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Google Chrome OS updated, new Chromebooks and Chromebox

by Mark Tyson on 30 May 2012, 10:41

Tags: Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Samsung (005935.KS), Chrome OS

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabhfj

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Google Chrome OS has been with us for a year and it has just received its biggest update yet. The newly revamped Chrome OS (R19) features a more traditional windowing desktop UI among other enhancements. Yesterday Samsung revealed two new Chrome OS devices to make use of the new OS; the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 and the Samsung Chromebox 3.

The Chrome OS update

The latest Chrome OS offers the user a desktop GUI rather like Windows 7. Previously the Chrome browser couldn’t be moved to display anything behind it but now it acts just like an app within Chrome OS. There is a quick-launch area on the lower left of the screen where you can pin your favourite apps. On the lower right of the screen are the settings, control panel and clock.

The new OS will be able to run online and offline using local storage which will be synced when you go back online using Google services (including Google Drive shortly). Local storage is something that Google wanted to move away from with its cloud computing vision but ideals often don’t meet practicality very closely. Offline editing of Google Docs isn’t in R19 but it is in testing and will be rolled out shortly.

Seth Rosenblatt of cnet has made an informative video showing how you work with the new Chrome OS and discussing some of its capabilities.

The new Samsung hardware

Samsung yesterday announced availability of two new Chrome OS devices in the form of the Series 5 550 Chromebook and Series 3 Chromebox. We are familiar with Chromebooks but this newly released model has a much more perky performance (2.5x using the v8 benchmark) thanks to using an Intel Dual Core processor in place of the slower Atom CPU in previous models. The Chromebook is being sold at $450 for the Wi-Fi version and $550 for the version with 3G data capability. The Series 5 550 has a 12.1 inch screen at 1280x800 pixels, 6 hours of battery life, 4GB of RAM, Ethernet and Wi-Fi and 2 USB ports.

 

The Chromebox is similar in size and shape to the Mac Mini, as you can see in the picture below. This computer is priced at $330 but you have to buy a monitor, keyboard and mouse to partner it. However you may be able to use your TV using the DisplayPort ++ connector. This mini computer is 3.5x faster than last year’s Chromebooks when tested with the JavaScript v8 benchmark suite.

 

Chromebooks/boxes sound appealing with their cloud services and updates handled by Google, hopefully keeping hackers and malicious software off your computing device. The systems have found favour in call centres and other group working situations. They are relatively easy to administrate and integrate into work environments. For computer enthusiasts the systems seem to be getting closer to being interesting but still too expensive for the capabilities offered. It is possible to try the Chrome OS booting from a USB stick on your existing computer if you like to tinker. (This didn’t work on my old CULV dual core laptop, which mustn’t be close enough to what was expected).



HEXUS Forums :: 9 Comments

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So now they're 2.5x faster? What's the point of that? Faster at what, benchmarks? The idea of these was to be cheap because they can run on rubbish hardware. So… what's changed and why should I buy one now?
Many can and do stay within the browser for all their PC use now anyway.
Price in on par with a cheap Windows based laptop that has its own storage.

I reckon 99% of computer users are not comfortable with cloud storage, and OS that relies on this type of storage will never succeed in this decade.
Chromebooks are a frontend for google Docs. I use Docs pretty much all the time, but personal use isn't really the point. The point where google docs really really wins for businesses is in collaborative use of documents (you can really have a bunch of users working on the same doc at the same time seeing what each other is doing, with granular rollback allowed so no worries about saving and restoring). For big multi-company projects, board papers etc that is a dream, as is giving out devices to end users without worrying about them breaking it by installing latest ‘your computer is too slow - install regtweaker turbo now!’
The Chromebox is similar in size and shape to the Mac Mini, as you can see in the picture below. This computer is priced at $330 but you have to buy a monitor, keyboard and mouse to partner it. However you may be able to use your TV using the DisplayPort ++ connector.
I still can't see the point of the Chromebooks - especially when they seem to be at least as expensive as a “proper” laptop/netbook. On the other hand the Chromebox - especially if it was a wee bitty(!!) cheaper, say £200 and could connect via HDMI - would be a nice way to add some Google goodness to the living room.
robertirwin
For big multi-company projects, board papers etc that is a dream, as is giving out devices to end users without worrying about them breaking it by installing latest ‘your computer is too slow - install regtweaker turbo now!’
Erm, not being any kind of Windows expert, but can't you do that with group policies already? Of course, you could always rollout Linux boxes, (cheap because Linux doesn't need a lot of hardware), and don't give users root.

As you say (in the bit I snipped out) Docs is the big deal, and that'll run on iOS, Android, Linux, etc.