Google Announces Cr-48 Chrome OS Notebook-Here’s How to Get One for Free (Maybe)

Google's recently unveiled Cr-48 Chrome OS notebook

Yes, Google's Cr-48 notebook is beautiful and blissfully logo-free. No, you can't buy it. (But you might be able to get one for free. Maybe.)

Yesterday Google had themselves a big ol’ press event all about their Chrome OS. You may recall that this is Google’s browser-based operating system “for people who spend most of their time on the web.” Not surprisingly, the highlight of Google’s event yesterday was the anouncement of the first Chrome OS computer, the Cr-48. (We’re totally digging the old-school Cr-48 name, by the way.)

The first Chrome OS computer will be a notebook, and an attractively minimalist one at that. It even excludes a caps lock key to prevent your grandparents from sending more of those yell-y, telegraph-style emails they’re so fond of. The Chrome laptop’s specs are pretty decent, too. It rocks a 12.1 inch screen, WiFi and global 3G data (Verizon in the US), a webcam and flash-based storage. The battery will allegedly last more than 8 hours, which is pretty impressive, as is its ability to power on instantly.

In a classic Google twist, you won’t be able to buy the Cr-48, however. Instead, they’re giving them away for free (including free 3G data!) in a public beta testing program. Here’s how you can sign up to (maybe) get one.

Getting on the list to maybe get a free Google Chrome OS notebook is actually quite easy. All you need to do is go to Google’s Chrome OS Pilot Program web page and sign up. The questions are fairly brief, and they’re mostly interested in how you do things like create documents, access email, listen to music and watch videos on your computer. Considering that Chrome OS is all about being web-based, we’re thinking that if you want be selected to get a free Cr-48 notebook you’ll want to emphasize your use of web-based apps, preferably of the Google variety.

That said, there’s a decent chance Google’s also looking for a decent number of testers willing to switch from the “legacy” Microsoft or Apple apps installed on their own computers, so being honest probably won’t hurt you either. Considering that Google allegedly has 60,000 laptops to give away, your odds probably aren’t too terrible no matter what.

If you end up as one of those very few unfortunate people who don’t get a free Chrome OS notebook from Google, don’t worry too much. Acer and Samsung will have Chrome OS computers for sale sometime next year, and if you need a laptop sooner than that, we know a place.

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