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Google Chrome Portables Upgrades Hardware

ARM-Based Chromebooks Ready To Battle Windows 8, Tablets 230

Nerval's Lobster writes "Google is whipping the proverbial curtain back from its new Chromebook, which will retail for $249 and up. The Samsung-built device weighs 2.5 pounds and features an 11.6-inch screen (with 1366 x 768 resolution), backed by a 1.75GHz Samsung Exynos 5 Dual Processor. Google claims it will boot up in under 10 seconds and, depending on usage, last for 6.5 hours on one battery charge. From a product perspective, Chrome OS and its associated hardware found itself fighting a two-front battle: the first against Windows PCs and Macs, both of which could claim more robust hardware for a similar cost to the old Chromebooks (which started at $449), and the second against tablets, which offered the same degree of flexibility and connectivity for a cheaper sticker-price. By setting the cost of the new Chromebook at $249, Google continues that pricing skirmish on more favorable terms." CNET got a bit of hands-on time with the new kid, and gives it a lukewarm but positive reception.
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ARM-Based Chromebooks Ready To Battle Windows 8, Tablets

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  • by mattbee ( 17533 ) <matthew@bytemark.co.uk> on Thursday October 18, 2012 @05:59PM (#41699135) Homepage

    For £300 I got an Atom-based netbook with an 80GB SSD, 4GB RAM, slightly smaller screen and 9 hour battery life. It can run Chrome, and a lot of other things. What's the ARM bringing to the Chromebook, if it can't give far better battery life?

    • by mattbee ( 17533 )

      Oh I misread ... obviously $250 is nearly half of £300, ish. Am still surprised that the ARM doesn't stand for better battery life though.

      • by chill ( 34294 )

        The missing factor is the physical size and weight of the respective batteries. I expect Google doesn't prizes smaller/thinner/cooler over longer charge once it passed about 6 hours.

      • I believe I've heard that in mobile computing, the largest consumer of power is the LCD screen itself.

        I'm also not sure which version of Atom you're referring to, but the original one was paired with such a crappy chipset that it basically negated most of the power savings.

      • The Intel Atom CPUs actually have pretty low power usage compared to ARM. The Intel powered RAZR i has better battery life than the ARM powered RAZR M (identical hardware besides the SoC). The performance of the Intels isn't quite as good in mobiles, but that's partly down to optimisation.
    • Well, the intel-based one was even more expensive when it came out, IIRC it was approaching £500. This - the cheaper ARM version - is what they should have done in the first place, though arguably the price is still a bit too high for a dumb terminal that can't be used on an aircraft.

  • by cait56 ( 677299 ) * on Thursday October 18, 2012 @06:03PM (#41699183) Homepage
    This hardware at this price running Linux, Android, Windows RT or even iOS would be a great bargain. What I have not yet seen in any promotion of a Chromebook is how well it works as a basic document editor when I'm *not* connected to the Cloud. If I need a lightweight mobile editing device with a permanently attached keyboard (which I cannot accidentally leave behind) then I need that portable document editor to be able to work even if the WiFI at the conference I am attending isn't working yet or is just plain overloaded. Adding a carrying case with a bluetooth keyboard, and software, to my Nexus 7 comes out way ahead Microsoft Surface. If this Chromebook ran Android, it would come out ahead. But have they really enabled Chromebooks to work effectively when detached from the network yet?
    • This hardware at this price running Linux, Android, Windows RT or even iOS would be a great bargain. What I have not yet seen in any promotion of a Chromebook is how well it works as a basic document editor when I'm *not* connected to the Cloud.

      The Chrome browser (including Chrome OS) has considerable support for web apps that operate offline. Using it as a "document editor" offline depends on the kind of document you are editing and the availability of a web app that supports editing that kind of document

    • This hardware at this price running Linux

      It is hardware running Linux. You can even install Ubuntu if you want.

    • If it runs "standard" Linux, then I presume I can run GNU emacs and LaTeX. Issue resolved

  • by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @06:07PM (#41699233) Journal

    ARM-Based Chromebooks Ready To Battle Windows 8 and Android Tablets

    Sometimes I just have to sit and scratch my head wondering at some of the things these self-destructive companies do. Chromebook is for simple, inexpensive, low-end devices. Is iPad any of those things? No. Are the new Windows 8 tablets? No. The only other devices in the same category as Chromebook are eReaders like Kindle and Nook (both running a modified version of Android), and "actual" Android Tablets like the Google Nexus. Just fragment your own market there as much as possible, Google.

    • by kwerle ( 39371 )

      I agree - though it'll be interesting to see what the iPad mini brings, next week. With the touch at $200 and the pad at $400, it seems like $300 for the mini is a pretty solid guess.

      While there are plenty of reasons for *me* to prefer a chromebook, the truth is that I have a laptop already. The rest of my family would probably be much better off with a tablet, and the iDevices pretty much have that nailed down.

    • Given the number of sales of Chromebooks they aren't really fragmenting anything.

