Among the many announcements at Google's I/O developer conference were the final specs for the Chromebook, a new bare-bones notebook based on the Chrome OS platform. Your data is stored in the cloud, not on a hard drive, and all computing is done through the Chrome web browser and its apps, allowing instant-on capability and an "all-day battery," according to Google. For this you will pay between $349 and $499.
The notebooks will be available June 15 on Samsung and Acer platforms, which will boot up in about 8 seconds and update automatically. Presumably there will be more hardware to come if the platform is a success.
The $499 Samsung model comes with a free 100 MB per month of 3G mobile data from Verizon — a fairly paltry number, but one that should allow users to accomplish minor tasks when they can't access Wi-Fi. Beyond that, there'll be a pay-as-you-go 3G service. There's also a $429 Wi-Fi-only model. Both Samsung notebooks feature a 12.1-inch display, Intel Atom processor (1.66GHz, according to PC World), a full-sized keyboard and an oversized clickable touchpad. The Acer model has an 11.6-inch display and weighs slightly less, at 2.95 pounds compared to Samsung's 3.26. They both have the regular SD card slots, USB ports (for cameras and storage), speakers, and headphone jacks.
Those specs are pretty similar to your everyday netbook, but as Chrome OS was specifically designed for this sort of low-power computing, it'll run much smoother than, say, Windows 7, and do it with tablet-like battery life as well--the Samsung Chromebook is rated at 8.5 hours of battery life, and the Acer at 6.5. At least, that's the idea. Chrome OS is basically just a browser — all of your work is done through the browser and the web apps (sort of like beefed up, super functional websites) therein. Want to watch Netflix? Open a new tab with the Netflix web app. Want to email? Use the email web app. Want to browse through files or edit photos? There are apps for that, too.
Of course, this being a Google product, the idea of openness was stressed — anyone who wants will be able to flip a Chromebook into developer mode and mess around with it however they please. That's very different from Windows or Mac OS, or, for that matter, mobile OSes like iOS, which have to be "jailbroken." There's no jail to break in Chrome OS, just a friendly switch Google pretty much encourages users to hit.
Some HTML5-capable apps will run even when the laptop isn't connected; Crunchgear points out that Google has been using offline versions of Gmail, calendar and docs. That's important, because without an internet connection, Chrome OS is otherwise essentially useless, just like a web browser without a connection is useless.
Chromebooks won't have the capabilities of a Windows laptop or even a tablet, which are comparably priced, so at first glance it's hard to see how they could possibly compete. But their cloud capabilities and modest ambition could be their biggest selling point. Rather than buying a more powerful desktop, laptop or even tablet, you can use the Chromebook as a portal to data stored elsewhere — which, as we saw again this week with Google's Music Beta, is becoming increasingly easy (if not necessarily secure). A Chromebook could be a simple way to access subscriptions to sites like Netflix or Hulu, manage your photos, and access cloud drives for music, without having to worry about pricey, more powerful processors or terabyte Seagate drives.
While Windows 7 computers in the same price range can technically run more strenuous and advanced apps, they can't really run them well, while Chrome OS is designed to be perfectly suited to its few simple tasks. Google's aim is to strip away all the stuff casual users typically don't even use, and then enjoy the performance bump from such a streamlined system.
In an acknowledgement of this potential, business users can rent them for $28 a month, either for software-as-a-service or hardware-as-a-service. The rental package will include the notebooks, a centralized control console for IT admins, and tech support, PC World says. Students will be able to rent them for $20 a month.
But tablets and laptops can be used this way, too. So for the same price as an iPad 2 and way pricier than Samung's own Galaxy tablet, we're still waiting for the Chromebook's wow factor. We were hoping it might be price — at $250, a Chromebook would definitely be preferable to an equivalent notebook or netbook. But at $500, we're wondering what the real attraction is.
$500 to buy and pay through the nose for all the add-ons.
@hollycow what add ons. its bare bones and intends to stay that way. since you didnt read the article I will help: "But their cloud capabilities and modest ambition could be their biggest selling point. Rather than buying a more powerful desktop, laptop or even tablet, you can use the Chromebook as a portal to data stored elsewhere"
Its best not to think of this as a laptop. just like a tabelt and netbook all have their place, so does this, its just looks like and is called a laptop.
not my cup of a tea, but neither is a airbook or xbox kinect, but both are very cool.
Eh... I have to say this is disappointing. I was lucky enough to be one of the testers who was given a Cr-48 (from which I'm typing this, actually). It's been my only computer, actually, since my from-parts desktop crashed and my Macbook Pro was stolen.
Was it a Godsend? Absolutely. Would I get another one? Of course, they're useful for almost everything I ever need to do. For five hundred dollars? Not a chance.
For that much I can buy an entry-level Laptop from nearly any manufacturer short of Apple, which has more hard drive space than this -and- an Operating System which, though I adore the Chromium OS, in this case must be noted as a bonus.
The Chromebook's sole advantages over other operating systems are that it can power on faster (which it can) and that it has longer battery life (which is true, without a doubt). But given that it gains those benefits at the expense of both an expansive hard drive and any serious performing power, I feel like it should be placed more in the price range of $200-300.
Otherwise, you'd probably be better of buying an entry-level laptop from another manufacturer and just -installing- the Chromium OS on -that-. I find it hard to believe that you won't reap the benefits of the longer battery life, although it's entirely possible that the zippiness of the powering-up of the operating system is due to their SSDs (I'm assuming the new models will possess them, as the Cr-48 does). It's possible that the newer models will possess unforeseen benefits that the Cr-48 doesn't have, but I'm skeptical on that front. I've never felt any significant lack from my Cr-48, even if it's only a test model.
