Yesterday, Mountain View-based Google unveiled their latest budget Chromebook, which runs their cloud-based Chrome OS. With an 11-inch screen, the Chromebook’s best competitor is the MacBook Air, given both their low-profile designs.
Surprisingly, for its price, the Chromebook is a solid piece of hardware, offering a dual-core ARM based processor with 2 GB of onboard RAM. While 16 GB of Flash storage isn’t a lot, the Chromebook is designed with web services in mind. However, 16 GB is more than enough to store local files and media for offline use.
Overall, when considering the Chromebook’s value-to-cost ratio, you’d be hard-pressed to find any major flaws. Granted, it has nowhere near the speed velocity of the MacBook Air, but fur light computing around the house or on the train, it’s a no brainer.
The Chromebook doesn’t skimp on features, either. Supporting 802.11g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, it has a full-size SD card reader, USB 2.0 port, USB 3.0 port, and video out. More than enough to get you through the day, and comparable to the aforementioned MacBook Air.
Although the new 11-inch Chromebook has a slightly lower-quality display than previous generations, you can’t differentiate the 1368 x 768 screen compared to the 1280 x 800 screens used on the higher-end – and slightly larger – 12-inch Chromebook. Viewing angles, though, left something to be desired. Keeping in mind the price, the screen is beyond acceptable. The matte finish is a nice plus, given it will reduce glare when used in direct sunlight.
The 11-inch Google Chromebook is surprisingly thin and light, measuring 0.8-inches thick and weighing 2.5 pounds. Overall, the appearance resembles the higher-end Samsung Chromebook 550, which debuted earlier this year. The plastic silver design doesn’t appear as solid or sturdy as Apple’s metal MacBook Air, but for a fourth of the price, we’re not complaining.
Google Will PAY You to Buy a Chromebook
We weren’t kidding, Google will actually pay you to buy their shiny new Chromebook. Now, the search giant isn’t going to cut you a check, but they offer 100 GB of Google Drive storage, which would cost $120 on its own. Google, in partnership with GoGo, is also offering 12 in-flight wireless passes with the Chromebook, a $150 value, perfect for frequent business travelers.
Wrap Up: It’s Not for Everyone
While the Chromebook is selling at a very attractive price, it isn’t for everyone. It’s not a full-featured PC; the limitations of the Chrome OS are too extensive to be used as a desktop operating system. Nonetheless, the Chromebook is an inexpensive quasi-laptop, with its best use case being the classroom.
The Chromebook has a niche use at best, given it needs to be connected to the Internet for most tasks. Google is positioning the device as a supplemental system for around the house, such as in your kitchen when you need the instant-on, ready-to-go convenience of a PC.