This week Google and Samsung unveiled a brand new Chromebook laptop. If you’ve forgotten A Chromebook is a laptop that runs Google’s first ever desktop operating system Chrome OS. Google launched Chrome OS and Chromebook’s with the help of Acer and Samsung in 2011. The new Samsung Chromebook (that’s the actual product name that Samsung and Google have gone with, the model number is XE303C12) is being marketed as computer for everyone due to its low $249 base price.
On Google’s product page for the new Chromebook they really lay out well their value proposition for consumers. The new Chromebook is not only cheap to own it’s also “hassle-free” and fast, according to Google. Also things like anti-virus and anti-malware software won’t be necessary for Chrome OS users because all of that security comes built-in with Chrome OS.
Google lists the specifications for the 2012 Samsung Chromebook as follows:
- 11.6-inch (1366×768) display
- 0.8 inches thin – 2.5 lbs / 1.1 kg
- Over 6.5 hours of battery
- Samsung Exynos 5 Dual Processor (model 5250)
- 2GB of RAM
- 16GB internal Solid State Drive
- 100 GB Google Drive Cloud Storage
- Built-in dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
- VGA Webcam
- 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
- HDMI Port
- Bluetooth 3.0™ Compatible
What is Chrome OS?
It’s still alright to not have a full understanding of what Chrome OS is at this point, the operating system is just still way too new. However I’ll try to do my best to describe the operating system and the main idea behind it in the following paragraphs.
The first thing you need to understand is that Chrome OS isn’t like your Windows or Mac computers because it relies mainly on the Internet and web-based applications for every one of its main functions, take away Internet access and a Chrome OS powered computer isn’t as functional as Windows or Mac computers. (See Google’s list of distinguishing features for the new Chromebook here)
Since they launched the Chrome OS project in 2011 Google has made sure their hardware partners offer Wi-Fi and 3G equipped Chromebooks to consumers.
Chrome OS uses the Google Chrome web browser interface to provide you with access to applications, your files which are stored in the cloud using either Google Drive or other cloud storage providers. Every application you can run on a Chromebook is offered as a digital download only through Google’s own Chrome Web Store. Digital downloads are kind of your only option out-of-the-box anyway since no Chromebooks come with optical drives.
A Chromebook is a good example of a cloud computer. You don’t need to be using your own Chromebook to get to your cloud stored files, simply pick-up a Chromebook and log-in to your Chrome account and all your files are available to you on that system thanks to cloud storage and an internet connection.
Is the new Samsung Chromebook the last chance for Chrome OS laptops?
In many ways this new Chromebook from Samsung is the best example of what a Chromebook should be. The new Samsung Chromebook is lightweight weighing only 2.43 pounds, it’s also thinner than previous Samsung Chromebooks, and it’s very affordable too.
However Google has had trouble convincing a large number of consumers to give Chromebooks a chance. Even with advertising both online and offline the market share for Chrome OS has remained under 1% in the first year. If the $249 Samsung Chromebook doesn’t offer the Chrome OS with enough of a bump I could see Google either radically adjusting the way Chrome OS works or slowing back away from the project and eventually shut it down in a few years.
I just can’t really picture Google being too quick to cut and run from the desktop operating system market considering how big that particular market could be for their earnings in the future if Chrome OS were to ever catch on. However I do believe it will take cloud computing becoming a household thing before Google will be able to make any serious movement against rivals Windows or Mac.