Chromebooks arrive in the UK; are they useful for PC gamers on the move?

Adam Oxford


Before you ask, no it can't play Crysis 2. But the fact that Samsung's Series 5 laptop went on sale in the UK today is still significant news. For it's the first machine to run Google's Chrome operating system, and a glimpse into the future.

Overseas readers may be aware that the Chromebook has been available in the US for just over a week now, and Google says that it's already pleased with sales figures - although exactly what that means we'll have to wait a bit longer to tell.  For those who aren't familiar with the concept, Chrome OS looks remarkably like the Chrome web browser, and for all intents and purposes the Samsung Series 9 is little more than a screen onto the web.

I find the perception of Chromebooks a little odd, since with a 16GB SSD inside and an Intel Atom processor there's little to technically differentiate this from my ageing Eee 901 netbook. Crucially, it's about the way Chrome handles local installations - ie it doesn't let yet you do it. Everything is browser powered.

I haven't really played around with the Chromebook yet. It looks nice, and at £349 for a WiFi version or £399 for the 3G is well priced. The WiFi version seems superfluous, mind: surely you need 3G to use it when you're out and about.

Personally, I'm not sold on the idea. I recently bought an ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, which has become my constant travelling companion. That combines the speed and convenience of a tablet with a near full size keyboard and works fine. It has put me off Google Docs almost forever though. It's the only Android office app which doesn't have an offline mode, so unless you're connected to the web (and the 3G signal on the train from my office to London is terrible), you can't work. A combination of anything else and Dropbox makes much more sense.

Still, what we're interested in here is gaming, and while I wouldn't suggest looking at the Chromebook just because you can get Angry Birds on it. But that doesn't mean that the situation won't rapidly improve. A cloud gaming service would help; couple it to something like OnLive and suddenly things start to make a bit more sense. Maybe not now, but at some point in the future perhaps.

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