Google is making the case for the Chromebook to become everybody's second computer with a new model retailing for only $249. Available Monday, the new Samsung Chromebook is based an ARM chip (rather than Intel) which could help to explain the lower cost... only this particular ARM chip may perform better than most any we've seen before. It's a Exynos 5 Dual processor, which makes it the very first device to use ARM's new Cortex-A15 architecture. As far as the laptop goes, it connects to the internet solely via Wi-Fi, has an 11.6-inch screen, 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM, and Bluetooth — and it has an SD card slot to expand storage further. It weighs 2.5 pounds and is 0.8 inches thick with two USB ports and an HDMI-out port. All of the internal specs are designed to keep the price down while keeping the speed up — Google is touting that it's able to run 1080p video at 30fps and SVP Sundar Pichai today showed the product running a YouTube clip at that resolution.
Because it's based on an ARM processor, it doesn't have a fan — or any other moving parts — and Google says that it will run for 6.5 hours on its battery. We're grabbing some hands-on time now, but it certainly looks every bit of its $249 price — which is to say it has decent but not inspiring build quality. The design is not unlike a plastic, 11-inch MacBook Air. The keyboard layout is nearly identical, with low-profile black keys. Despite the considerably lower price, however, the keys feel great and are surprisingly responsive. The display, on the other hand, is less inspiring. While offering a decent 11.6-inches with 1366 x 768 resolution, it offers little in the way of brightness and color representation. Hues are subdued and text can be difficult to read with conflicting light sources. With that dual-core Cortex-A15 chip under the hood, the new Chromebook loads and runs HD video quickly, and delivering the 30fps as promised. If Google's presentation was any indication, however, performance diminishes rapidly when pushed to a projector or external display.
While the Chrome OS remains largely unchanged, Google is offering 100GB of Google Drive storage to new Chromebook adopters, as rumored earlier this year. Those who pick up the new Chromebook, Samsung Series 3 Chromebook, or the original Samsung Chromebook will be able to redeem the additional storage for two years.
We'll be conducting more extensive testing of the new Chromebook soon, but those eager to see one for themselves can pre-order today or check it out when it hits retailer shelves on Monday.
Scott Lowe contributed to this report.