I received a free one from Google via the Citrix Synergy event in San Fran. in 2011. After one year of non-use, it is being given to a dev friend in Canada next month when I meet him in Chicago. I found a Web site that showed how to wipe the device so all personal info is gone.
To me, the Chromebook makes a good paperweight or doorstop.
Our school has invested in 40 Chromebooks, and the teachers using them love them. The students also love them since any work they do on them is available at home on their computers with Google accounts. Also, if apps are downloaded via the Chromebook, those same apps are available at home on Chrome Web browsers.
These computers are light and have no drives. IT loves the ease of set up. We even have teachers setting up printing on their own without a lot of IT intervention. We certainly see some use to them and we're glad to see desktop models now available.
Regarding your advocacy for Windows laptops, we have some of those as well. But they require much more maintenance and IT attention than our Chromebooks. Our Chromebooks are working very well, even better than iPads.
I got a free Chromebook in the mail and was elated...until I used it. It is just a browser in a box. I use it occasionally for browsing when I travel because it is light, but I do not use Google docs so it isn't useful for work. It doesn't have a network jack, so it isn't useful for network-related work. I refuse to pay for the 3G account, so unless I have access to a WLAN, it isn't good for much.
The most depressing thing is that there really is no way of opening anything off of a USB drive because the file manager is so convoluted and hard to find. Until I find a Linux distro that I want to try on it, I am using it for a paperweight.