New Google Chromebook is $249, swaps x86 for ARM

Google and Samsung are giving Chromeboook a mighty big makeover -- smaller screen, lower price and something unexpected: ARM processor. Say goodbye to x86, baby, and hello to $249 selling price, which is $200 less than Samsung's Series 5 550 model. The architectural change comes as Microsoft and its OEM partners prep ARM-based Windows RT computers for release in just eight days. Like Windows 8 systems, future Chromebooks will have either ARM or x86 processors.

ARM means there's more Samsung in the new model than ever before, which includes the microprocessor. That makes the new Chromebook a lot closer to an end-to-end product that Apple might make. Judging from Google-Samsung success with Galaxy Nexus, which feels integrated all the way -- hardware, services and software -- the new Chrome OS device promises much. Kilogram for kilogram, the device is ready to stand against MacBook Air, which offers same screen size and similar dimensions but starting price is $750 more. Then there are ultrabooks, some of which sell for even more than Apple's laptop.

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Remember, I switched from the high-end MacBook Air to Series 5 550 Chromebook about five months ago. Performance is similar all the way, and in many respects better. So it's not unreasonable to place some lofty expectations on the ARM-based model. That said, only testing will tell, and I'll offer a full first impressions report within a couple of days (If not for Google and Microsoft earnings coming later this afternoon, sooner). Architectural change will be the truest test of Google's cloud promise to date. Will web apps run as well, or at all? I'll let you know.

But I'll say this. There's no mistaking the design similarities to MacBook Air, which can't be accidental. Will performance be good enough, by comparison? Testing will tell.

Quick specs: Samsung Exynos 5 dual-core processor; 11.6-inch display, 1366x768 resolution, 200-nit brightness; 2GB RAM; 16GB SSD; SD-card slot; VGA camera; USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports (one each); Bluetooth 3.0 compatible; HDMI port; Chrome OS. Weighs 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg) and is 0.8 inches thick. The new design moves the ports to the back from the side.

I have some reservations about the processor's real power and memory easily could be inadequate. Samsung's newer x86 Chromebook is fast compared to the original's sluggishness, and RAM is a major reason; 2GB in the old, 4GB in the new. So my trepidation runs high, regarding memory. I'm not loving the idea of 200-nit brightness, but, again, only testing will tell. Google states 6.5 hours battery life, which is good but I would expect more from an ARM processor.

Google's tagline for the new Chromebook is "for everyone", which reveals all you need to know about the target market. That starts with the $249 price, which is tough to beat. Plenty of people griped about the current Samsung x86 model costing too much for what they get -- $449 for WiFi-only, $549 with Verizon 3G wireless added. I see $249 as a pretty irresistible price, assuming performance is there. That's for WiFi-only; there is no 3G model at this time. Yesterday, Derrick Wlodarz offered refreshing perspective about Surface and Chromebook prospects in k-12 education, in part because of their easier manageability to say iPad. The new Chrome OS-based mobile cranks up the pricing appeal.

That goes for anyone who embraces the cloud and/or the Google lifestyle. I could outfit my home office with the new Chromebook ($249), Galaxy Nexus smartphone ($349) and Nexus 7 tablet ($199) for $797 -- less than just MacBook Air or most ultrabooks. Sure, there's no Core i processor. But do you need it? Particularly for cash-strapped students, sole-proprietors and small business owners the answer will be no. Then there are home users looking for a new PC but not wanting to spend big bucks.

"Many people use the Chromebook today as the perfect additional computer for their home", Sundar Pichai, Google senior veep, claims. "For families, it’s easy to use and share: for kids doing homework on the couch, parents catching up on emails at the kitchen counter and grandparents staying connected on video chat". That's our household experience.

Google, and also Samsung, make a big value play here -- leveraging the cloud. To facilitate that, the new Chromebook comes with 100GB free Google Drive storage for 2 years.

