Hands-On With Virgin America's Chrome Zone

Hands-On With Virgin America's Chrome Zone

Eric Chen
Sep 22, 2011

A while back we covered the Chromebook loaner service by Ace Hotel in NYC. Well, Virgin America also offers the same service for the low low cost of free. Basically, you can check out a Google Chromebook for use in the terminal and on the flight. We tried it out on our recently flight, read on to see what we think!

The Chromebook offering from Chrome Zone is the Samsung Series 5, the higher end of the two models available (the other is an Acer). Armed with an Intel Atom processor, it's basically a netbook that was all the rage just a couple of years ago. However those of you that keep up with tech news, know that this machine is more about its software than its hardware.

The Chrome OS is a super lightweight OS that doesn't require a lot of processing power. But it is basically a Google Chrome browser used in full screen mode. It goes with Google's vision of a fully cloud based computing with all your apps available on the web, like gmail and Google docs. This also means that the Chromebook is super easy to use, no matter if you're coming from Windows or Mac. Also you sign on to Chrome using your Google log-in, so all your contacts are synced. This is especially useful if you use the Chrome browswer, all your bookmarks are synced too! But the Chromebook itself is really just a small part of what makes this service special.

As many of you already know, Virgin is one of the airlines that offers in-flight wifi. But as we learned on our first Virgin America flight, the wifi service will cost you a pretty penny. But with the Chrombeook loaner, we can access in-flight wifi for free. And did we mention the Chromebook loaner is also free? Next time we fly Virgin, we'll definitely leave our notebook in our carry on and opt to get in the Chrome Zone.

The only grudge we had with the service is that it is only available at select airports (for now only at Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and Dallas). Since our flight was from Chicago to Los Angeles, we were only able to use the Chromebook in the terminal. Regardless, we definitely think this is an added bonus, and will be one of the deciding factors for the next flight we book.

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