Samsung on Tuesday released the first Chrome desktop computer that essentially shifts work into Internet “cloud” using a version of the Google Web browser as its operating system.
Staunch Google partner Samsung unveiled Series 3 Chromebox along with a beefed-up Series 5 Chromebook that is the latest in a line of Chrome-powered laptops introduced last year by Google.
“This is the next step in our journey toward an always-new computing experience focused on speed, simplicity and security,” said Google director of product management Caesar Sengupta.
The Series 5 Chromebook with its 12.1-inch (31 centimeter) screen weighs 3.3 pounds (1.48 kilograms) and measures less than an inch (2.5 centimeters) thick.
The Chromebox measures just 7.6 x 7.6 x 1.3-inches (19 x 19 x 3.3 centimeters).
Buyers will need to provide their own monitors, keyboards, and mouse devices.
The new Chromebook and the Chromebox feature dual-core Intel processors, 16-gigabyte solid state drives, and built-in wireless internet connectivity.
“The new Samsung Series 5 Chromebook and Series 3 Chromebox provide the rapid, convenient and ever-improving computing experience that was so well-received in our first Chromebook,” said Samsung marketing vice president Todd Bouman.
The Chromebox was priced at $330 and available at US and British online shops including Amazon.com, NewEgg.com, and BestBuy.com. It was to roll out in additional countries in coming weeks.
The Series 5 Chromebook Wi-Fi model was priced at $450 and a version with 3G telecom data service capabilities was priced at $550.
Google built its Chrome operating into notebook computers in a challenge to software at the heart of Microsoft’s empire.
The computing model shifts operating software into the Internet letting data centers store data and tend to tough tasks.
Shifting operating software to banks of servers on the Internet means that Google tends to matters such as updating programs and fending off hackers and malicious software.
Advantages include quick start-ups from disk-drive free machines, long battery life, and essentially being able to dive into one’s desktop data from anywhere on the Internet.
“With a new, app-centric user interface rolling out today and thousands of available web apps, we couldn’t be more excited about this evolution,” Sengupta said.
“This next-generation hardware from Samsung based on Intel processors and hardware-accelerated software delivers nearly three times the performance of the first-generation Chromebooks.”
IDG News Service - Samsung will launch this week two new Chrome OS-based computers, a laptop and desktop that have been designed to be significantly faster and more versatile than previous models.
Along with the new Samsung machines, Google is announcing enhancements to Chrome OS and Google Apps, including tight integration with Google Drive and the ability to edit Google Docs documents offline.
Chrome OS-based machines began shipping commercially about a year ago from Samsung and Acer. Although the machines haven’t exactly taken the PC market by storm, Google is satisfied with the progress so far.
“We’re very happy with where we are. We strongly believe in the vision we articulated last year,” said Caesar Sengupta, product management director, Chrome OS.
Referred to generically as “Chromebooks,” these machines and the Chrome OS were designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet and for online applications.
According to Sengupta, Google and its partners haven’t pushed Chromebooks aggressively, so they have been bought primarily by early adopters, whose feedback has been closely listened to.
“We’re at a point where from the user experience point of view we’re starting to be happy with it and we’re now ready to take next step in this journey,” he said.
That next step includes broadening the roster of hardware partners, as well as making the machines more widely available. The new Samsung models will be available online today in the U.S. and May 30 in the U.K., and they will be for sale also at select Best Buy stores in the U.S. in June.
At the software level, the new machines will feature what Google calls an “apps-centric user interface” that will feature, for example, a simplified app launcher, the ability to have multiple windows open for multitasking and support for screen sizes ranging from 11 inches to 30 inches.
Coming later will be a tight integration with the Google Drive cloud storage service, as well as the ability to edit Google Docs documents when the machine is offline. When available, this Google Docs offline editing feature will be available to all Google Docs users, not just people who buy these new Samsung machines.
Other new features include a new, more sophisticated media player, as well as a native photo editor and uploader, and enhanced video streaming options for YouTube, Netflix and other such sites.
Samsung’s Chromebook Series 5 550 laptop has a 12.1-inch display (1280×800), weighs 3.3 pounds and its battery lasts for six hours of continuous usage or six and a half days in standby mode. It has an Intel Celeron 867 dual-core processor running at a clock speed of 1.3GHz, 4G bytes of RAM and a built-in, dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n antenna and a Gigabit Ethernet port. A 3G modem is optional.
January 27, 2012, 12:41 PM —
The only people I know who own Chromebooks received them for free, from Google. In my case, I have two, both free. But despite the very small-bore hole Chromebooks have made in the laptop market, in the midst of a major project shakedown at Google headquarters, Chromebooks are, apparently, going to be around for a while, and the Chrome OS project has the CEO’s support.
The Register asked a Google product manager about where Chrome OS stands, and, to summarize, the answer is that Google doesn’t need to win in the retail sector yet, or maybe not any time soon, because they’re focused on the education field first, then retail and enterprise sectors next. Schools in 41 states are trying out Chromebooks, and three state education systems are buying 27,000 Chrome OS devices over the next three years, according to Caesar Sengupta, the product manager quoted by The Register.
The sales pitch for Chrome OS is centered around simplicity. It’s simple for the user, because it’s nothing but a browser, something they already know how to use. It’s simple for the administrator at a school or business, because Google is constantly pushing out security and program updates for Chrome, and Chromebooks automatically update every time they restart. And in many models, it’s simple to get online: either you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network, or your Chromebook falls back to a 3G cellular connection, of which you get 100 MB of free bandwidth every month for just-in-case working.
Gaining cachet with a core group of enthusiasts is probably the best strategy Google has for its Chromebooks. Whenever Chromebooks are reviewed or mentioned on most tech-related sites and in publications, they’re noted for costing just about the same as a cheaper Windows laptop, yet without the advantage of running the huge universe of Windows apps.
“But, wait,” you might say, “Can’t Google’s own apps recreate most of the tools we need on a Windows system?” To a large extent, yes, with Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and other services.
“But then again,” you chime in, “what about when you’re offline?” Gmail, Docs, and Calendar have some offline capabilities built in, and there are a growing number of offline apps in the Chrome Web Store.
“But what if I need to edit a photo in Photoshop while I’m on a plane? Or if I need to save a huge video file on my system? Or if I need to keep Dropbox running?”
That’s where the Chromebook discussion ends, at least for the moment. Google is probably right that many, many things can be done entirely online these days, and that their own tools provide some of the best ways to work in the cloud. But the Chromebook looks right now to the average laptop buyer like an all-electric car looks to the average car buyer: full of what-if questions and untested theories of living. If you’re working mostly inside a school or your home, or if your company can foot the bill for mobile data coverage, this is less of a concern. For the person footing their own Chromebook bill, though, it’s a conversation stopper.
Not everybody is down on Chrome OS. One writer at ExtremeTech strongly believes in Google’s “long game”. And this writer, too, enjoys the very long battery life, focus-aiding simplicity, and surprising capability of his Chromebook. But I’ve also hacked my Chromebook to dual-boot with Ubuntu, because, well, I’m geeky that way, and I like to prepare for what-ifs.