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Google offers new 11.6-in. Samsung Chromebook for $249

Some analysts say it is really a netbook and won’t sell well

October 18, 2012 01:03 PM ET

New chromebook

Google’s new Samsung Chromebook sells for $249.
Computerworld –Google today announced a new low-priced clamshell-style Samsung Chromebook computer for $249 that runs the Chrome OS.
With an 11.6-in. display, a full-sized Chrome keyboard, overall weight of 2.5 pounds and a Samsung Exynos 5 dual-core processor, some analysts immediately called it a netbook instead of a full laptop.
That netbook moniker has negative connotions that could hurt sales, analysts said. Netbooks are seen as basically focused on browsing the Internet and accessing applications and data in the cloud instead of accessing on-board apps that are used offline. The new Samsung Chromebook will ship Wi-Fi-only.
“I don’t see any benefit of getting a Chromebook,” said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. The new device “is basically a netbook with a Web-based OS on it. Why not just buy an Android device and actually be able to use plenty of apps?”
Gold said that a cost-conscious buyer might find $249 attractive for the new Chromebook, especially if it runs some Google apps. “But for another $100 or so, you can get a full laptop running Windows. That’s a much better deal,” Gold added.
Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said Google might not call the new device a netbook, a category that hasn’t done well in the last year. “The light computing experience of the device in a clamshell form factor says netbook, whatever you call it,” she said.
Gartner has projected “small volumes for Chrome in the consumer market,” Milanesi added. Eventually, Android and Chrome should merge, she said.
“Consumers do not want to choose between apps and Internet; they want both,” she added. “The $249 is certainly an interesting price point, but consumers have been burned with netbooks and will be cautious and look beyond the price tag.”
Other device makers have backed off netbooks, sometimes in favor of tablets or ultrabooks, including Lenovo in February and Dell last year.
Intel said earlier this year that it would supply netbook processors as long as the processors continued selling in significant volumes.
There are some avid supporters of Chrome and Chromebooks, including JR Raphael, a Computerworld blogger. who has seen the latest device and plans a full review.
Raphael has evaluated earlier Chromebook models, including the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook and Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook.
Even though Raphael said the Chromebook is close to a traditional netbook, it is a fairly unique concept that has been underestimated and that “people seem to either love or hate.” Chromebooks have been compared to thin clients and have been used in schools and businesses and in areas such as call centers because those organizations don’t have to pay for software updates or complex set-up.
“For people who already live in the cloud and mainly rely on Web-based services like Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, [the Chrome OS] eliminates much of the hassle of traditional computing,” Raphael said. “No annoying drivers, no ridiculous OS updates, no crashes and conflicts and viruses.”
Google said the 11.6-in. display will have a 1366 x 768 resolution. There will be 16GB of internal storage and 2GB of RAM, with a six-hour-plus battery.
 covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at Twitter @matthamblen or subscribe to Hamblen RSSMatt’s RSS feed. His email address ismhamblen@computerworld.com.
Read more about Netbooks in Computerworld’s Netbooks Topic Center.
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  • Ramon S
    If a Raspberry Pi computer costs 35$ and can run a real OS and real apps then it should be possible to attach a 100$ screen to that and add some other goodies for the remaining 100$ (faster processor, battery, keyboard, WiFi, more RAM, a hard drive, maybe better graphics – although the Raspberry Pi already does HD graphics). That will cost the same as a castrated Chromebook and do way more. And maybe the screens cost even less offering more wiggle room for the other components and profit. In the end it will be way more functional compared to a Windows RT Surface at half the price.
    Such a Chromebook would get my interest if it is under hundred bucks and no additional fees to use services.
  • nightscout13
    This will be a Christmas present to meeself. 
  • pinkeee