Even if the SSDs are the reason behind their expense, though, I find myself wondering if I could justify to myself spending half a grand on something that literally only does the web. It's a wonderful way to compute, and I feel it should be adopted on a wide scale; but I also believe that that can only be possible if this is -made- widely available, IE, cheaply.
tl;dr --- I have a Chromebook, and while it's beautiful, I would be unlikely to pay >$300 for another. They should definitely be made cheaper if widespread adoption is their game - which it should be.
Hello fellow pilot-tester. I am in high agreement with your post. I love my cr-48 (which I also am typing this on), but I don't think it's something I would really spend a lot of money on. The CR-48 is light, grippy, HUGE battery life (though marked as about 8 or 9 hours I get more like 15-16 hours of constant use, and about 3-4 days of standard use.), and boots up instantly. These market releases are sure to be even better, but I still once in a while have to put my notebook aside and use another computer (or hell, sometimes even my phone) to get the functionality I want. Not quite worth the price they have tagged on it.
This thing is cool the acer is $350 with a solid state drive (ssd) which is really really nice also, has a dual core atom and when they say all day battery life they mean 8 hours and what is most interesting is you get free internet! for about two years after you activate it, although its only 100mb its basically meant to replace notebooks and with all these added stuff it should do a good job hopefully
Yeah, I still don't get it. What's the need for a quick boot when there's suspend, anyway? What's the immediate advantage to the consumer in storing all data in the cloud? The battery life is impressive for how thin the thing is, but if it's just a variant of Gentoo Linux that only runs the Chrome browser, then wouldn't you get the same battery advantage running any particularly lightweight Linux environment and Chrome?
This is going to be a total fail. Why? Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD. This is a typical thin client that has less functionality than any of its competitors. There is nothing revolutionary about a PC that forces you to use a web browser only.
Google you guys aren't the cool kids on the block anymore. This is like trying to sell Google colored ice cubes to an Eskimo.
@SolomonSinclair "This is going to be a total fail. Why? Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD"
maybe. but apple tried to bring a tablet computer to the market TWENTY years ago.
there is a time and place. google is hoping that is now. I think its just a test to if now is that time.
but the price does seem steep. I think I would rather just pick up an ipad. but I have a netbook (for the time being) that does just fine for my ultra portable needs.
Google has the money to try things like this. and if it works, it will help their cloud computing movement they are trying to spear head.
hey this is real handy....til ur wireless device malfunctions...or the server is down...or ur isp is having network issues...bet its going to be great something for someone, just not me. ill stick to my old hard drives and SSDs that way its still worth something when theres no internet
let see there will be an internet connection of some kind, then you'll need to buy more hd space 100mb isn't enough. How about software, they will be happy to charge a monthly fee for that. These three items alone will cost 50 to 100 dollars per month. So this 500 dollar computer will cost 1000 the first year and 500/year after that.
i find security to be a huge issue, storing all my data, ina seperate area on the web. I don't care that you tell me its secured. before to long someone will hack it and or add viruses to ruin this system. trouble in the making!!
This interesting but I love my iPad 2. Can't see this coming anywhere close to the iPad2.
But it's a decent start for something. Physical keyboards just seem so primitive now.
100mb is the amount of free data a month. not the hard drive space. and you are WAY exaggerating the cost of owning one.
physical keyboards are tactile, don't take up screen space, AND YOU CAN PUSH BUTTONS EVEN IF THE DEVICE/COMPUTER FREEZES! they are not primitive. and you can't accidentally hit a key by brushing it with your finger. sure, they take up space. so do your hands. that's why keyboards are the size they are. can you type on the ipad2 like you can on a laptop? no! you have to hunt-and-peck, because it's form factor and size don't allow you to type normally!
Very interesting readings about the Google's Chromebook Specs. By the way It's totally impressive construction of a new bare-bones notebook based on the Chrome OS platform. Thanks!
If you are considering Chromebooks but don't want to leave your Windows apps behind, you should look at Ericom AccessNow, a pure HTML5 RDP client that enables Chromebook users to connect to any RDP host, including Terminal Server (RDS Session Host), physical desktops or VDI virtual desktops – and run their applications and desktops in a browser.
This means that you can use AccessNow for instant, turnkey web-enablement of most any Windows application. Running entirely within a browser, AccessNow works natively with Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer (with Chrome Frame plug-in), Firefox and any other browser with HTML5 and WebSockets support.
Ericom‘s AccessNow does not require Java, Flash, Silverlight, ActiveX, or any other underlying technology to be installed on end-user devices. In addition, IT staff do not have to manage / maintain separate product versions and updates for multiple clients (end-point operating systems) – an HTML5 browser is all that is required.
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I am sitting here typing this on a HP Elitebook 8440, without Microsoft Office installed. It is connected to a cloud server and can not function without that connection. Please tell me why my company can't buy the equivent of a "Dumb terminal" instead of investing in full function laptops w/o software? When I started working I had a VT100 terminal hooked up to a mainframe. I remenber getting my first DOS desktop and being liberated from the IT department. Now here I am again. I agree with the writers who say the cost of thse Chrome toys is rediculous. If the cloud is the future, who ever developes a full siZe dedicated cloud computing laptop for about $250 will make a fortune. No more laptops or desktops. The only reason Chrome devices are so high is that they are Toys instead of Tools. Give me a 16-17 inch screen, full siZe keyboard with keypad, wifi and a memory stick. Don't need a DVD drive or Core i5 processor, or 5 gig memory.