Google’s Chrome operating system has been updated and the company has released two new hardware options from Samsung that run the web-based OS, but is it worth the effort?
Samsung’s Chromebook Series 5 550 looks the same as the Chromebook Series 5 from last year. However, the 550 has a few important upgrades that Google insists make it a much better value. The netbook retains its 12.1-inch display and 3.3-pound weight, but doubles its RAM from 2GB to 4GB. The 550 also gets a processor upgrade to Intel Celeron dual-core processor, instead of last year’s Intel Atom processor.
Speed is integral to the Chrome experience. The new Chromebook and Chromebox – a small PC that resembles Apple’s Mac mini but requires you to add a monitor, mouse, and keyboard on your own – are built on Intel Core processors, which are 2.5 times as fast as the first-generation Chromebooks, with a boot-time of 7 seconds instead of 10, reports PC World’s Melanie Pinola.
However, a shorter battery life rating of 6 hours versus the previous generation’s 8.5 hours, is being reported and the pricing is a bit higher too: $449 for the Wi-Fi version (versus $430 last year) or $549 if you want built-in 3G ($499 last year).
A new user interface allows quick and easy app launching. You can pin commonly-used apps for quick access, display multiple windows side-by-side or experience your favorite apps in full-screen mode without any distractions, Google writes on its Chrome blog.
A Chrome OS is based on the notion of an always-internet-connected operating system. Consumers have so far not felt this was a feature worth clamoring for as it will only “work” when it’s connected to the web, writes Sean Ludwig for Venture Beat.
Chrome’s OS was designed to be used in conjunction with Google Drive making it easy to create, store and share with just one click. Drive will be seamlessly integrated with the File Manager and support offline access with the next release of Chrome OS in six weeks.
With Google Docs offline support (rolling out over the next few weeks), you can keep working on your documents even when offline and seamlessly sync back up when you re-connect. In addition, there are hundreds of offline-capable web apps in the Chrome Web Store.
Many apps work best installed locally on a machine rather than operating through a browser. As such, Chromebook and Chrome OS adoption has not been widespread.
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.