    An extra hundred dollars or so? Are you aware of the economic situation in our nation? An extra hundred dollars or so!? Bingo!
  • HowsTheHope, Middle aged, overweight and underfunded.
    Anyone who would consider a Chromebook a ‘netbook’ is NOT an analyst.
    If someone describes this as a netbook, stop listening because they have no clue what this is.
  • Edgar Lafsatfanbois
    Instead of the personal attack, why not explain the differences?
  • H C
    most anything possible with a PC can be accomplished on a Chromebook.
    you name it, there’s an online alternative or solution.any analyst who says it’s a mere “netbook” hasn’t done their research or spent enough time with one.this device trumps the following:Tablets-by having a proper keyboard, all the right inputs, no issuesMacbook Air-PRICE, battery lifeNetbooks-price, battery life, ease of use, zero problems/viruses
  • Ramon S
    Really? Show me how I can store hours of HD video locally on a Chromebook and do NLE. How about playing the popular games? How about installing an alternative OS? I’m really interested how to do that and much more on a Chromebook.
  • Does it have a microSD slot.  If not, forget it.
  • H C
    any micro SD card you buy generally comes with a full size SD transfer “sleeve”..
  • Bruce_Bensetler
    Actually netbooks are great devices. I use a desktop in the office, but no longer carry my full sized laptop when I travel. Of course, I avoid the bloatware that is typical with Microsoft applications and mostly run our custom software which is tightly coded with better db technology than anything that ships from Redmond. Citrix lets me get at databases and apps that I use at our corporate site. I have three tablets for personal use, but like the form factor of the netbook. When not using, I put it in “sleep” and find the battery will easily last all day. It is then, effectively, instant on. The problem with the netbooks is not the hardware but the poorly written software that we accept without question. 
  • CGT21
    These are great devices with secure browsing and very fast. The Citrix receiver makes for easy and safe remote access to corporate applications and virtual desktop. Same sort of thing you can do with thin clients from HP and Wyse except even lower overhead. This really helps to lower the TCO. If you need a windows machine, get a windows machine, but Chromebooks and Chromeboxes have a place in the environment and I have 200+ of them deployed already for these niche uses.
  • if as quoted “I don’t see any benefit of getting a Chromebook,” said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. The new device “is basically a netbook with a Web-based OS on it. Why not just buy an Android device and actually be able to use plenty of apps?”  Can I suggest the Transphone & Transpad a Smartphone Connected Computing device
  • SPM
    It gives you the full web experience, and it comes with a keyboard.
  • jqpabc123
    Some love it, some hate it … most just ignore it.
  • Edgar Lafsatfanbois
    OS updates are ridiculous now?  I suppose it could be useful if it has an SSH and RDP client.  
  • Victor Escobedo Jr
    It does have an SSH client:https://chrome.google.com/webs…
    And there is also a Citrix Receiver and Chrome Remote Desktop for when you need to access Windows applications.
  • photohounds
    I think Mr. Raphael implied that having to muck around and do many updates yourself manually is a pain?  Updates happen, but are ahem, “transparent” to the user.
     
    I dunno if this type of thing is for me…
    However, not everyone needs the “full boogie” (look at tablets many are happy with them). People with lighter computing needs that want no visible maintenance overhead may be well satisfied. 
    Great for field operatives with defined tasks?  Google’s estimate of light sales are probably accurate and that this style of computer isn’t intended to sweep all before it, just to offer an alternative.
  • H C
    as a “power user” with 15+ years PC/Mac repair experience, i’ve gotta say that Chromebooks are fantastic whether you’re a casual or professional user.
    i’ve had one since Nov2011 and only very rarely do i need a PC for anything. generally only for very specific utilities (game console modding) or old habits (Winamp).
    otherwise, it’s 95% of my computing and PCs are almost always nearby if need be.
  • PeanutGallery6
    I have a tablet, kindle, chromebook, laptop, desktop, etc.  I often use my chromebook for conferences.  I can do some work and if I lose it.  No big deal.  There is no data on it.  The battery life is tons better than any laptop.
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