Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Guess the Center for American Progress Pays Pretty Well

In Matt Ygelsias’s post on Google Chrome OS today, he asks why there is so much interest in netbooks:

I have to say that I’ve never totally understood the appeal of the netbook concept. The low cost is nice, but you can’t use it as your main “go to” computer. So if you have to buy another computer anyway, you may as well invest in a decent laptop. It’s not as if my 13 inch MacBook Pro is so crippling heavy I can’t take it around with me. And I get around town by walking/biking—what does America’s car-dependent majority need with an ultra-light computer?

As Ygelsias himself notes, the problem with regular notebooks is not their size—it’s their cost. The 13-inch MacBook Pro would cost you $1199.99. Compare that to the $325 Asus eee 1000HA, and you can see the appeal.

Despite Ygelias’s contention, there is no reason you couldn’t use a netbook as your “go to” computer. Most people waste money by purchasing computers with more power than they’ll ever use. If you’re doing high-end video editing*, sure, it’s probably worth it to pay extra for an Apple. If you’re just doing word processing, browsing the internet, and listening to music, a netbook will do just fine.

And if Ygelsias is really concerned about power, he should welcome Google OS given that its entire purpose is to advance cloud computing, which could help make netbooks as useful as any other computer. No longer will you rely on your own hardware to complete tasks—you can instead use the internet to access a remote server far more powerful than any computer you’ll ever own**. There’s almost no need to buy Microsoft Word when you can use Google Docs for free.

Google OS aims to make this as easy as possible by booting up your computer and connecting you to the Internet — and thus your applications — as quickly as possible. You’ll have the ability to access your files anywhere***, won't have to worry about software being compatible with your computer’s hardware, and benefit from the lack of bloat on your own computer. And, of course, you’ll save yourself a lot of money. Makes sense to me.

* Or really must look cool.
** Mark Thoma points out this is like returning to the early days of mainframe computers.
*** Obviously, there are drawbacks to this, such as you probably don’t want to rely on Google to store all your personal documents. But for most files, this will probably work.

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