Samsung and Acer are the first two netbook manufacturers to offer devices based on Chrome OS, the net operating system from Google.
Called Chromebooks, the devices both use Atom dual core processors. The Samsung weighs 1.48kg and offers a 12.1 inch 1280x8000 resolution screen with 8.5 hours claimed battery life. The Acer uses an 11.6 inch and offers six hours battery life. Both devices will be available from Amazon.com from June 15. Wi-Fi is built in and users will be able to purchase an optional 3G dongle. In the US users are being offered 100MB per month of free mobile data from Verizon Wireless.
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According to Google's Chrome OS website: "Chromebooks boot in eight seconds and resume instantly. Your favourite websites load quickly and run smoothly, with full support for the latest web standards and Adobe Flash."
There does not appear to be any local storage. Applications are stored in the Google cloud. Google is also providing a webstore with applications like TweetDeck, Google Maps, Google Docs among others.
Google says the operating system has been designed from the bottom up to be secure. Applications run in a so-called sandbox, designed to limit the damage a rogue application can cause; Chromebooks are automatically updated and any local data such as cookies and anything downloaded are encrypted.
On the Amazon website, one user who has seen a sample Chromebook says: "Web and software developers will have to tailor and support their programs for Chrome, which will take a while but undeniably will happen, once the popularity of this device increases."
Another Amazon reviewer said: "It's a great system, I have been running on Chrome OS for months now. My only negative comment is that I can't do photo-editing as I used to on my old windows PC. But because I know what this OS is all about and what it's trying to do, I have no reason to complain."
Reviewers on Amazon expect the Acer Wi-Fi Chromebook to sell for $349 while the Samsung model is expected to cost $429 (Wi-Fi) and $499 (Wi-Fi and 3G capable).
Google says ChromeOS has been designed to work on a variety of form factors, but at the moment it is only available on laptop, meaning a tablet version could be on the horizon, although the company did not confirm this.
The company claims businesses will buy Chromebooks because they offer significantly lower total cost of ownership figures, even when compared to a managed desktop environment. “You won’t need anti-virus and firewalls,” said Google.
Google also hinted that the products will be offered through a subscription package: “You will get warranty, service and a new computer with the Chromebook,” said the company.
“On average we find enterprises spend $3,000 per year on their PC environment for a well-managed PC desktop. We believe Chrome OS will be significantly cheaper.” The savings will come from the fact that Chromebooks reduce the need for administration software, maintenance and helpdesk costs, Google claimed.
Users will be able to access any browser application, and desktop applications via Citrix.