All right, so I've had a chance to play around with things on this Cr-48 Chrome OS notebook, and have discovered some interesting details and features.
There is an ambient light sensor to the right of the camera. I noticed this the other day as I was moving the notebook around and the screen was changing brightness. The screen dims when the room is dark and vice-versa. I'm easily amused.
I found and flipped the developer switch under the black tape and battery. (Warning: this erases your data partition, but you're "in the cloud" anyway so it shouldn't matter a whole lot.) Now whenever booting up I'm greeted with a "sadface" blue notebook saying that verification is turned off, and have to press Ctrl-D to skip it -- but for the benefits I think that's a minor annoyance. Developer mode lets you use the terminal and grants root access; no need to "root" the device via some hack or security issue.
Speaking of partitions, it has twelve! The first is the "state" partition that stores all of your local data. Interesting to note is that all of your Chrome data (history, passwords, etc) is encrypted with eCryptfs and is mounted on login, so if someone were to steal your notebook you'd still be safe.
The next six partitions are copies of the OS. Partitions 2, 4, and 6 contain boot kernels, and 3, 5, and 7 contain the OS data itself. This is to safeguard against a failed software update; the bootloader will detect when one parition fails to boot and should (if I'm reading this right) fail over to the next. This also allows you to install a custom OS on the third set of partitions: see the Chromium documentation for information on how to install Ubuntu.
Partition 8 is marked "OEM," and I'm not entirely sure if it's even used on this model. 9, 10, and 11 are all "reserved", and 12 is the EFI system partition.
I think I'll keep this in developer mode for a while and see if there's anything else interesting to uncover. It can be a pain to switch back and forth since on first dev-mode boot you have to wait 5 minutes for it to erase your user data, but that's a safe precaution.
A few days ago, I ordered a book for my classes next quarter on Amazon. Came back home today thinking that it might have arrived, and found a package on my doorstep. I quickly opened it up to make sure it was the right book, and, wait... what is that?
Well, that's some interesting packaging... let's see if the book is still in there... wait... WHAT?
Oh my. That's one of those fancy Cr-48 "Pilot" notebooks. On my doorstep. And in my hands.
A little backstory: a few days ago, I noticed a small banner on the top of Chromium, asking if I wanted to help test out Chrome OS. "Sure," I thought, "why not." Filled out a quick developer application and submitted, not thinking much of it. Never did I believe I'd actually have one in my hands.
Let's dive in. Here's the small info sheet:
Fun fact: this thing comes with 2 years of free data on Verizon, up to 100 MB per month. I just had to create an account and on it went. I think that's pretty damn sweet.
Quite a snazzy boot screen. It takes only a few seconds for it to turn on cold. The thing is rumored to be able to idle for a week. I've left it idle for quite some time already, and I still haven't even charged it.
Here's the sign-in, which uses your Google account, or allows Guest mode, which is basically Incognito.
And here's that keyboard that is causing Internet flamewars:
Beautiful, in my opinion. No caps lock, and the F-keys have been re-purposed for a netbook.
Finally, here's the main screen. It's Chrome, with some applications pre-installed. The moment I first signed in, I was automatically connected with Gmail, Talk, and a plethora of other services, all which can be managed on this home screen. Interesting thing to note is that the Settings dialog on Chrome/Chromium is a set of webpages here, with some OS settings added in.
I loved this line in the safety card: "This product contains small parts, which may present a choking hazard to small children, as well as men who have not emotionally matured."
All in all, this is a pretty sweet setup. I've found and reported a few bugs already, but my experience has been great. Huge props to Google for getting one of these sent out less than 48 hours after I filled out the form. Heck, thanks Google for sending one, period. You've got me hooked.
(Aside: I'm going to be switching around blogging engines here, so there may be some broken links every now and then. I apologize in advance.)