You've probably seen already that the Cr-48 is black (try the link above if you haven't seen it yet). I have nothing against black. Black is cool. And the Cr-48 is very black. Google kindly included a colorful sticker to add a little style to that very black black. That sticker and a couple of others I had lying around personalize my new toy nicely. (If anyone from Google is reading: I need more Googley stickers, and I won't even charge you for the ad space! May I humbly suggest one that reads "Ask me about Chrome OS"?)
This isn't a great picture because: a) I'm not a great photographer and b) it was taken with a camera phone. I uploaded it from my Android phone directly to Picasa and did what I could with Picnik to crop and clean it up on my Cr-48.
External monitor wonkiness
I hooked up an old monitor and a couple of USB peripherals to my Cr-48 to see how those devices would work with it.
The monitor worked, sorta. I plugged it in and hit the "mirroring" key, which made the display on my Cr-48 go blank. But the image that appeared on my monitor wasn't quite right. I expected stretching or a letterbox since the monitor wasn't widescreen. What I got was a letterbox copy of the Cr-48's display, but it was vertically aligned on the bottom of the screen, instead of the middle. It also looked pinched. A while later I shutdown and stepped away from the Cr-48, leaving the monitor hooked up. When I powered up again, both the Cr-48 and the monitor displayed the screen image, and the monitor was adjusted properly for the different aspect ratio. This is more like it! But I couldn't leave well enough alone, so I unplugged the monitor and hit the mirroring key again. The display on the Cr-48 came back. I plugged in the monitor and hit the mirroring key yet again. The display switched to the monitor. I continued to fiddle with it for a while but I couldn't figure out how to get them both to display again without shutting down the Cr-48. So, this feature needs a little tweaking.
The mouse worked exactly as expected. No drivers to install.
I was hoping that I could at least browse audio/visual media with the USB card reader, but no such luck. It didn't seem to recognize the device at all. Not sure if this is supposed to be supported yet. The Cr-48 does include an SD card reader, which is probably the most common form factor in use today. I would guess that's all the card reading most users would need.
Watching high def video
I visited The Daily Show to try high definition video streaming. The playback was a little choppy in places, but I don't know if that was down to hardware or software. After I had the video full-screen for a while, the playback controls stopped responding to clicks and I couldn't pause. I alt-tabbed out and the audio kept playing, but then I couldn't get back in to the window with the full-screen video. The tab that launched the video just showed a black box, where I would have expected the video to return to it's non-full-screen state. Closing that tab stopped the audio playback.
And even though I had already read that it wouldn't work, I went to Netflix to try streaming a movie. They don't support Chrome OS yet. I have heard that there's an Android streaming solution in the works, which I can't wait to try.
Best feature ever
I love this one: pressing ctrl+alt+/ opens an on screen keyboard. Big deal, right? It isn't like this thing has a touchscreen (or does it...? I haven't actually touched the screen). The cool part is that the labels on the keys change as you press and release the modifier keys (shift, ctrl, alt). That is just so awesomely useful. Why doesn't every application do that? Note to Google: ctrl+alt+c needs more cowbell.
Chrome Web Store
I have looked at the Chrome Web Store a couple of times and even installed an app from it, but I haven't really used the store enough to give a reasonable evaluation. Maybe I'll be able to do another post about that this weekend.