Many people reading this review tangle up in features. They have a spec-sheet mindset that obscures seeing some products' benefits. Google gets the difference, and you should too. The paper holder that wraps around a Starbucks coffee cup is a feature. Protecting your hand from burning is a benefit. While related, the two are distinct. Any evaluation of Chromebook -- or any other thing to be purchased -- should focus on benefits first. Specs are a distraction.
In offering my first impressions about HP Chromebook 11, I step back from features and focus on benefits and who gets the most from them. Based on the out-of-the-box experience, for most people reading this review, I would not recommend the computer, which Google co-designed, over Intel Haswell-based Chromebooks. However, keeping with suspicions expressed yesterday, the tiny Chromebook would be right for students. Design, size, portability, functionality and value for price offer the right mix of benefits for preschool-to-grade 12 students. HP Chromebook 11 is what white MacBook was to kids last decade.
Nearly a year after unveiling an ARM-based Chromebook with Samsung, Google has a newer, costlier and not-so-updated model from HP. Like the older computer, screen dimensions, physical size and weight are comparable -- as is the stingy RAM, which as a long-time Chromebook user I must fault. But there's a sexy, new enclosure and four bright color accents that could make this tiny beauty the PC stocking stuffer of Holiday 2013.
HP's push into Chromebooks should disturb Microsoft. The manufacturer is the software giant's most-loyal OEM partner. If "traitor" isn't a word uttered in response throughout the hallowed halls of the Redmond, Wash. campus, it should be. Just as Microsoft moves Windows 8.1 to market, HP primes not one, but two, new Chromebooks -- the other with 14-inch display -- in the only segment of the PC market that is growing.
Google's self-promoting Chromebook educational sales is more than public relations fluff. Laptops running Chrome OS provided "all the growth" in the otherwise troubled U.S. retail PC market during back-to-school buying season, according to NPD. Otherwise, overall PC sales fell 2.5 percent, with desktops down 5 percent and notebooks off by 2 percent. Mac laptop sales sank 3 percent and Windows notebooks by 6 percent. Chromebook sales topped 175,000 units.
"Chromebook sales are being helped by demand for low-cost computing", Stephen Baker, NPD's vice president of industry analysis, tells me today. "We saw strong sales in under-$300 Windows products as well". But Windows is established, while Chromebook is new and necessitates a mind-shift reset: Mostly working in an Internet-connected web browser.
Big news came from Apple and Microsoft this week. Microsoft seemingly had a change of heart; having previously said that Windows 8.1 RTM would not be made available before its official launch date, the company announced that it would be released to people with TechNet and MSDN subscriptions.
The same group of people also gained access to the pre-release version of Skype. Microsoft was clearly in a very giving mood this week as the company also announced that it was giving free copies of Office 365 to non-profit organizations.
Today, at the Intel Developer Forum, Google and OEM partners unveiled plans to release new Chromebooks using Haswell chips. That means long battery life, on the order of MacBook Air, for a fraction of the price. Six top OEMs will produce Chromebooks, which isn't the best news for Microsoft and Windows 8.1. ASUS and Toshiba join Acer, HP, Lenovo and Samsung.
"Intel’s latest processors consume less power to improve battery life by more than 2X over previous generations, while offering increased performance", Caesar Sengupta, Google's Chromebook product manager, claims. "This means these new Chromebooks can last all day so you can focus on getting things done".
Five years. That's how long it is since Chrome was unleashed on an unsuspecting world. Five years and we've already made it to version 29! There will undoubtedly be a few glasses charged in celebration, but Google is also taking this special date as an opportunity to reveal a "new breed of Chrome Apps". Head to the Chrome Web Store and you'll find a new section: For Your Desktop.
Working online with web apps has become increasingly common, but traditional desktop apps are still more popular. Now Google is looking to blur the boundaries between the two, making web apps much more like desktop software. The key thing to note here is that the apps that are found in this section do not -- after the initial download process of course - require an internet connection: they can be used in offline mode.
When the Google+ Photo app was released as a Pixel exclusive in June, many Chromebook loyalists (including myself) were dismayed. Since the Pixel was so expensive, it felt as if non-Pixel users were being punished for buying inexpensive devices. Surely my $249 Samsung Chromebook can handle a photo app!
Today, Google announces that it has partnered with additional brick-and-mortar retailers to sell its Chromebooks. Walmart and Staples are being announced as immediate new partners, while select Office Depot, OfficeMax, Fry’s and TigerDirect stores will be coming later. Walmart is only carrying the Acer C7, while the other retailers will sport a mix of brands, including Acer, HP and Samsung. This is a good move for Google as it is sure to increase awareness of the company's ChromeOS and Chromebook line of computers. Currently, in the USA, Best Buy is the only physical retailer selling Chromebooks.