    • by Eskarel ( 565631 )

      Google isn't fragmenting their market because they don't sell tablets, they sell advertising based on all the personal information they collect.

      Fundamentally the problem for Google is that android is just too damned useful. You can do things on it that Google isn't made instantly aware of and without Google showing you advertising. So instead they're releasing crippleware crap no one is going to buy.

    • The only other devices in the same category as Chromebook are eReaders like Kindle and Nook (both running a modified version of Android), and "actual" Android Tablets like the Google Nexus.

      I have a Chromebook, and I have a Nexus 7 tablet (and, actually, I also have a Galaxy Tab 10.1 which doesn't get much use since I got the 7), and they are *not* in the same category. The Chromebook is a laptop. It looks and feels and works like a laptop, except that it only "runs" web apps (which isn't quite the same as saying it only runs a browser, but close enough). However, given that 95% of what I do with a laptop is web apps, that's plenty. The tablet is a tablet; it's good for (very) light e-mail

      • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

        Install CloudRDP into Chrome. Admittedly it does cost a small amount, but provides a proper RDP client (all of the others require a middle man somewhere). Then just enable remote desktop on your desktop.

    • I think Google announced this in reaction to Amazon's WhisperCast introduction. Whispercast has the potential to put lots of Amazon devices (Fire, Kindle e-ink readers) into schools. I think that's exactly the audience that Samsung/Google are looking for here.
  • I believe Microsoft has better chance fighting Android with Windows Phone than Google has fighting Windows with this... thing.

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @06:16PM (#41699323) Homepage Journal
    No touchscreen, shit for local storage, locked in to Google web apps...

    Nah, I'll save my next disposable $250 for a Nexus 7.
  • Google has zero clue how to design much of anything. Failure after failure shows this.
    You must have a seriously impressive resume to legitimately claim that.
  • by Idou ( 572394 ) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @06:41PM (#41699571) Journal
    For my mom . . . who is in her 70s. Windows should not even be considered for such a demographic.
  • by obarthelemy ( 160321 ) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @06:49PM (#41699625)

    Both run on the same basic hardware. Android has more apps, local apps, a better image, and good touch control. Chrome has better multitasking, keyboard/pointer handling, and more cloudy stuff.

    Is there any reason why the two can't just merge ? I want my android tablet to handle a keyboard and mouse/trackpad better (right-click, CUA-type shortcuts...), and to have 2 tiled windows on-screen (a la Win8 RT) + pip-type video, as well as to allow me to "pin" apps I want always on, and a "guest" mode. Chrome seems to have all that, but is far too cloudy for me, I need local apps and data, at least until international data roaming is priced cheaply, and 4G speed are available everywhere including in hi-speed trains.. which should take 10+ years.

    • Google has long said their vision is for Android and ChromeOS to converge, from both sides, in the long term. Android getting Chrome as the default browser is a step in that direction.

      Chrome seems to have all that, but is far too cloudy for me, I need local apps and data

      Chrome -- the browser, whether in ChromeOS or elsewhere -- already supports local apps and data.

    • There is, in fact, no reason why they shouldn't merge. ChromeOS is a solution looking for a problem. The problem has already been solved by Android. If Android's browser were worth one tenth of one crap then ChromeOS wouldn't even exist. Why they've spent the effort there instead of improving Android's browser or porting full-fledged chrome to Android is well beyond me.

  • I really don't see the problem this solves.

    Not a high enough portion of my computer usage goes through Google for monitoring/monetizing?

    There are not enough limited use gadgets in peoples homes?

    My portable machines have too much independent capability when offline?

    I am surprised Google is still pushing chromebooks. This is the first I heard of them in ages.

    • The problem it solves is Google losing clicks on ads as the shift in device usage has really made it harder and harder for them to maintain growth (just look at todays Q1 financials for them). They need something that they can use to control the end users screen, cloud based computing vendor lock-in is their approach. looks more like pissing in the wind to me. To crappy to compete with Apple or MS and if you wanted cheap and functional you can build something better with Android or *nix that's far more func
  • by Zobeid ( 314469 ) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @08:00PM (#41700313)

    This looks a lot like what companies were promising a few years ago: an inexpensive netbook with an ARM processor and Linux (or "Smartbook" as Samsung labeled them). It seemed like everybody was jumping on the bandwagon, and then before they even reached the market everybody jumped off the bandwagon and cancelled them, with weak excuses like "there's no demand" and "nobody will accept a netbook without Windows". And now the tide has turned once more, and suddenly it's a good idea again??

    I've been waiting a long time with money in hand. Maybe I'll finally get to spend it. I'll wait until I see a real OS (i.e. desktop Linux distro) running on it, though. Shouldn't be that hard, right?

    WHY OH WHY is this not being sold with a full OS that can run non-web-based apps? I mean, surely it wouldn't cost any more money to put Debian (or Ubuntu, or Mint, or whatever) on this thing and let us run both browser stuff *and* regular Linux apps, right? What's the rationale for limiting it?

