New Lower Cost Samsung Chromebooks Arriving Next Week
Google announced today that it is now possible to preorder new Samsung Chromebooks.
The consumer-oriented Chromebook is a laptop that connects to the Internet in order to use applications and is based on Google's Chrome OS Web-connected operating system. A couple of applications will work offline, namely the Google Docs productivity suite and Gmail, according to Google's ad materials. Otherwise, Chromebook users need a Wi-Fi or 3G wireless broadband connection in order to access their applications. Users buy all of their applications from the online Chrome Web Store, although the devices come with some "built-in" applications, namely Gmail, Google Drive (a cloud-based storage service), YouTube, a media player and photo editor.
Today, a Google blog post indicated that two new Samsung Chromebook models can be preordered, with general availability in retail stores happening next week. Amazon, Best Buy and PC World are taking preorders, but the devices will be available next week from those outlets as well as Best Buy stores and Currys (in the United Kingdom).
Samsung is offering two Chromebook models. The 11.6-inch display (1366 x 768) Samsung Chromebook with dual-band Wi-Fi starts at $249. The 12.1-inch display (1280 x 800) Samsung Chromebook 550 with dual-band Wi-Fi and a Gigabit Ethernet connection starts at $449.
The lower priced Samsung model is a little thinner (0.8 inches) and lighter (2.5 pounds) than the Chromebook 550 model. Both have fast boot times of eight to 10 seconds, plus the unique security protections enabled by Chrome OS. The higher priced Chromebook 550 is sold with an option to add a 3G modem for broadband wireless connections. In addition, the Chromebook 550 comes with 4G of RAM and a high-definition camera.
Although the devices come with solid-state drives (sizes not specified), users get access to 100 GB of Google Drive cloud storage to lodge their files. However, that 100 GB of storage is only free to use for two years. After that time, Google charges monthly fees depending on the user's storage needs. Google Drive pricing is listed here, but if it's possible to just use up to 5 GB of storage space, then Google offers that amount for free.
The new Samsung devices arriving next week appear to be priced about $200 less than the Samsung models that first hit the market in June of 2011. At that time, Acer had also rolled out a Chromebook device. Acer's AC700 Chromebook wasn't described in today's announcement but a spokesperson for Google stated that it is "still available from some retailers." A check at Amazon.com shows that the Acer AC700-1099 Chromebook is "currently unavailable."
Google's approach with Chrome OS promises a world where consumer users don't have to worry about software updates and can run applications without having to install and maintain antimalware software. It's a total cloud version in which Google promises better security for average computer users because of the way the Chrome OS locks down the system (users can't install software except through the Google Web Store).
Google's direct all-in-the-cloud approach still remains to be tested, and trusted, but it seems at this point to be mostly aimed at consumers, rather than business users. Meanwhile, future devices based on Microsoft's Windows RT operating system also will depend on a locked-down Windows Store app delivery model. However, future Windows RT devices will allow the installation of line-of-business apps through a multistep process that Microsoft calls "sideloading," and they don't depend on a constant Internet connection.
Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.