Google's Chromebook is finally a real, live, (metaphorically) breathing thing. Several models with varying prices are available, and initial reviews have started coming back. Here's a brief look at all your specs, options, and early-phase feedback.
The Options and Specs
On release, there are two locations where you absolutely can pick up the Chromebook: Amazon.com and BestBuy Online. It's also possible that you can pick up a Chromebook in your area, but the store release is limited. You can check for local availability at the official Google Chromebook site. However you nab yours, though, you'll have a couple core models and a few optional extras. Specifically:
The ACER AC7000
- Specs: 1.66 GHz Intel® ATOM Processor N570 | 16 GB solid state hard drive | 2GB DDR3 RAM | 11.24" screen | 6 hours of estimated battery life | 3.19 lbs | HD audio support | HDMI port
- Options: Built-in 3G
- Cost: $349 for the WiFi only version, $429 for the built-in 3G version.
The Samsung Series 5
- Specs: 1.66 GHz Intel® ATOM Processor N570 | 16 GB solid state hard drive | 2GB DDR3 RAM | 12.1" screen | 8.5 hours of estimated battery life | 3.3 lbs | VGA port | Screen offers 16:10 Aspect Ratio and 300 nits Brightness
- Options: "Arctic white" or standard black color options | Built-in 3G
- Cost: $429 for WiFi only version, $499 for built-in 3G
Which Chromebook Is Best?
As you can see, the systems are essentially identical on several fronts, with Samsung offering a slightly larger and brighter screen and a longer battery life for the extra $70 to $80 in price. ACER, meanwhile, gives HD audio support and an HDMI hookup.
Early reviews haven't come to a clear winner, although the Samsung Series 5 – which shipped for reviews earlier than ACER – is getting some glowing feedback on its design, especially the amazingly bright screen and the impressively spacious netbook keyboard.
The battery life also lived up to Samsung's declared 8.5 hours, and it was noted that closing the lid was enough to stop any power drain. Complaints on the Series 5 were limited to issues with the buttonless touchpad (which mistakes some clicks) and problems with the limitations of Chrome OS itself.
ACER reviews are more limited at this stage, but the design – including a "comfortable keyboard" – has been complimented and the six hours of official estimated battery life has been exceeded; some reviewers have noted an approximate 8-hour lifespan for continuous use.
Make no mistake: Chrome OS is in the early phases, and only users who are confident they can work within the new parameters should jump on board. That said, these systems seem to live up to their price point while raising the bar on numerous fronts.
ISYS Technologies, a computer manufacturer and patent holding company, filed a federal lawsuit last week against Google in an attempt to block Google, Amazon, Acer, Samsung, and Best Buy from selling Chrome products, the AP reported. ISYS alleged that Google's Chrome operating system violates trademarks for ISYS's ChromiumPC Modular Computer, due out this fall.
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