NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I'm typing this product review on what may be the best value for the dollar of any computing equipment in the market today. Now that you may have to pay higher income tax, higher Obamacare tax, higher capital gains tax, higher dividend tax, higher gift tax, higher death tax and higher state sales tax come Jan. 1, it may also be theonly new laptop you will be able to afford.The days of the $999 or $2,799 MacBook Air/Pro are soooo 2012. In theinterest of "fairness" and "a balanced approach", the government willnow claim tens of thousands of your hard-earned dollars, cutting intoyour discretionary income. Your trips to the Apple ( AAPL) store and the Microsoft ( MSFT) store will soon be as much a memory as Tsar Nicholas II's trips to the St. Petersburg Winter Palace after Lenin's 1917 power grab. But do not despair! There's still a small plot of a private gardenthat can keep you alive even after the government takeover of the restof your private property. In the laptop world, this is called theAcer Chromebook C7, aka the $199 Google ( GOOG) laptop, which went on saleearlier this week.
4. Google Talk, Google Voice: For communications. I don't know about you, but this is pretty much 99% or 100% of what Ido on a laptop. For my portable entertainment needs, I have an AppleiPad, among other things. The Apple iPad and the Google Chromebookcomplement each other like a latte and a croissant -- except one is alot less expensive than the other, in this case. Obviously, you also get the other advantages of every Chrome OS PC:Security, automatic backup, automatic updates, multi-user ease of use,fast boot-up and shutdown. This is the kind of PC you can hand to your 2-year-old or 102-year-old family member and be relieved that you don't have to make "tech support specialist" into your second job. The Chromebook is for everyone. But I think you get the message here: The Chromebook -- whether this$199 variant, or the $249 or the $449 versions -- is for work. It isnot your optimal gaming machine. It is not a toy. It is not ascience lab supercomputer either. It's a work tool that is reliableand works all the time, requiring zero maintenance in its life. I'mtyping this article on it -- which I would never do on an iPad, andfor which a Windows or Mac would be total overkill.
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 videooutput. What it misses is an SD card slot and cellular/GSM SIM cardslot/modem. Storage: The $199 Acer is the first Chromebook to have a spinninghard disk, 320 gig in this instance. All other Chromebooks have a 16gig SSD. Given the nature of Google Docs, I don't see any need foranything other than 16 gig, and SSD obviously beats HDD in terms ofspeed and reliability. Why anyone would need 320 gig or anythingremotely close to it in this cloud-centric architecture is beyond me.Must have been a cost issue.
2012 HOLIDAY GUIDE: How to Survive (and Enjoy) the 2012 Holiday Season