Review: Kogan Agora Chrome OS powered laptop


After nearly two years of development Google are finally ready to release their most interesting project to date, Google OS laptops, with Kogan releasing the World’s first offering, the Agora, at a very reasonable price of£269. The latest buzzword in the tech world is ‘Cloud’. Google’s OS laptops takes this idea to the next level with Notebooks that have no apps, no desktop – just Google Chrome and its impressive range of online application.

Kogan’s Chromium OS laptop is based on the popular Agora hardware, adds a Solid State Drive, and lets users operate entirely in the cloud, and boots in an impressive 4.5 seconds. What this means is that the laptops are running on a feature-laden version of the Internet browser of the same name: Google Chrome. The web-friendly laptops come with no desktop or in-built applications or programs, but instead allows users to do everything might want to do on web-based Internet programs like the impressive Google Docs.

The whole principle is that anything you need to do on an application you can do on the Internet, now this sounds totally plausible – whether it actually works in the real word is another thing. The specs of the Notebook aren’t important as there are no programs to load, it won’t need a proper hard drive as you save everything to the cloud.

Ruslan Kogan said: “What we’ve found from talking to our customers is that many of them are already using cloud services without even realising it. They’re uploading photos to services like Flickr, storing all their contacts in Gmail, and even hosting files on DropBox.

When you load up the Kogan Agora Chromium Laptop it is going to be strange experience for your average Windows or Mac User, Kogan are sure that once you get settled you’ll be totally at home. They said: “Loading up a laptop with Google’s open source software can be strange at first. However it is clear that everyone from casual users to pros are embracing cloud services with all their personal computing needs.

“The real beauty is that no matter which Chromium powered computer you’re on anywhere in the world, it will appear exactly as you expect, tailored to your needs.”

Google is also working hard to ensure that Chrome integrates seamlessly with all Android based devices so their will be a real continuity between Android and Chrome making an eco system that will rival ‘normal’ desktop laptops. Kogan Agora Chromium laptop comes with a 30GB solid-state drive just in case it’s so sunny you can’t find a cloud. HDMI support, so you connect you flatscreen TV to watch films from the laptop to your TV, and the laptop is also sporting a 12-inch LED screen.

It’s easy to stay connected anytime and anywhere with built-in Wi-Fi or by turning your Google Android or Apple iPhone into a hotspot. As your Kogan Agora Chromium laptop boots up, it quickly connects to your favourite wireless network so you’re on the web right from the start.

You will receive the same experience everywhere as your apps, documents, and settings are stored safely in the cloud. So even if you lose your computer, you can just log in to another Kogan Agora Chromium Laptop or any other Chrome laptop and get right back to work.

Every Kogan Agora Chrome-powered Laptop runs millions of web apps, from games to spreadsheets to photo editors. Thanks to the power of HTML5, many apps keep working even in those rare moments when you’re not connected. Visit the Chromium Web Store to try the latest apps, or just type in a URL. No CDs required.


Chrome OS preview

So what is Chrome OS? Not to be confused with Google’s browser of the same name, it’s a Linux-based operating system, which has been designed to work with web applications. It won’t be available to download, but will only be shipped on certain hardware from Google’s manufacturer partners.


Since it was announced last year, the techie world has been anticipating the launch of the first laptop – but we won’t be seeing that until next year now. Instead a lucky few (developers, early adopters and users who are used to using beta software) will be trying the OS out in a pilot programme that Google says was aimed at people who “live on the web”.

What makes Chrome different to the likes of Apple’s OS and Windows is that it is aimed at those who spend most of their time on the web. “We think cloud computing will define computing as we know it,” said Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive officer. “Finally there is a viable third choice for an operating system.”
Google’s Sundar Pichai said the software is not yet ready because there are unfinished features (Google Cloud Print, for instance, is not stable enough yet) and bugs that have to be ironed out.

Consumer devices are due from Samsung and Acer in 2011. They will be powered by Intel chips but no prices have been announced as yet.
Here’s a list of some of the browser-based operating system’s unique features:

* Cloud-based printing using Google Cloud Print
* Fast startup/boot time (less than 60 second the first time you fire it up)
* Profile sharing: A Chrome OS computer can be shared with others and accessed on other Chrome OS devices via guest profiles.
* 3G access: All Chrome devices will ship with 3G. The 3G is powered by Verizon and there will be no fees
* More security: Chrome OS will use OS-level sandboxing and data encryption. It can also detect malicious code and get rid of the bad code.

All very exciting stuff, however, Paul Buchheit, who developed Gmail and sold his own FriendFeed to Facebook, reckons that Chrome OS will die, or be gobbled up by Android. In a tweet he said: ‘Prediction: ChromeOS will be killed next year (or “merged” with Android)’.