Monday, May 16, 2011

Introducing the Google ChromeBooks

Today at their I/O conference Google announced two new ChromeOS powered devices called ChromeBooks, one built by Samsung and the other by Acer. Like the CR-48 pilot program Google launched six months ago (which I'm using to write this post) these new ChromeBooks will feature the full size Chrome Keyboard, fast boots and of course the ChromeOS.

The Samsung and Acer ChromeBooks will be available June 15th from Amazon and Best Buy and they will feature many hardware improvements over the pilot program devices including dual-core Atom processors, a better track pad and longer battery life - for all day computing. The dual-core processors should allow for better streaming of movies, something that is incredibly painful today on the pilot devices.

I was a little surprised at the prices for these new devices. The larger Samsung (which I find visually appealing) starts at $439 with WiFi and $499 with 3G antenna. The smaller Acer starts at $339 with WiFi and $399 with 3G - if I remember these amounts correctly. While I understand Samsung and Acer need to make a profit on these devices the problem is they are roughly equivalent to prices of tablets like the iPad and Playbook. You can get an iPad v1 for $350 or a v2 for $499. Maybe Google knows better but it seems like this might cannibalize sales of their competing Android powered tablets?

On the software side Google plans to release an update to ChromeOS that will feature: a new file system manager, media player for local videos and music, integrated plug-ins for uploading and playing media. We should see more off-line applications including Google Docs, Calendar and Mail. Also mentioned improvements were in the Java engine and Netflix streaming.

Personally as a user of the Chrome Pilot Notebook this announcement is both exciting and upsetting. I can't wait for the ChromeOS updates / improvements but I also really want the hardware improvements. I hate having to put up with this track pad and a faster processor would certainly make for better streaming of shows. I guess it could be worse; I could be Microsoft seeing my dominate position in operating systems being eroded. =)

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