Samsung and Google have unveiled the next generation Chromebook. The 11.6-inch Chromebook weighs less than two and a half pounds and is priced at a ground-breaking $249.
I purchased the previous generation Google Chromebook made by Samsung and have been quite happy with it. You can see my previous articles about my Chromebook experiences if you start at http://goo.gl/degQ2. I used the 3¼-pound Chromebook frequently until I purchased the two-and-a-half-pound MacBook Air which is a much more powerful computer although with a much higher price tag. I haven't used the Chromebook much since then.
The Chromebooks do not run either the Windows or Macintosh operating system. Instead, Chromebooks run Google's Chrome operating system which is based on the Linux kernel but is so highly modified that even Linux aficionados wouldn't recognize it. The Chrome operating system is cloud-based. That is, all data is stored online, not in the laptop's built-in hard drive. Almost all needed applications are built-in and available free of charge. Want a word processor? Use Google Docs. Want an email program? Use Gmail. Want video? Use YouTube.
Google and Samsung advertise that there are thousands of free apps available today. However, it might not run your favorite genealogy program. Instead, it is limited to online genealogy programs, such as New FamilySearch, WeRelate.org, The Next Generation, PhpGedView, Ancestry.com, Geni.com, WikiTree.com, MyHeritage.com, FamilyTreeExplorer, and a few others.
The Chromebook has many advantages, including:
- It boots up in 7 or 8 seconds, not minutes as with some other operating systems
- It is super simple to use, making it suitable for non-computer experts, including senior citizens, children, and adults not familiar with the inner workings of computers
- It never gets viruses and does not need anti-virus software
- Everything is automatically backed up all the time (by Google or the other online companies) with no requirement for the user to make backups
On the downside, the Chromebook does require a wi-fi connection to the Internet in order to use full functionality. That isn't much of a problem these days. I have even used the Chromebook when flying on an airliner at 35,000 feet.
I purchased the Chromebook a bit more than a year ago and thought perhaps this hassle-free computer would become a very popular offering. However, I was wrong. I believe that very few Chromebooks were ever sold, even though I do like mine. In fact, at $350 to $500, the Chromebooks of last year were just as expensive as some of the lower-cost Windows laptop computers and weighed almost as much. Why buy a low-powered computer when you can obtain a higher-powered model with more software available for the same price? Google and Samsung have now addressed those issues and are trying again with the new, lower-priced version.
The new Chromebook looks like the smaller MacBook Air, with a silver plastic casing that reportedly feels sturdy. The size is more portable than that of most laptop computers at a price far lower than any existing computer. It will sell for a list price of $249 US dollars in the U.S. It will also be available in the U.K. for ￡229 GBP. Individual retailers might offer discounts from those prices.
The new Chromebook contains an 11.6-inch screen, a 6.6-hour battery, high-speed wi-fi, a USB 3.0 port and another USB 2.0 port, a combo headphone/microphone jack, secure digital memory slot, an HDMI Port (connect it to your television set to display video), Bluetooth, built-in speakers, and a full-size keyboard. The new Chromebook reportedly also works well with YouTube video and other programs that require high-speed video displays. Not bad for $249!
Each Chromebook also includes a Google account with 100 gigabytes of storage space at no additional charge.
Will this new Chromebook revolutionize the marketplace? I doubt it. Most present computer users are already satisfied with their Windows or Macintosh systems and have no desire to switch. Those buying their first computers seem to purchase iPads or Android tablets, not laptops. I don't see much demand for another laptop operating system.
However, if I were purchasing a computer for a non-computer-literate senior citizen or for a non-computer-literate ten-year-old, I'd probably buy the new Chromebook for $249. If I didn't already own a lightweight high-powered MacBook Air, I would also be tempted to purchase a Chromebook for myself for use as a "traveling computer" when on business trips or on vacations. It is an excellent system for anyone who needs the Chromebook's unique characteristics.
You can read more about the new $249 Chromebook at http://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/devices/landing.html. It is not yet available as I write these words but is supposed to be released within the next few days. The Chromebook will be available from Amazon.com, BestBuy, TigerDirect.com and NewEgg.com. U.K. residents can purchase a Chromebook at PC World.
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