Google Says Faster Chromebooks On The Way

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome, said in an interview that faster Chromebooks are on the way. This is good news for those who wanted to invest in a Chromebook, but were turned off by the underwhelmingly sluggish performance. Google is aware of the issue, and is looking forward to user feedback after they've sampled the second-generation device.

"We remain very excited about Chromebooks," he told CNET. "We got a lot of positive feedback, and we are really looking forward to the next generation of Chromebooks. We will improve on the dimensions of speed, simplicity, and security."

He added that because Google updates Chrome every six weeks, Chromebook performance is much better now than it was when they first arrived on the market. But speed freaks likely need to shy away, as Chromebooks will still be designed with low power consumption, long battery life, and low prices in mind. Basic online social needs will be met, but Chromebooks aren't meant for gaming or editing hi-res photos.

In the interview, CNET's Stephen Shankland said that the current Chromebook is simply underpowered for his overall needs.

"Google Docs documents grind open," he told Pichai. "Scrolling can be an excruciatingly laggy affair. My son, trying to play the Flash-based Crush the Castle 2 game, cried out in exasperation when trying to construct his medieval defenses. Keyboard repeat rates aren't adjustable to let me set them fast enough with only a brief delay before kicking in. When I have more than 15 or 20 tabs open, it seems that old tabs must be reloaded from the server when I switch back to them."

If this is true for all Chromebook models on the market, then Google will indeed need to work on increasing the performance of Chrome OS if it plans for the platform to stay afloat during the tablet and ultrabook craze. Maybe this second-generation is what Thursday's Android 5.0 "Jelly Bean" report was referring to, a speedier version of Chrome OS that will work alongside Windows 8 in a dual-OS marriage.

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  • Anonymous
    The pricing decision rather than speed has been the main complaint. Sure there are lots of nerds on blogs like this who have never actually used a Chromebook who complain about the speed - or rather the poor speed you would get on it if you ran Windows on it (and which you do with Windows netbooks). However if you look at the comments from people who have actually bought Chromebooks and used them (for example the Amazon customer reviews), speed isn't a complaint, and in fact they feel it is fast and snappy. The reason of course is that Chromebooks are fast and responsive - if you run ChromeOS on it since the only thing that runs on it is a web browser, but painfully slow (a la Windows netbook) if you run Windows. The only exception to this is Flash which is poorly maintained and doesn't seem to be properly accelerated, but then again the same would apply to a Windows netbook. The people who buy Chromebooks buy it mainly for Internet browsing, webmail, and occasional Doc apps and don't spend their time running Flash games, so speed isn't a problem for them.

    This is all changing now, because of the emergence of Native Client applications and games. These are rapidly being ported to run on Chrome, and bring local applications to Chromebooks. Pretty well any desktop game or application written in any programming language can be ported to Native Client - CAD programs, photo editors, video and audio editors, media players without hardware acceleration - the sort of applications that could never run in a web browser before. This is a game changer for Chrome and Chromebooks, and Chromebooks are going to need more powerful processors as well as better graphics and media acceleration to handle this. This is the reason, rather than customer complaints, that Chromebooks is getting faster cpus, plus the fact that lower production numbers for Atoms may mean that the price advantage of Atoms may not be that attractive, although the longer battery life advantage remains.

    The thing about the Chromebook is that it has never seriously been marketed to the consumer, although those who are in the know do see a big potential. Microsoft has started it's patent cartel licensing extortion scam to cover Chromebooks as well Android - a sure sign that Microsoft considers Chromebooks to be a serious threat to Windows. Dixons, UK's largest consumer electronic chain, made a statement that one in ten computers sold could be Chromebooks by end of 2012 if they are properly marketed. Whether Google will do this or not remains to be seen. Google is pushing Android for the consumer market, and so far Chromebooks have only being marketed aggressively sold to education, libraries, and businesses with server based IT systems eg. help desks, information terminals etc. The outlets, pricing and spec of Chromebooks are part of this. Consumers need to try before they buy, especially on something as revolutionary as Chromebooks, but Google only sells them on online retail outlets, and they have to pay a premium price for outright purchase. It is clear that Google sees these sales only as a means of making Chromebooks available to early adopters to try out before larger education or business rollouts, rather than mass market sales. The specs are also not intended for the consumer market. The build quality is high, and battery life gets priority over minimising cost or games performance, which is essential in schools or businesses where reliability, ruggedness, and long battery life are important, and games and video media consumption less so, but not ideal for a consumer device.

    Tom's Hardware is by definition nerd central, and it is not surprising that the posters seem completely clueless about the real selling point of Chromebooks. Chromebooks are ZERO MAINTENANCE DEVICES. They are for people who don't want to spend time on maintaining or learning how to configure Windows, troubleshoot hardware, updating the OS or applications, installing apps, etc. They just want to switch on the computer and use it. This is the complete opposite of what any self respecting nerd - myself included - buys a computer for. Nerds want to hack the hardware, the OS, tweak and overclock everything there is to be tweaked to squeeze out every last benchmark score point, install and run applications they are never actually going to use for real productive use, just to prove that the computer can run it etc. This is why they buy computers, and this is what their enjoyment of computers is all about. The thing is that most consumers consumers of computers nowadays aren't nerds and want a computer free of the maintenance hassles and user learning curve associated with Windows. Chromebooks have proved successful in school trials precisely because they are zero maintenance, and they have proved to be viable for large scale deployment in schools where Windows was not because they can operate without a desktop support IT team and without teachers wasting time on desktop support and maintenance instead of teaching. The same benefits apply to the vast majority of consumers who buy computers, and if Google's own nerds (and Google is basically an all nerd company) can get its heads out of the nerd mentality, Chromebooks will be a huge consumer success. What we need is a cheap ARM based Raspberry Pi (perhaps with a dual processor) SOC selling for $100 or so, or a $35 Raspberry Pi board built into or as a plug in option for every TV or high end monitor, so it can be used as a standalone Internet terminal or thin client for RDP, or Citrix.
    20
  • razor512
    people still use chrome books?

    I don't see how they could have ever thought they would be successful. What google essentially did was take a netbook, install a less functional Os compared to windows, then charge twice as much for the netbook.
    19
  • Wave Fusion
    I thought the chief issue with these machines was that they are just paperweights without internet access.
    It wouldn't for example, let you go to a hotel wi-fi splash login screen because of related issues..
    13
  • Other Comments
  • Wave Fusion
    I thought the chief issue with these machines was that they are just paperweights without internet access.
    It wouldn't for example, let you go to a hotel wi-fi splash login screen because of related issues..
    13
  • razor512
    people still use chrome books?

    I don't see how they could have ever thought they would be successful. What google essentially did was take a netbook, install a less functional Os compared to windows, then charge twice as much for the netbook.
    19
  • tupz
    Yep. I still use my CR48. It's great. It's for the user that knows how to utilize "the cloud" properly. It'll catch on as time goes on.
    -5