I wasn't sure about the appeal of Chromebooks until having this demo unit through work to play with. I can now completely see the appeal, and I'll be saddened when my unit has to be returned to the generous supplier.
As a netbook, the ASUS Chromebook CB5-571 (catchy) comes with the Chrome OS preinstalled. The idea behind google's notebook OS is that everything runs using a selection of Web Apps, rather than relying on downloads and installed software to perform tasks. This means the hardware can be much more lower specified, resulting in cheaper up front costs. Never the less, the CB5 is equipped with a 1080p screen, 2GB of RAM and a 32GB SSD. The processor is an Intel Celeron 3205U.
Now that internet in the UK is actually becoming up to scratch, running software is no longer the issue it may once have been, and I never found myself in want of storage space or processing power to run any of the apps I needed to. If you're invested in Google's architecture already (Google Docs, Slides etc) then everything is as you'd expect and more importantly, where you'd expect it. I was also able to use document editors from Office 365 as well, so compatability was never an issue.
The unit has been described as feeling/looking quite cheap, but I personally like the clean white modern plastic housing for the machine, reminiscent of one of the early Macbooks. The keyboard was comfortable, but the trackpad did feel cheap, making a horrible noise when tapped or clicked. A bit annoying.
The unit powered on to the sign on screen in a matter of seconds, and I didn't experience any lag whilst running the device at all, and found that for light use over the week the battery stood up excellently well. In fact I'm not sure I've had the charger out of the box!
There are a few key apps in the Chromebook store like Google's version of office, but as this becomes ever more populated the credibility of these machines will only improve. And for a penny under £200, these really are a viable alternative to a tablet, especially if you want something a bit more serious and do a lot of keyboard work.