Everyone’s busy trying to figure out which tablet they’ll buy this holiday season, but there are other options. At least Google sees it that way, as it commences a fresh Google Chromebook push with an updated interface and some more attractive prices.
For those unfamiliar with the Chromebook, it’s essentially a low-powered laptop running Google’s Chrome OS. Chrome Operating System is a lot like the Chrome browser, but without access to the Microsoft Windows Desktop underneath. That’s because there is no Windows underneath. Chrome OS is all Google and it has been slowly growing and changing to become a more full-featured platform that can compete with the likes of Windows laptops and the ultra-popular and user-friendly iOS-based Apple iPad.
Just last May, Google introduced a file system and laptops with working SD card slots. This is progress for a platform that on its initial launch was entirely limited to working with the cloud. Chrome OS and Chromebooks still rely heavily on the cloud, but now you can side-load files and even download them to an easily accessible file area on the system.
Unlike Windows systems, but somewhat like Apple’s iPad and the new Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet, Chromebooks have virtually no setup beyond signing into your Gmail account. Once that’s done, whatever you have access to on your Windows desktop-based Gmail account (and any other Chromebook you sign into) is on your Chromebook. The latest Chrome OS update doesn’t change any of that. Instead, it just simplifies log-in and the log-in screen a bit more (the biggest change might be the color: the background is now light gray instead of dark blue).
Chrome OS relies on tabs to manage multiple windows for web pages, as well as your cloud-based apps and files. The latest OS update brings some order to the new tab page and, more importantly, adds shortcuts to the file manager, music apps and games.
A typical Chromebook is not a particularly powerful computer. Most offer an Intel Atom processor, 16 GB of SSD storage and just 2 GB of RAM. Yet, some cost as much as $429. Now the entry-level model, which pretty much matches those specs, but drops 3G support (Wi-Fi is an obvious must on all cloud-craving Chromebooks), is $299. This still makes the baseline Chromebook $100 more expensive than the Amazon Kindle Fire ($199) and $50 than the Barnes & Noble Nook ($249). A baseline iPad still runs $499.
Are these changes and the price adjustment enough for you to consider buying a Chromebook this holiday season? Perhaps you’ve tried one out on Virgin America Airways and fell in love, but are you ready to bring one home? Share in the comments below.
Google Updates Chromebook OS and Lowers Prices
Mon, 21 Nov 2011 21:31:07 GMT