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      WHY OH WHY is this not being sold with a full OS that can run non-web-based apps? I mean, surely it wouldn't cost any more money to put Debian (or Ubuntu, or Mint, or whatever) on this thing and let us run both browser stuff *and* regular Linux apps, right? What's the rationale for limiting it?

      1) The whole reason for Chromebook is to push the Google bramd and Google products, it's what makes this have a business case.
      2) Linux is perceived as a very technical OS for nerds, which is clearly not the market they're going for but to be a "webapp computer"

      I mean there are already Linux distributions if you want to run Linux apps and Chrome and I don't think Google want their Chromebook to be compared to those. With google docs for office needs, gmail for email and facebook etc. for social media, online

    • by grantek ( 979387 )

      Would you trust a vendor preinstall of a desktop linux distro? Standard practice for Windows power users is to put down a clean install of the OS over whatever the vendor preinstalled, for power users I'd be happy with doing this for GNU/Linux distros even when the system comes with some flavour of Linux-based OS.

      ChromeOS provides a set-and-forget OS that avoids the Microsoft tax and works for the non-power-user. As long as there's a supported method of reinstalling an unsigned OS (previous iterations of Ch

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Chromebooks are not "limited" to running Chrome OS. It takes only a few seconds to switch to "developer mode", and only a few minutes (mostly artificially imposed, for security concerns) for it to be ready to install any Linux OS you like.

      One goal of Chrome OS is simplicity. Supporting both traditional apps and web apps is a lot of work, and adds confusion and complexity for the users. Since we don't really want to get rid of the web apps, the best path to a simpler (and more secure) system is to get rid

    • by coder111 ( 912060 ) <{moc.liamrr} {ta} {redoc}> on Friday October 19, 2012 @03:24AM (#41702517)
      I read rumors on the net that on the year when a lot of manufacturers announced ARM netbooks, Microsoft went and threatened them with cutting Windows licensing (or something) if they start selling those. So none of these devices actually went to market. People even saw things like Microsoft reps visiting manufacturer's booths in an expo, and ARM netbooks disappearing from the stands soon after.

      http://blogs.computerworld.com/microsoft_strikes_back_at_linux_netbook_push [computerworld.com]
      You can probably find more.

    • At least the x86 Chromebooks have a developer switch, which lets you install whatever you want on it - so it really shouldn't be too hard.

      This might very well be what I've been waiting for too (well, not this one in particular, but ARM Chromebooks generally). My wish list:
      * decent screen (>= 1600x900, preferably IPS)
      * at least 64GB flash (or user-upgradeable, either mSATA or just plain old 2.5")
      * at least 2GB RAM (4GB and user-upgradeable would be better, but we'll probably have to wait another year or s

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 18, 2012 @08:07PM (#41700389)

    what non-IT office workers normally do on their notebooks? Web, outlook, and office suite. Google covers all hardware, software, and IT infra, with much less cost, compared to typical Windows environment. Moreover, this thing is easily replacable, because nothing is in there except the OS. Yours is broken? No problem. Go get a new one from a help desk. You're fired? yours will be used by your replacement the next day.
    for me, i think this is the begining of the end of MS's era in their lucrative business market.

  • This battle brought to you by Webvan and Pets.com.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @10:23PM (#41701253) Journal

    Use it as a drop-and-forget device to give to those members of your family/friend circle who can't be trusted/don't need a full window install.

    I know it is hard to believe but for some people, all they need is something that runs a browser and then a browser on a OS that isn't vulnerable to all the malware and other crap known to invest the Windows.

    As for it being always on and peoples complaints the carriers are cutting data plans... there are lots of people who have no need for a laptop everywhere, a laptop is used NOT to carry around but for easy folding away when it isn't used so it doesn't clash with the rest of the room. Small, safe device that can be taken out and put on the kitchen counter for catching up with email, see pictures of the grandkids on facebook, play an online browser game or two and then stores away again. All for a price that won't break the bank and won't require constant support from ungrateful grandkids.

    Not every new device is intended for consumption by nerds.

    • by Luthair ( 847766 )

      I agree, I think this sounds like the first Chromebook device that fulfills the promise of an inexpensive device. While I haven't used one, my suspicion is that we aren't quite there yet with the offline applications for people traveling, but probably most of what my relatives would use one for is to keep in contact which requires the net anyway.

      I think the big question mark would be Skype.

  • The next time your are fixing some relative's or co-worker's machine .. think about if maybe everyone would be better off if they had a chromebook. The point of these things is that, if you just limit things to the web, you can make a very secure, reliable, no-brainer type machine. It can't do everything, but jeez, it sure can do a lot of what most regular people use their computers for, and that's just going to become more with HTML5 et al. Or a business could hand them out for employees who need some we
  • It hasn't captured any interest and it actively conflicts with Android in the tablet space. The best bits should be moved into Android and the rest should be done away with.

Disraeli was pretty close: actually, there are Lies, Damn lies, Statistics, Benchmarks, and Delivery dates.