A Chromebook is a personal computer running Google Chrome OS as its operating system. The devices comprise a distinct class of personal computer falling between a pure cloud client and traditional laptop. The first devices for sale, by Acer Inc. and Samsung, were announced at the Google I/O conference in May 2011 and began shipping on June 1
Executives involved with Chrome say Google doesn’t care if it takes years for the Chrome operating system to catch on. (Google also calls its Web browser Chrome.)
The Chromebox is ready to go from Amazon for $329.99 while the Wi-Fi version of the Series 5 550 is available for $449.99 and its 3G counterpart is up for $549.99.
The revamped Chrome operating system, announced Tuesday by Google, plays high-definition video, has a rebuilt trackpad and is even designed to work on future touch-screen models.
Meanwhile, the desktop, called Samsung Chromebox Series 3, has an Intel Celeron B840 dual-core processor running at a clock speed of 1.9GHz, 4G bytes of RAM, a built-in dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n antenna and a Gigabit Ethernet port. It also features six USB 2.0 ports, a DVI single link output, a 2x DisplayPort++ Output compatible with HDMI, DVI, VGA and compatibility with Bluetooth 3.0 technology. It costs $329 and doesn't include a monitor, keyboard nor mouse.
At the software level, the new machines will feature what Google calls an "apps-centric user interface" that will feature, for example, a simplified app launcher, the ability to have multiple windows open for multitasking and support for screen sizes ranging from 11 inches to 30 inches.
As Wired Enterprise notes, [Google's] Sheth acknowledges that it’s difficult for some people to wrap their heads around a machine where all applications reside on the web. That’s why the company has added a traditional desktop interface to Chrome OS.
Today, the company announced that there are now 500 school districts in the U.S. and Europe that actively use Chromebooks. The company also announced a few new districts that have recently decided to use Google’s web-centric laptops, including Rockingham Country Schools, N.C., Transylvania County Schools, N.C., and Fond du Lac School District, Wis.
“After all, you can’t install software on a Chrome machine. And if you lose your internet connection, you still lose the ability to use most applications. Gmail now works offline. And Google Docs, the company’s document and spreadsheet app, lets you view files offline. But you can’t edit files offline. What’s more, even when you have a connection on a Chrome OS, your ability to move files from application to application is still quite limited,” Metz writes.
Like Ultrabooks, Chromebooks are based on Intel processors, and it would make sense for Google to get hardware makers to manufacture Chrome OS-running versions of Ultrabooks
This new version features an Intel Core chip, as well as 4GB of RAM, an HD camera, two USB 2.0 ports and a 1280×800 display. Pricing starts at $449 for the WiFi-only version.
The new Chromebooks do offer several new features. Users will finally be able to view Office files, both online and offline, though they still can't do any editing. The devices will also come with Google Drive built in, and the ability to edit Google Docs offline will roll out in the coming weeks (to all Docs users, not just Chromebooks owners).
Chrome OS-based machines began shipping commercially about a year ago from Samsung and Acer.