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商业 - 科技

手里只有谷歌,生活将会怎样

JP Mangalindan 2012年08月07日

如果在一周的时间里只使用谷歌的产品,既不用苹果也不用微软,那会是怎样的?听起来很困难吗?我试过了。这就向您汇报一下我的体验。

    要想住在一个由谷歌(Google)主宰的世界里,可能还得花时间适应一下才行。

    我说的并不是谷歌搜索、Gmail、或谷歌文档(Google Docs),因为上百万的用户都已经在使用它们了,其中也包括我自己。我指的是能不能把我们的日常生活完全托付给谷歌日益扩张的产品生态系统,这种事我以前从来没有认真尝试过。

    我去年曾经用过一阵由英业达代工的谷歌CR-48笔记本(用得很不爽),我也曾亲自评测过巴诺(Barnes & Noble)的Nook平板和亚马逊(Amazon)的Kindle Fire平板,但它们使用的都是安卓(Android)系统的定制版本。现在谷歌几乎在科技的各个领域全面出击——比如无人驾驶汽车和现实增强眼镜等。因此我想知道,我能不能完全只依靠谷歌的设备过上一个星期。

    所以在获得了谷歌的一些帮助之后,我开始了这次尝试。我把我的苹果MacBook Air笔记本束之高阁,取而代之的是一台三星Series 5 Chromebook 550笔记本,又拿我的iPad换了一台Nexus 7平板。然后让我的iPhone 4休息几天,换了一台Galaxy Nexus手机。然后收起我的Roku 2 XS机顶盒,用上了传说中的Nexus Q。谷歌还好心地借给《财富》杂志(Fortune)一台有点像Mac Mini的Chromebox台式电脑。不过由于我经常在家工作、去城市各处开会,还需要用一套额外的鼠标和键盘,因此我基本上只是使用Chromebook笔记本。以下就是这一周发生的事:

    好的一面:谷歌设备上最新安装的Android 4.0是一套非常流畅的操作系统。不仅操作起来非常容易,而且基本上我在iOS平台上用过的每一款应用程序,从Nike+ Running到Flipboard,都可以在Android 4.0上使用。另外由于Galaxy Nexus安装了一块明亮的4.65英寸屏幕,因此内容显示起来也很清晰,让我的iPhone相形见绌。在健身房的跑步机上看视频网站Hulu或Netflix,正是像我这样经常走神的写手爱干的事。归功于Galaxy Nexus的清晰大屏,我能获得更好的观看体验。

    评测人员对Nexus 7平板电脑给出了很多褒奖,原因很好解释。这款由华硕(Asus)代工的7英寸平板电脑轻易地就盖过了Kindle Fire的风头。带凹点的橡胶后盖手感出色,屏幕犀利明亮,操作快速灵敏,基本上一上手就会爱上它。同时它比iPad更小巧、更轻盈,因此把它塞进我的公文包里也不是问题。如果非要鸡蛋里挑骨头的话,那么首先缺乏3G或3G版算是个瑕疵。另外我也希望能有更多针对7寸屏的应用诞生。

    一般之处:去年当我第一次报道谷歌的Chrome操作系统时,我曾说这个系统的概念“并不像它听起来那么牵强。”随着越来越多的云服务流行开来(比如流媒体音乐服务Spotify就是其中一例),现在更证明了我当初的论断。有了Chrome OS以后,谷歌更加重视云服务,而不是储存在硬件里的内容。谷歌有许多在线服务,从理论上讲,这些服务的用户并不会在意这种转变。(科技界的许多人都认为,这种转变毫无疑问代表着未来趋势。)

    不过在执行中,第一代的Chromebook笔记本却相当令人失望。由于元件运行速度非常缓慢,因此观看高分辨率视频时简直令人难以忍受。软件方面也不怎么样,一次只能打开一个浏览器窗口,不过可以打开多个标签。

    第二代Chromebook与第一代相比有了明显的进步。首先它有一个像桌面一样的环境,而且用户可以同时打开多个浏览器窗口,底部边栏还有快捷方式,可以打开Gmail、即时通讯工具Trillian等“网页应用”。

    不过对于那些认为电脑就应该具备现代化使用体验的人来说,他们或许依然觉得改良后的Chrome OS操作系统不够令人满意。在同时打开多个应用的情况下,机器还是有些吃不消。许多应用要想正常工作仍然需要某种网络连接才行。(比如,虽然谷歌承诺通过软件升级,可以实现离线使用谷歌文档,但我自己的评测单位还没能实现这一点。)同时,可选择使用的应用仍然相当少。我在用这台笔记本写文章、做调查、和同事通过即时通讯工具聊天时,我都希望手头上有一台功能齐全的电脑,真的,哪怕是任何一台功能齐全的电脑都行。

    Living in a Google-run world takes some getting used to.

