NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- This week marks the anniversary of the first Google laptop. Yes, that first one, called Cr-48, available for approximately six months, was only given to enthusiasts, journalists and other de-facto beta-testers for free, but still it provided allegedly over 60,000 people with real-world experience of this revolutionary product. That initial Cr-48 model in December 2010 was followed in June to Julythis year by commercially available models from Samsung and Acer. I have not seen any reporting on how many were sold, most probably from Amazon and Best Buy, the two main outlets of availability to date. Prices have ranged from $300 to $500 for different models.
After a long period of using three different Google laptops -- one for a year, and two others for approximately six months each -- I can report that all of them get a 100% reliability and 100% zero-maintenance score. Even the otherwise-revolutionary Apple iPad isn't nearly as easy to use and trouble-free as a Google laptop. And like so many tens of millions of people, I revere the iPad and give it a verdict very close to a flawless 10.0. Follow TheStreet on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.
I have both Mac and Windows laptops, but when I leave my office to head to a cafe or perhaps a meeting, and I want to bring a laptop, I almost always bring the Chromebook. Why? Primarily two reasons: (1) It's faster, booting up from cold in approximately 10 seconds and no delay thereafter, and (2) It's more secure if I should need to connect to a WiFi network -- which I seek to avoid at all cost. Speaking of connectivity, if you buy the Samsung version of the Chromebook for $450 from a place such as Amazon or Best Buy, you get two years worth of Verizon EV-DO service included, although only 100 megabytes per month. That may not even last you a day, depending on what you're doing, but is a nice lifeline in case you don't have your own separate "MiFi" (portable WiFi router) or if you want to avoid a potentially unsecured WiFi network. You can then add more Verizon data on a pay-as-you-go basis, if you want to consume above 100 mg. For example, five gigabytes is $50.
Google seems to have marketed the Chromebooks mostly to geeks, schools and enterprises. We have no good idea about how much it's been selling. Anecdotally, I hear school districts and various classes of enterprises buying them. I imagine Google has better marketing and distribution plans in store for 2012. I recommend the Chromebook for many kinds of situations:Elderly people, kids, employees and people in general who are unsuited to the task of proper PC maintenance. The $450 price for a Verizon-enabled Samsung Chromebook is very reasonable, and I think it may just present the best $450 you can spend on technology in the market today.