"Starting today, the new Samsung Chromebook is available for pre-order online from Amazon, Best Buy, PC World and other retailers", Pichai says. "Next week it will be available for sale from these same online retailers as well as the Google Play store. You can also buy them at over 500 Best Buy stores across the U.S and over 30 PC World and Currys stores in the UK".

Pre-orders start at 3 pm EDT. Note that Google will sell direct starting next week.

48 Responses to New Google Chromebook is $249, swaps x86 for ARM

  1. Ali Elhajj says:

    Hey Joe, what's your experience with running powerpoint on one of these?

  2. carigis says:

    I like the price.. for an x86, but why not just buy a tablet and cheap keyboard.

    • CA says:

      Because that would be considered LOGICAL and RATIONAL and NON-FOOLISH!!!

      And, as we all know VERY VERY well by now, that is something Joe doesnt come equipped with!!!!

      SMIRK, COUGH, LMFAO!!!!!!!!

      • mshulman says:

        Where can you get a tablet plus a keyboard for $249?

        You do realize for many, even $249 is a big expense. While I would never use one of these myself, clearly there is a market for it and for the person who simply browses the web and uses email, its actually a great choice - a smarter choice than a tablet in fact.

      • SPM says:

        The problem is that a lot of these posters really are fanboys (with the emphasis on boys). They want something really cheap that their pocket money can stretch to, and wishful thinking and fantasy over Windows PC and tablet prices takes over.

        Think about it - if they really could find Windows laptops or tablets at the price they are claiming they can get one for, they would have bought one instead of frequenting this blog and griping about Chromebook prices.

      • markt9002 says:

        What do you recommend, SPM? All tablets these days are crippled, and overpriced. The $200 Nexus 7 is an outlier, because of its price.

  3. Joco says:

    If there is no WiFi access in a classroom. How can the student save their works? Can documents be saved in the Chromebook internal storage?

    • Geemen says:

      As mentioned in the article, it comes with an sd card slot.

    • SPM says:

      I wouldn't get a Chromebook unless you have WiFi or LAN access.
      If your school or business intends you to use Chromebooks, then they will provide you with WiFi on the premises - not that any school or employer will allow you to randomly use a computer or tablet in class or office time unless it is on the curriculum.

  4. Joco says:

    Hi Joe,

    In your upcoming review of the ARM Chromebook. Can you please review the "offline" scenario? i.e can we still use the Chromebook to take notes, write documents, listen to music, view videos stored internally, etc.?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Bobby Moreno says:

      Hey my chrome book came in yesterday. You can do everything you listed. You can save the music/videos to your 16gb ssd or you can play them off your flash drive or sd card. You get a bare-bone file manager but it does exactly what it needs to do.

  5. alysa says:

    I bet Gmail web app on Chrome OS uses more memory and processing power than the biggest desktop mail client Outlook 2010. Compare functionality of Gmail and Outlook and tell me if really Chrome OS makes sense? Web apps will never be on par with native apps in functionality and resource usage (for now)...Chrome OS is ridiculous fail...

  6. Mr. Steveo says:

    Yes Documents and Gmail can both be edited and saved while offline with Chromebooks.

    I look forward to your early review of this 3rd Gen ChromeOS flip-top!

  7. woe says:

    Well at least the old one could be turned into a real computer by installing a different OS on the box...Ubuntu, Windows 7...etc.

    This one is basically worthless since you cant install another OS on it. Consumers will care even less...if that is possible.

    • view2share says:

      And you have used Google ChromeOS???

    • TomL_12953 says:

      It's not worthless at all! The intended market doesn't want to install another OS; They don't even know what an OS is! All they want to do is read their email, maybe do a little video chatting and Web surf to check their Facebook or look up a recipe. It's not the right device for you or me but the market for a device like this is tremendous! They outnumber us tech folks by a wide margin.

  8. apogee001 says:

    Zzzz....Zzzz....Zzzz....

  9. bobby frank says:

    Hey Joe: Thanks for this great article.
    BIG QUESTION: Should I swap out the 2 Samsung 550's i just bought last week for my teenagers for this new model and save myself a total of $500? Will this new model perform as well? Btw, is an ARM processor better than the one x86 in my kids' current Samsung 550?

