Mountain View, California -- Google is quiet on how many Chromebooks have been sold since launching the cloud-based computers with laptop-makers Acer and Samsung nearly a year ago. Although, the early machines failed to capture mainstream, the search engine leader Google, on Tuesday rolled out two new Chromebook computers with a slew of new features that may help the company in its challenge against Microsoft's dominance over the corporate desktop.
Indeed, much of the brouhaha in the portable computing sphere these days surrounds the “Ultrabook” class laptops evangelized by Intel. But the recently unveiled computers are more powerful than the first Chromebooks Google introduced last summer, and add applications and other tools the first version lacked that may make CIOs take another look at the brand.
More so, when it comes to operating systems, the chatter focuses on Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 or Apple's Mac OS X Mountain Lion. However, the earliest Chromebook always seemed more like a statement of intent than a finished product. It was a demonstration of the long-term direction Google was heading in: towards a fully browser-based world.
Interestingly, Zdnet notes that the Chromebook recondition features better hardware, upgraded software and improved handling of cloud documents. CNET's Stephen Shankland has hands-on experience of hits, runs and errors with the Chromebook. In a nutshell, Google's Chromebook is improved, but still out of the mainstream.
Google's Chromebox. Credit: CNET
Today, the search giant unveils two models what it calls “the next step” for the Chrome OS platform, both from Samsung, both with Intel Core processors. Chromebooks are based on Google’s stripped down Chrome Operating System, by which users may access web-based applications from Google and other vendors. Its lightning-fast browser, rapid start-up and wake-up times, long battery life and built-in anti-virus protection proved the point that Google was trying to make: a stripped down, Web-centric laptop really shows up how kludgy the traditional laptop experience has become, with its software bloat.
Moreover, the new line includes three new Chromebooks and the Chromebox, the first ever Chrome OS-based desktop computer. All four run the latest version of Chrome OS, which includes a variety of new features designed to vastly improve the user experience. The computers, fitted-out with only 16 gigabytes of flash storage, are designed to encourage businesses to use its Google Apps software as an alternative to Microsoft Office. Next month, Microsoft is scheduled to launch Windows 8, a major upgrade to its operating system.
Nevertheless, Google claims to be “very happy” with Chromebook sales to date, indicating that the computers routinely show up on Amazon's best-seller lists and are gaining ground in education and business.
Admirers of attractive notebooks can now explore all four new Chrome OS machines that are pretty reasonably priced. The most expensive model--the elegantly-named Series 5 550 Chromebook (3G) -- will set you back $549.99. All four are currently available on Amazon and Newegg.
Furthermore, Google is charging $329 for the Chromebox desktop and $449 for its Chromebook notebook, plus $150 each for lifetime support and upgrade costs. “If you look at the hardware and ongoing support costs and infrastructure, the Chromebook is pretty attractive so long as people can live without a Windows desktop,” Forrester analyst Dave Johnson told CIO Journal. And even if CIOs can not live without Windows software, they can still run Windows apps on Chromebooks via a partnership with virtualization host nGenx.
Check out their prices on Amazon below:
Image Credit: (WebProNews)
The latest Chromebooks and Chromebox are available on Amazon and Newegg in the U.S. and PC World and Currys stores in the U.K. If you want a more hands-on experience, you may be in luck. Meanwhile, Google is planning to increase the number of Chrome Zone centers they have in Best Buy retailers across the country.
For more information, you can check out Google's announcement here. You can also check out their video introducing the new Chromebooks below: