David the main idea of the Chromebook, which they try to convey in the name, is that it’s for running Chrome, period, and being able to do everything you do in Chrome on a conventional computer on the Chromebook. Boot it up in eight seconds, let it run for eight or nine hours at a clip, log in with your Google account and bam there’s all your stuff whether it’s your Chromebook or another, all your extensions, Chrome Web Store apps, your history, the printers to which you are connected to through Google Cloud Print, 100GB on Google Drive, your Picasa, Google Maps, Gmail, pretty much every Google web-based service, many of which are fantastic and very widely-used. Enough of them to satisfy the computing needs of most people. Maybe not you and me, certainly not as our primary computer, but most people. Like all those things you see on Google Chrome’s very excellent television ads? Don’t worry, they all work on Chromebooks as they do your computer.
If you can do it on Chrome, you can do it on a Chromebook. Vice versa.
As for “immature,” it’s as mature as Chrome is, which by the majority of accounts is that it’s superb. It runs the stable build of Chrome, it updates on its own without interrupting you, just like on your computer. The hardware’s maturity? Though I’ll concede they forgot about the caps lock key technology (thank God), Samsung and Acer and the others know how to make a laptop, the specs on this one are nothing to sneeze at not just because it will only set you back $249 but because it has enough horsepower to run Chrome and all the things people do with Chrome. I wouldn’t recommend opening fifty tabs on it, which I’m guessing you’d want to be able to do (like me) with at least your main computer, but watch Youtube on it, edit video with the Youtube Video Editor, go to town with Picasa (and its USB ports, 4-in-1 chip reader, HDMI out etc), check out the full-fledged Tweetdeck, Google Music, video conference with Gmail, Google Voice, Google+ and so forth.
As for being a beta tester as you put it, Chrome does run the stable version of Chrome, but if inclined you can run the beta/unstable/testing/canary versions of Chrome (I run all four). Meaning it’s for people who run Chrome and for people who like to beta test the browser. Wake up David, the world’s getting more and more web-based by the second.
As for offline, yes it is more helpful to have an Internet connection on one of these things than it is for a conventional computer, but you’ve got your Gmail offline app, Google Docs offline, read the NYTimes articles the app grabbed when it was last online, play games from the web store, good enough to hold you over until you’re either out of a cellular dead zone (if you want the cellular versions of these laptops, an extra eighty bucks or so) or are on wifi – all of which you can do on your Mac or PC laptop by the way, which may be among the reasons their trying to blend in these laptops with Chrome and not Android. If you don’t have Internet and live in the middle of nowhere and love doing the xray effect on chicks in white t-shirts in Photoshop (check google images), don’t get a Chromebook. But, want your mom to stop calling you every week for help with her computer? Get her a Chromebook, it will pay for itself after a few months’ worth of phone bills, not to mention the value of your own time. But it’s not just for yo momma.
As for calling it a second-rate operating system, note that the centerpiece is the web browser and its bustling ecosystem and the web itself. Most people don’t know what a web browser actually is, certainly not an operating system, but more people are now familiar with Chrome than IE, so referring to it as a laptop for Chrome or a web browser device makes more sense than trying to dissect operating system maturity and if Android makes more sense for this product. The operating system is apparently good enough to let you log in and use the very same version of Chrome that’s on your computer, the purpose of the device. And again, it boots up in eight seconds and lasts a long time on a charge. What’s the problem?
Need to do work stuff and neither Google Docs on or offline or Office365 will cut it? Among the applications on this web store is the Chrome Remote Desktop client, which you can also run on your PC or Mac instead of installing a VNC or RDP client. Got a VPN to jump through and want to remote into your office with RDP on any operating system? I’ll bet this can do that too (actually I googled it). Really like Microsoft? Go to the Chrome web store and search Microsoft. Apparently Chrome is enough of a hit to attract developers from your camp, and so are Chromebooks as they accelerate away from slow-burner territory, just as Google’s doing in the tablet game.