Google has also added new retail partners outside of the USA -- Tesco in the UK, Mediamarket and Saturn in the Netherlands, FNAC in France, Elgiganten stores in Sweden and JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman in Australia.
Seventh in a series. When I reported the original iPhone launch in June 2007, there was sense of history among the people waiting to buy. Several shared similar sentiment: That we would all look back in five or 10 years and see the mobile as a defining moment in computing. They were absolutely right. I feel similarly about Chromebook Pixel, not that as many people appreciate what it represents compared to the larger number of folks rushing to purchase Apple's smartphone.
Google's computer is an acquired taste, and so delish you don't easily go back. But there's a Vegemite quality. Most people wouldn't eat the spread, but ask those who do -- they can't live without it. Likewise, Chromebook Pixel isn't for everyone, but is for me and possibly could be for you, if given a chance.
Google may be a company of many personalities -- browser and operating system developer, connected-device manufacturer, fiber-optic Internet servicer, search giant and social network, among many others. But the core business is still about one thing: Advertising, as calendar first quarter results, delivered today after the closing bell, show.
Revenue rose 31 percent to $$13.97 billion, year over year; operating income, excluding Traffic Acquisition Costs, was $3.48 billion, up from $3.39 billion. Net income climbed to 3.35 billion up from $2.89 billion. That's $9.94 earnings per share, including costs associated with discontinued operations.
Now that's a question I never expected to ask on Easter morning. But instead of waking up to egg hunts, I'm haunted by Brian Fagioli's Google+ Chromebook Community post overnight. He stirs up the hornets nest today.
"Using Chrome OS is a lot like prisoners in jail making alcohol in the toilet", he writes. "Even when you are limited, you will find a way. While it is fun to find a way to do things despite the limitations of Chrome OS, the question remains: why do we choose to put ourselves in jail?"
Early this morning, Google announced a massive expansion of Chromebook distribution, including new countries and more Best Buys in the United States.
"Starting Tuesday, the Acer, HP and Samsung Chromebooks will begin rolling out in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands", Caesar Sengupta, Google product management director, says. "To help improve computing for organizations, we’re rolling out Chromebooks to businesses and schools in these same countries as well".
Blink and you missed it. Registration for Google's developer conference opened at 10 a.m. EDT this morning and sold out fast. With so much candy to offer -- Android Key Lime Pie, Chromebook Pixel, Glass and Google Now -- I'm not exactly surprised. Google I/O 2012 was big, and this year's event promises to be even bigger. I got the "Google I/O is sold out" on the registration page around 10:48 a.m.
Google charges $900 for general developer admission and $300 for students or school faculty. The event takes place in San Francisco from May 15-17. Considering the goodies Google gives attendees, some people might sign up just for the hope of free Glass or Pixel (don't hold your breath). Last year, attendees got Galaxy Nexus, Nexus Q and Nexus 7. Oh yeah, Train performed live.
I wasn't going to write this as a separate story, resorting to Google+ and Twitter posts instead. But, hey, I'm Mr. Chromebook over here and would be remiss not informing the two people who somehow missed the news (You know who you are). Drum roll. Finally, four months after Samsung released the Arm Chromebook, you have Netflix. Stream it, baby, because you finally can.
"Today we launched HTML5 video playback for streaming content from Netflix for the ARM-based Samsung Chromebook, so you can now enjoy your favorite Netflix shows & movies", according to Google. There's not lots of fanfare in the statement, but I expect some from those of you who can finally couch-potato before your Chrome OS toy.
If you surveyed the different directions K-12 school districts take in the United States, you'd find nothing less than a hodgepodge of technologies. The mess that was known as "Novell Hell" universally bows down to a diverse array of technologies including Active Directory, campus-wide Wi-Fi, iPads, Chromebooks, and a little bit of everything else in between. While it's reassuring that most districts I'm in discussions with are moving to cloud-based Google Apps or Office 365 for their email, the end-user device side of things is murkier.
I'm not going to call myself an expert in K-12 technology and policy, but seeing that I spent the last four years supporting and training users' technology needs at my former high school district, I've got good experience understanding the issues affecting teachers and students alike. After attending educational tech conferences year after year, the common consensus stands: everyone in education knows where they want to be, but the paths some of them take to get there are muddled with too much idealism and not enough realism.