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Review: Google's $199 Laptop Is a Champ

Fan/noise/heat: The $249 version runs cold as a fish and has no fan. This one has a fan and generates heat like all other typical laptops. This also means that there's a moving part that can fail, unlike the $249 version.

Ports: The $199 Acer version improves on the $249 Samsung by adding native Ethernet, one extra USB (three instead of two) and analog video output. What it misses is an SD card slot and cellular/GSM SIM card slot/modem.

Storage: The $199 Acer is the first Chromebook to have a spinning hard disk, 320 gig in this instance. All other Chromebooks have a 16 gig SSD. Given the nature of Google Docs, I don't see any need for anything other than 16 gig, and SSD obviously beats HDD in terms of speed and reliability. Why anyone would need 320 gig or anything remotely close to it in this cloud-centric architecture is beyond me. Must have been a cost issue.

Verdict: The $199 Laptop Is a Breakthrough

Reviewing a Google Chromebook is like reviewing a General Motors' (GM) Chevrolet Volt: You end up with hundreds of comments where 99% of those who comment have never used the product, but . . . they are 100% sure that the product sucks. It's just like the iPhone reviews from the Summer of 2007.

The bottom line is that if you use your laptop to surf the Web, process your Gmail, work in Google Docs and want to do securely and with no maintenance or administrative hassle, a Chromebook is for you. Whether you should pick the $199 version, $249 version or the $449 version is up to you. In my book, all of these Chromebooks get very close to a perfect 10.0 on a 10.0 scale, all in relation to their price, of course.

The biggest tax hike in memory is coming. Can you afford not to make your next PC a Google PC?

At the time of submitting this article, the author was long AAPL, GOOG and MSFT.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
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