A plethora of new Intel-powered Chrome OS devices were announces at a press conference hosted Wednesday by tech giant Google and chip manufacturer Intel. The event, which featured Caesar Sengupta from Google, and Navin Shenoy, vice president and general manager of mobile computing at Intel, announced, among other things, Chromebooks powered by Intel’s low-energy Bay Trail chipset, which will enable the lightweight computers running the Linux-based, web-centric operating system from Google to reportedly have 11 hours of battery life. Other devices announced include Intel’s Haswell and Core i3 chips.
The LG Chromebase, the first all-in-one Chrome OS PC, has been announced to be made available to US customers on May 26. With 2 GB of memory, a 16GB SSD (solid state drive), and a dual-core Intel Haswell CPU, LG has followed the usual specifications found on most Chromebooks. For those unfamiliar with Chromebooks, these specifications would probably be seem insufficient. However, what makes Chromebooks and the Chromebase stand out, is that they run Google‘s Chrome OS. Chrome OS is based upon Linux, so is very light and does not need many resources. In addition, since it only runs internet applications, it does not need many resources.
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 Lenovo is pitching its new Chromebooks at consumers, it's likely that they'll be popular in school systems--especially the less expensive N20 model. School systems around the U.S. are purchasing Chromebooks for students, a trend that Google could subsidize and one that is reminiscent of Apple's strong focus on the education market from years ago. Westwood High School in Massachussetts is buying Chromebooks to issue to students who will return them once they graduate. The Bell-Chatham school board has approved Chromebook purchases for students, as has the Sumner School District.
One theory is that a new Chromebook Pixel will be announced, as the current model utilizes a Intel Core i5, the most powerful of any Chromebook. The Pixel hasn’t been changed since its release last February, and it could be time for Google to refresh its crown jewel, high-end Chromebook. Another collaboration with Intel could bring more power to the Chromebook line and make Chromebooks more appealing for resource-hungry users.
So when you consider your next PC purchase, give ChromeOS a consideration and when you look at the sales on Amazon, it appears many people are starting to do just that. I would suggest though if you are looking for a Chromebook replacement to a bulky desktop PC with features you don’t need, you go for as large a screen as possible. 14″ seems to be the best size and accommodates web pages, apps et al, comfortably.
Power is not generally associated with Chromebooks, since they utilize either ARM processors, like tablets, or Intel’s Celeron processors. Google‘s Pixel was the only Chromebook that could be described as powerful because it uses one of Intel’s Core i5 processors. However, on Monday we saw an Acer Chromebook that is powered by an Intel Core i3 processor. This is a large jump from the usual low power processors found in most Chromebooks, and will offer that power at a much lower price than the Chromebook Pixel.
Google already provided the Chromebook Business Management Console to businesses, but now these businesses can work with familiar companies to use it in their business. In addition, with major manufacturers offering Chromebooks, including Dell, HP, Samsung, Acer, and Lenovo, businesses can stick with a preferred brand and have a wide variety of Chromebooks to manage.
The second update to Sailfish for the Nexus 4 was released in mid-April at version 220.127.116.11. This newest update fixes phone calls so audio now actually work, timers and alarms now work, HTMI5 video and audio work within the browser, and the update is based upon the latest Sailfish code. There is though still some known issues with securely powering off the device, phone call audio volume not changing with the volume buttons, and other bugs.
Due to Google being the creator of both Android and Chrome OS, they have begun to experiment with these operating systems, combining them to create unique features, like how Apple does with their iOS devices and Mac OS X line of computers. Previously, Muktware mentioned Google working on alternative methods for unlocking Chromebooks, but the Android Police discovered one such development in the works on Chromebooks running the Dev channel. (The Dev channel is Google’s early release channel, through which Chromebook users can get new features earlier but are unstable, so sometimes cause problems).
Chromebooks have been able to show system performance through the Task Manager in the Chrome browser, however a future update is showing a new way to view a Chromebook’s system performance. Currently, on the stable build for Chromebooks, going to the chrome://power page allows users to view battery performance over time in the form of a chart. However, the Beta channel shows not only battery performance on this page, but CPU performance over time, too. This view gives Chromebook users a better idea of Chromebook CPU usage. (The Beta channel is one of Google‘s early release channels, where users can receive future updates early, though they can be unstable.)
Google just announced their list of accepted student projects for this year's Google Summer of Code. After going through all of the projects on the list for the different upstream open-source projects involved, there's a ton of improvements to be worked on by students this summer and financed by Google. This is perhaps the most exciting Google Summer of Code ever.
Chromebooks--portable computers that run Google's Chrome OS platform--are seeing rapid adoption in many niche markets, including the education market, but the holy grail for Google is to get them in the hands of enterprise users. To achieve that goal, there needs to be a solution that bridges the world of Windows applications with Chrome OS. And, Google and others are working on exactly that challenge.