ChromeOS: Gateway to portable productivity
Up until the last few years the only devices on the market were all full operating system work horses. However the majority of us would easily sacrifice functionality for portability. This statement has been backed up by the increase of market demand for tablets and ultrabooks over the years.
When netbooks first came out they were running Window XP with an Intel Atom Processor. I was one of the early adopters, getting a first model Aspire One, and at the time I was blown away. I remember comparing it to the first ASUS EE, and the other offerings at the time.
In recent years netbooks have been replaced by ultrabooks, and tablets. Being a person that likes a physical keyboard I was put off from the tablets, and the ultrabooks always seemed expensive for a touch screen I was never going to use.
Power Users and tablets
Taking a side step for a moment. I know I am more of a unique customer than most. I believe the keyboard will always be a faster mechanism to productivity than a touch screen. I cannot live without a physical keyboard. Most power users of computers usually have this kind of mentality. So the form factor of a netbook is more suitable than a tablet.
The great part about the advances in web technologies over the few years is that most power applications have become browser oriented. Most of my development work can now be done in a browser, which expands my use of a low profile device. ChromeOS brings a natural browser experience to applications that can work both online, and offline.
ChromeOS has a great expanse of apps that can work both offline and online. The list of apps includes RDP clients, hundreds of workflow management tools, and various coding IDE's. Most Chromebooks are very portable, and very inexpensive. Plus the 7 second boot time, and 8 hour battery life (on average) is amazing.
Crouton for local development
If you wish to do offline development crouton (basically ubuntu Chroot) can provide you a more full operating system for Chrome. This is a great way to maintain the lightweight basic ChromeOS while having immediate access to a more full operating system experience. This is obviously a basic hack to the ChromeOS, but it provides a great way to create applications locally. I think most people who get a Chromebook are blown away at how much is possible without the ubuntu sideload.
The old school approach to coding on the go is still viable. The RDP experience (if you don't mind windows) provides a full desktop session remotely. For intensive coding projects on the go this was always my alternative for working on projects everywhere. ChromeOS has more than one RDP application in the Chrome store, and most of them do a great job.
Chromebooks offer inexpensive way to leverage both cloud, and offline technologies to provide productivity, without sacrificing portability.