People have been waiting for Google to come out with an iPad competitor.
The Google Chromebook is not it.
Instead, Chromebook is the long-awaited competitor to the standard notebook PC. It's designed more as a Microsoft killer than as an Apple killer.
Chromebook addresses many of the shortcomings of a PC:
Big Windows operating systems take forever to load. Chromebook takes eight seconds.
Windows gets slower as you keep adding annoying updates and fixes. Google promises that its system will actually get faster as it automatically updates itself.
Windows faces millions of viruses. Google promises "many layers" of security so you never have to buy anti-virus programs. I'm sure the security systems will also automatically upgrade as well.
Still, you have to use Google apps. This is a computer designed to run in the cloud, where programs and documents are stored. I use mostly Google apps, so won't be much of a problem for me. EXCEPT: Google Docs is OK, but needs work. I have trouble with losing the formatting when I save docs as MS .doc files. I prefer OpenOffice from Oracle, a free program that has weaned me nicely from MS Office.
Larry Dignan at ZDNet has a first impression review. He loves the speed, doesn't like the rubbery case, print driver still in beta, and is not yet comfortable doing everything online.
Ed Baig at USA Today also has a review. Can't stream Netflix movies. (That's Netflix's fault. It doesn't support Chrome browser. I have to switch from the Chrome to IE to stream my Netflix. Either Microsoft is paying Netflix or the Google evangelists have to hit Netflix hard.)
These are just first impressions, because the device ain't done yet.
The big question is if cloud computing has reached the point yet where people are willing to live there instead of in their PC. To me, the biggest obstacle is the MS Office installed base. I need to exchange files in tracking mode with editors and keep the formatting exactly the same.
But if this does work, I believe it will be the next generation of computing. iPad is a different beast. The old DOS/Windows computers are an ancient, slow technology that needs to be replaced. I hope it works.
The devices will go on sale this summer.
ADDENDUM: Oh, and one really great feature I forgot to mention. Since everything is stored in the cloud, including apps and files, you don't have to back anything up. If your computer is stolen or if you drop it and smash it to smithereens, you just get a new device, turn it on, and everything is still there, intact.