Google Inc. (GOOG)
is looking to finally launch its first laptops running its new
Chrome Operating System (Chrome OS) on June 15. Two models were announced on Google's Chrome OS
homepage, coinciding with an unveil at Google's I/O Conference.
I. The Hardware
The first notebook (or "ChromeBook" in
Google-speak) comes courtesy of Taiwan's Acer Inc. (2353). It
packs an 11.6" back-lit LCD screen, an Intel Atom N570 1.67 GHz dual-core
CPU, Intel integrated graphics, 16 GB solid state drive, two USB ports, HDMI
out, built-in webcam, and 4-in-1 memory card reader.
The small laptop weighs 2.95 lb (1.34 kg) and
offers a 6 hour battery life on a fully charge, according to Google.
It starts at $349 USD for a model with Wi-Fi only,
or an undisclosed additional amount for a 3G-enabled model.
Slightly more expensive is a second design
from Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (005930).
The Samsung notebook comes with a larger
12.1" (1280x800 pixel) 300 nit display. Similar to the Acer model it
includes a 4-in-1 memory card reader and 2 USB ports. It upgrades to a HD
resolution webcam, and ditches the HDMI port for a Mini-VGA port.
It weighs 3.26 lb (1.48 kg). Thanks to a
larger battery, it can get an estimated 8.5 hours of use time out of a charge.
The Samsung design starts at $429 USD for a Wi-Fi
version and $499 for the 3G model. The slightly higher price seems
unsurprising given Samsung's notebooks tend to be pricier
II. OS and Other Thoughts
What about the onboard OS?
Chrome OS is a unique
Linux distribution that's built solely around Google's Chrome browser.
Apps including games, word processing software, and more, all run
inside the browser. File browsing and system configuration is also
accomplished through a built-in browser interfaces.
For customers, the new operating system may be
appealing from a standpoint that it offers a Linux distribution backed by a
tech giant. In that regard it offers the most visible alternative to the
Microsoft Corp./Apple, Inc. (AAPL)
PC operating system duopoly to land in recent history. Google certainly
has the pull with hardware makers to potentially create a large selection of
models in the long run, as well -- as shown with its dominant Android smart
That said, many were hoping to get a cheaper,
smaller netbook, along the lines of the
Atrix 4G convertible, priced closer to $200 USD. And it would have
been nice to get a variant with an ARM processor, as in the mobile sphere ARM
processors tend to be cheaper and offer superior battery life to Intel's Atom
At $350/$430 Intel-powered Chrome
notebooks/netbooks may struggle to establish themselves amid a sea of Windows
notebooks and Apple's high profile offerings.