Exceptional midrange Chromebooks have always been an elusive thing.
For years, our only Chrome OS options were the low-end, super-affordable systems -- which are good enough to get by but not exactly delightful to use -- or the high-end Chromebook Pixel, which is luxurious as can be but costs an arm and a leg (or $999, to be precise) to own.
We've seen some reasonable in-betweens in recent years, like Toshiba's Chromebook 2 and Acer's Chromebook 15 -- but now, Dell appears to be poised to bring a new level of class into the midrange Chromebook realm.
Meet the Dell Chromebook 13, announced just seconds ago by Dell and Google and going on sale September 17th.
The Chromebook 13 has a carbon-fiber cover and aluminum/magnesium body, along with a glass trackpad and backlit keyboard. The display is a 13.3-in. 1080p IPS panel -- the higher-quality type of screen that you want in a laptop -- with the option for touch support.
Inside, you've got a 5th-gen Intel Core processor -- Celeron, i3, or i5 -- along with anywhere from 2GB to 8GB of RAM. Battery life is quoted at 12 hours per charge.
And here's the really crazy part: The system starts at $399.
The big question, of course, is what exactly "starts at" means -- what that baseline model includes, and how things will go up from there. But even on the low end, this looks like it should be an insanely impressive device -- a Chromebook with the type of quality we typically see only in the Land o' the Thousand-Dollar Pixel.
Suffice it to say, things are about to get interesting. Stay tuned: I'll be getting my hands on the Dell Chromebook 13 and doing a full review closer to its release.