either way, that’s not my point. Instead, I would like you to consider why we wanted some P in our C.
Was it to get away from the mainframe? Likely. But remember the mainframe is not dead, just remarketed. IBM has a whole page of mainframes for sale on their website as well as a historical archive of information about the mainframe. And with just a slight tweaking of the meaning of the term mainframe, cloud-based computing and thin clients have pushed mainframe as a concept back to the forefront. It’s just that the mainframe no longer must be physical machine in a physical place. Instead it is more of a mystical aberration where everything is sort of …well, everywhere, anywhere, somewhere?.
In a nutshell the Cr-48 looks like a laptop and behaves like a laptop, that is if you only use your laptop to surf the net and use web or cloud-based apps.  It does not download in the traditional sense, nor run traditional programs beyond its browser-like OS called, as you’d expect, Chrome OS, and Chrome-based apps. In fact, in some ways is similar to the One Laptop Per Child Program’s XO machine.
Here are some links to info and reviews about the Cr-48 notebook:
Google’s site showcasing the Cr-48
Engadget’s review of the Cr-48
A first-hand account of using the Cr-48
A description of a soon to be released public version
And of course, a naysayer’s take on the Cr-48

So the Google CR-48 Chrome notebook is an interesting change in paradigm…or is it?

I’ll spare you my take on the Cr-48, especially since I have not played with one yet, but I do find this technology innovation somewhat circular in its reasoning. Not good or bad, just circular. But remember, traveling in a circle does not mean you are always in the same time zone.
New technologies have a way of arriving before their time. But in this case, the Cr-48 just might be right on time. Very much like the iPad, it will take users of the Cr-48 a while to start focusing what it can do rather than what it can’t do. But once over that hump, there is a great big world of new possibilities waiting discovery.
And that’s when things will really get interesting!

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