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Google and Intel team up to give Chromebooks more power

Google and Intel team up to give Chromebooks more power

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Intel's Navin Shenoy

Lenovo isn't the only company with Chromebook news today. Intel and a slew of hardware manufacturers announced a lineup of new Chrome devices today at an event in San Francisco — including devices that will feature more powerful hardware than we've seen thus far in most mainstream Chromebooks.

Later this summer, both Dell and Acer will be launching Chromebooks that run on Intel's Core i3 processor — Dell will bring out a new version of its Chromebook 11 including the i3 "later this year," and Acer's C720 will be available "early in the back-to-school season" for $349.99. Unfortunately, there's no word on how much the Dell will cost, but as it was probably the best all-around Chromebook we've seen, we'll be looking forward to seeing if the new processor measurably improves the experience. There's little doubt that the i3 will offer a faster experience, but battery life will, as always, be a key concern.

Beyond the Core i3 devices, Google also announced a number of new Chromebooks based on Intel's Bay Trail-M chipset. While there's no doubt that these computers won't be nearly as fast as the i3 models, Intel is touting up to 11 hours of battery life. There's also no fan, something that should make for a much-improved experience — as much as we enjoyed Dell's Chromebook 11, the constant presence of fans turning on and off were a big distraction.

A slew of new devices, but no release dates to be found

Asus and Acer both announced Chromebooks running on these processors — Asus is launching an 11.6-inch C200 and an 13.3-inch C300, while Acer will offer a single model — these fit alongside the models Lenovo announced earlier today. Unfortunately, there's no launch date or price for the Asus or Acer devices, so we'll need to wait a bit before we get to see much of what Intel is showing off today.

Speed or battery — pick one

Probably the biggest thing missing from Intel's announcements today were any Chromebooks that have a larger or higher-quality screen — most Chromebooks remain stuck with 11-inch screens and relatively low resolutions. Samsung's new Chromebook may run the less powerful Exynos processor, but it also features a 13-inch, 1080p screen — it seems that Chrome consumers will still need to choose between power and a quality screen for the time being. As always, Intel, Google, and its OEM partners said they'll continue to innovate on the hardware front, even though these Chromebooks are pretty similar design-wise to earlier models. "As users do more with Chrome, they'll expect more from the hardware that surrounds it," said Google VP Caesar Sengupta.

While the event was almost entirely focused on hardware, there were a few small tidbits about Chrome. Full Google Now functionality is coming to Chrome — it's been implemented in notifications across Windows and OS X as well as in Chrome, but Google says it'll have easier voice activation features soon. There's also an update to Google Play — a full Google Play Movies and TV app will be available for Chrome soon and will support offline viewing, so you can finally watch movies while flying across the country.