    I'm not referring to Google (GOOG) search, Gmail, or Google Docs. Millions of users have already taken that plunge, myself included. I mean day-to-day life within the (largely) open-sourced walls of Google's ever-expanding product ecosystem. That's not something I'd ever seriously done before.

    There was a brief, angsty fling with the CR-48 laptop last year. (That didn't end well.) I also cozied up to tablets like the Barnes & Noble (BKS) Nook Tablet and Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle Fire for a while, but those used customized versions of Android. I wondered, given Google's irrepressible desire to develop for nearly area of tech -- self-driving cars, augmented reality eyewear -- whether I could get by using only Google devices for a week.

    So with some help from the Mountain View, Calif.-based company, I gave it a try. I shelved my Apple (AAPL) MacBook Air for one of Samsung's Series 5 Chromebook 550 laptops, traded my iPad for a Nexus 7, gave my iPhone 4 a rest in lieu of a Galaxy Nexus,* and tucked away my Roku 2 XS for the enigmatic Nexus Q. Google had also been kind enough to loan Fortune a Google Chromebox, a desktop Mac Mini-like computer. But given my penchant for taking work home, taking meetings around the city, and the need for an additional mouse and keyboard, I ended up exclusively using the Chromebook. Here's what happened:

    THE GOOD: Android 4.0, running on the very latest devices, is a smooth operator. It's extremely easy to navigate, and virtually every app I used on iOS -- from Nike+ (NKE) Running to Flipboard -- is available here, as well. Even better, content shines on the Galaxy Nexus thanks to its bright 4.65-inch screen, which dwarfs my iPhone's. Catching Hulu or Netflix (NFLX) on the treadmill at the local gym, as this A.D.D.-suffering writer is wont to do, was an even better viewing experience because of that.

    Critics threw a lot of praise the Nexus 7's way, and it's not really hard to see why. The ASUS-manufactured 7-inch tablet easily eclipsed the Kindle Fire. Yet, between the rubbery, textured backing, the sharper, brighter display and brisk navigation, it was pretty much love at first swipe. Also, because it's smaller and weighs less than the iPad, tossing it in my bag was no big deal. If there were two small quibbles, one is there's no 3G or 4G wireless option. I also wished there were more apps tailored for that particular screen size.

    THE SO-SO: When I first reported on Google Chrome OS last year, I said the underlying concept "isn't as farfetched as it sounds." That's even more true now, as more and more cloud-based services -- Spotify, for one -- become popular. With Chrome OS, Google emphasizes cloud-based services over content stored on the hard drive, which in theory, users of Google's many online services wouldn't mind. (Lots of people in tech think this is the undoubted future.)

    In execution, the first round of Chromebooks proved disappointing, throttled by components so slow watching high-definition video was unbearable. The software wasn't much better. You could only open one browser window, albeit with tabs.

    The second round of Chromebooks are a major leap forward. There's a desktop-like environment where users can open multiple browser windows and a pane at the bottom with shortcuts to say, Gmail and other "web apps" like Trillian instant messenger. The hardware has been improved, too, so playing video is a breeze and you can have tens of windows and tabs going, no problem.

    But those who take the modern computing experience for granted (read: virtually everyone) may still feel sandboxed by this new and improved Chrome OS. Getting around multiple applications still feels unwieldly at times. Many apps still require some sort of Internet connection to work. (For instance, while Google promised offline use of Documents via software update, my own review unit has yet to get it.) Also, the app selection remains pretty poor. Even as I wrote stories, did research, instant messaged colleagues and the like on this laptop, I longed for a full-featured computer -- really, any full-featured computer -- to use.

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