First look: Google's new $249 Chromebook

Going Google is getting cheaper.

Google New Chromebook - Samsung

Google has just announced a new entry-level model of its cloud-based Chromebook computer. The device, dubbed simply the "new Samsung Chromebook" (yes, really), will cost $249. It's avaliable for pre-order this afternoon and will start shipping next week. Amazon, Best Buy, and other retailers will offer the device; it'll also be sold directly from Google's own Google Play Store.

The new Samsung Chromebook, like the Samsung Series 5 550 model introduced earlier this year, runs Google's Chrome OS operating system. Chrome OS is a platform built solely around Web-centric apps and technology; rather than relying on local applications, nearly everything you do on a Chromebook takes place on the Web.

I've used Chrome OS myself for quite some time; I tested the original Cr-48 pilot notebook and ended up buying one of last year's introductory models after reviewing it here. The operating system has come a long way since its introduction. It now includes a fully functional desktop with movable windows and robust offline support. Some people are quick to dismiss the concept -- understandably, given its unusual nature -- but while it's certainly not for everyone, Chrome OS really does offer a lot of advantages over traditional computing for users who live in the cloud.

New Samsung Chromebook

So what's the deal with the new Chromebook? In short, it's a slimmed-down model with less horsepower; on paper, at least, it's closer in some ways to the first-gen Samsung Series 5 Chromebook than the more recent Series 5 550 model. On price, it's even lower: The current Series 5 550 Chromebook currently retails for $449 while the older Series 5 Chromebook is priced at $349 (for the Wi-Fi-only versions).

Here are the official specs of the new $249 device:

• Display Size: 11.6-inches

• Display: 1366 x 768 resolution; 200 nit brightness

• Thickness: 0.8 in.

• Weight: 2.5 lbs.

• Battery life: over 6.5 hours

• Processor: Samsung Exynos 5 Dual

• Memory: 2GB

• Storage: 16GB SSD

• Ports: 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, combo headphone/mic jack, secure digital memory slot

• Keyboard: Full-size Chrome keyboard

Basically, we're talking about a slightly smaller screen -- both the Series 5 and Series 5 550 Chromebooks have 12.1-inch displays with 1280 x 800 resolution -- and a smaller and lighter overall form. It matches the internal storage of the higher-end 550 model but matches the more limited RAM of the lower-end Series 5 device.

The specs make me a bit concerned about the device's performance -- while the newer Series 5 550 Chromebook is snappy and responsive, the older Series 5 model is rather poky and easily bogged down, particularly when you have multiple tabs open -- but we are talking about different processors here, so we'll see how things go. In any case, for $249, it's a very intriguing proposition.

The new Chromebook also comes with 100GB of Google Drive storage for two years. That alone would normally cost you $120.

I'll be spending the afternoon trying out the new Samsung Chromebook for myself. Check back soon for some hands-on impressions.

UPDATE: My full review is now online:

Samsung Chromebook review: Google's new $249 computer

For much more on Chrome OS and its pros and cons, you can also check out my in-depth series:

Chrome OS reviewed: The final verdict on Google's cloud platform

Hottest jobs, cities and industries for IT pay in 2016
View Comments
You Might Like
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies