“What good is an operating system that requires the internet at all times to work?” Asked a lot of people when Google unwrapped its more limited (yet desktop/laptop-focused) counterpart to Android a few years ago. Despite this negative reaction overall, the prospect of an OS that only displays websites, runs web apps (flash games, Google Docs, etc) and appears practically immune to viruses seems like a good idea for those who only need those things (perhaps your grandmother, for example).
Chrome OS, despite some recent updates to the contrary, is still fairly unusable offline, though, which makes things like LG's announced Chromebase system an arguably better choice for the OS than the swarm of netbooks we've been seeing up to now. The Chromebase is an all-in-one PC with a 21.5” display, surely making the device weighty enough to keep people from lugging it somewhere where there's no WiFi or wired LAN connection.
The 21.5” screen is a 1920x1080-pixel resolution job with IPS, allowing for Full HD YouTube videos and 178-degree viewing angles for those watching with you. Fuelling this screen is a Haswell-model (read: recent) dual-core Intel Celeron chip and 2GB of RAM backed with 16GB of storage space. Meanwhile, you have four USB ports (with one at the 3.0 spec), stereo 5-watt speakers, and an HDMI input. That input would allow you to plug in another PC and use the Chromebase as a monitor.
All of that is indeed enough to run Google's “Gmail, Drive, Search, Maps, YouTube, Play or Google+ Hangouts,” among other things like Microsoft Outlook.com with its built-in version of Skype, and, of course, Angry Birds. Will all of that be enough for you? LG says they'll be showing off the Chromebase at CES 2014 from January 7 to 10.
One hopes for a price tag south of $500, but we'll see. Displays with the higher-quality IPS technology command a premium over the omnipresent TN-based ones, and LG is trumpeting the fact that they're putting out the “world's first all-in-one” Chrome OS machine, which is correct.