Two gadgets that began shipping last week represent assaults from Google on the dominant model of computing, in which we use a cursor and a keyboard to manipulate boxes and windows on a virtual desktop. Samsung makes the hardware for both: the Series 5 Chromebook notebook, the first computer with the browser-only ChromeOS, and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, whose operating system is the latest version of Honeycomb, the tablet edition of Google's Android mobile operating system.
These products have arrived at a pivotal moment for computing. Steve Jobs popularized the phrase "post-PC era" to describe what's supposed to come next, with the iPad displacing the window-driven, desktop-focused experience that the word "computer" conjures up. Now Google too is offering alternatives to that experience, taking on traditional computing with a pincer movement of tablets and Chromebooks. That the two are advancing together may be either an accident or a deliberate attempt to establish distinct post-PC categories—all we know for sure that Google likes to experiment publicly.
The Galaxy Tab
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a close match for—some might say it mimics—that proven PC-skewering weapon the iPad 2. The tablet that I reviewed is a special edition, with Android logos on the back, that was handed out to developers and lent to journalists at the Google I/O conference last month. You can buy it without the decoration for $500 with 16 gigabytes of storage or $600 with 32 GB. It's WiFi-only for now, but a version with a cellular data plan is due out soon.