About a year ago I wrote about the Chromebook laptop computers that run Google's cloud-based Chrome operating system instead of Windows or Macintosh or Linux. These low-priced laptop computers have tiny hard drives as they store most all data and applications in the cloud. As long as the user has an Internet connection, these computers can perform nearly all the same functions as their more expensive cousins.
Chromebook computers never get viruses and are very, very simple to use, even for computer novices. In fact, they have been called "laptops for the AARP generation" because of their simplicity of use. They are great for use by anyone who is nearly computer illiterate. Chromebook computers are popular with senior citizens, grammar school children, and anyone else who has never learned the intricacies of computers.
Chromebooks include (free) word processors, spreadsheet programs, email, web browsers, Skype, and much, much more. The purchase price of the hardware ($350 to $500) is the total price as almost all the available software is free of charge. Obviously, there is no need to purchase any anti-virus software since these computers do not get viruses. Another interesting twist is that Chromebook laptops do not require as much power from the batteries, so battery life is much longer than in similar Windows or Macintosh laptops.
You can find my previous articles about Chromebook laptop computers if you start at http://goo.gl/8CD5f.
I own a Samsung Chromebook and love it. I use it often in my travels. It has both wi-fi and 3G wireless network connectivity, so it works from most anyplace in the United States.
I have been surprised at the lack of sales of these inexpensive computers. When Chromebook laptops were introduced, the marketplace yawned. I don't know how many Chromebooks have been sold, but the number obviously must be small. Successful in the marketplace or not, Samsung apparently still believes in the concept and has now introduced a new desktop computer running an updated version of the same operating system. The new Samsung device has been dubbed the "Chromebox."
At the same time, Samsung has also announced a new, updated version of its Chromebook laptop.
Both the new Chromebox desktop and the updated Chromebook laptop computers are similar to the earlier laptop version, except that they now contain a more powerful processor and double the amount of memory of the earlier systems. The Chromebox has a number of ports, including six USB 2.0 ports and two DisplayPort++ slots that are compatible with HDMI, DVI, and VGA. This allows the user to plug in two or more monitors. The Chrome operating system is optimized for screens up to 30 inches.
Both the laptop and desktop have a Gigabit Ethernet port for Internet connectivity, as well as wi-fi and (optional) 3G wireless capabilities. The Chrome OS is also being integrated with Google Drive, the new cloud storage service with 5 gigabytes of free storage space.
Both computers remain virus-resistant, and both boot up in about seven seconds. Both are also surprisingly fast in normal operation although accessing data and applications stored in the cloud depends upon the speed of the Internet connection being used. Both computers are also silent; there is no fan noise or any other source of background noise.
Chromebook and Chromebox computers use Google Docs for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation programs. An interesting side note in today's announcement says that Google is about to introduce offline editing of Docs. You will be able to use and even update Google Docs documents even when an Internet connection is not available. Once a connection is established at a later time, the Chromebook and Chromebox computers will synchronize with the Google Docs online application.
The Chromebook and Chromebox computers are not very good at running advanced computer games simply because there are very few advanced computer games available in the cloud. Then again, the intended audiences of these low-priced systems aren't likely to be the people looking for high-end computer games.
Both the Chromebook and Chromebox computers are capable of using cloud-based genealogy services, including The Next Generation, PhpGedView, FamilySearch, WeRelate, and others.
You can read more in an article by Jon Brodkin and published in ARS Technica at http://goo.gl/DcpGm and in another article in ChromeStory.com at http://www.chromestory.com/2012/05/samsung-chromebox-reviewed/.
I doubt if Samsung will sell many of the new "Chromebox" desktop computers. Like the laptop version, these are basic computers with very little "pizzazz." While they are technical marvels, nobody seems to get very excited about the mediocre capabilities of any low-priced computers. In short, there aren't many "bragging rights" to owning a Chromebook or Chromebox.
Speaking of prices, these aren't all that low-priced. The Chromebook laptops sell for $350 to $500 while the Chromebox desktop computers will sell for about the same price although without the monitor. You can find low-priced Windows computers selling for similar prices, especially if you watch for sales on older, close-out models.
As is typical with most desktop computers, the monitor for a Chromebox computer will cost extra. The Chromebox computers can be used with any standard VGA, HDMI, or DVI monitor that works on Windows or Macintosh computers. Up to 30-inch displays are supported.
The new Chromebook and Chromebox computers will soon be available at BestBuy stores as well as from a number of online retailers.
Whether popular in the marketplace or not, Samsung is obviously committed to the concept of cloud computing and easy-to-use computers. It is possible that these Chrome operating system computers will increase in market share as the word spreads about their advantages. Of course, being "possible" does not mean that it will actually happen. It should be interesting to watch the growth of these great computers, if any.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it with others. Tweet it, share it on Google+, Facebook or on your preferred social network.
Republishing of this article in newsletters, blogs, and elsewhere is allowed and encouraged, with a few minor restrictions. Details may be found at http://goo.gl/hoHH1.
Of course, if you haven’t done so already, you should join my email newsletter mailing list to stay current on my latest articles and announcements. You can also cancel at any time within seconds. I promise to never, ever send you any unrequested e-mail, other than newsletter updates.