    • Joe Wilcox says:

      Performance is absolutely slower on the $249 Chromebook. The Q is what's good enough for the money. I really like the keyboard and overall ergonomics better of the cheaper model. At the request of someone on Google+, I did quick Peacekeeper benchmarks yesterday from my live account (extensions loaded) rather than guest account: 971 for $249 Chromebook, 1848 for the 550. The newer one has Chrome OS 23, but the older is (supposedly) up to date at Chrome 21.

      Bottom line: I find video to disappoint on the cheaper model compared to the older one. If the teens do Netflix and YouTube, this might not be best choice. Otherwise, the higher screen resolution, better keyboard and coolness (no fan needed with arm) make up for what performance what your teens will loose from the 550.

  10. emmett gulley says:

    what's the processor speed??? If it's anything below 2.0, then there's the reason for the $299 price tag.

    Never mind, This new chromebook sucks the big one because it's slower than any mainstream computer. You can't even play today's games on this POS

  11. scophi says:

    Many of you are ripping on the Chromebook, but I find it to be very handy. It's very light, has a full keyboard, instant on (seriously, it's on before you finish opening the lid), no security issues, always updated, a file browser, plenty of ports, good battery life...and if your comfortable in the Google environment it is a very productive experience. I don't see the problem. It works great for me.

    Keep in mind, it's not trying to compete with a full laptop, so your comparisons are a little unfair. But it does it's simple job well. You can get MS Office usability with the InstallFree Nexus or Zoho's Suite apps (yes, including PowerPoint).

    • CA says:

      Oh gageezus!!!!!

      Chromebook = cant compete with laptops
      Chromebook = cant compete with Tablets (yeah, might as well, IPADS!!!!)
      Chromebook = cant compete with netbooks

      Um yeah, appears Chromebook can only compete with = GARBAGE THAT FAILED!!!

      • scophi says:

        I already mentioned that they aren't trying to compete with laptops.

        But it's larger than a tablet and has a full-size keyboard. It's also faster and more versatile than a netbook.

        Yeah, I'll stay with the Chromebook. (Cheaper, too).

  12. danman1111 says:

    $249 is the right price!

    I recently commented that a $500 chromebook couldn't compete with a $500 tablet. But a $250 chromebook, perfect. This will really be a challenge to MS, since a Chromebook will do most of what a PC will do for half the price. Imagine buying a Chromebook for the price of a windows license. Sure it will take from OSX too, but I imagine that MS will be hurt much more and MS won't have an answer for this.

    • CA says:

      Oh yeah, like totally, like so rad man!

      I mean, outside of the geekiest of geeks, A WHOLE, umm, about 20 or 30 NORMAL people with more money to burn than Apple customers will buy this trash!!!

      HAHAHAHA!!!!

  13. IT advisor says:

    It makes sense to switch from Intel x86 to the ARM processor.

    People who need processor grunt (video editors, 3D graphic professionals etc) will use a full PC or high-powered laptop for those uses.

    People who use a Chromebook will primarily be accessing online services. So ARM makes sense.

    The MacBook Air seems to occupy a diminishing market, caught in a nowhere land between the PC and light weight post-PC (ARM) devices. Nobody's going to do serious video editing on a MacBook Air, and those who just want to stay connected will migrate to ARM devices.

    • CA says:

      Yeah, IT MAKES TOTAL SENSE!!!!!

      Product A (chromgarbage X86) = PURE PRODUCT FAILURE
      So switching Product A to Product B (chromgarbage ARM) makes TOTAL SENSE!!

      I mean, WHY WHY WHY have ONE utter FAIL, when you can have TWO!!!?????

      I mean, two is better than one, no?

      LOL!!!

  14. CA says:

    AAAHHHHHHHHH HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!

    "Performance is similar all the way, and in many respects better."

    OH-MY-GOD!!!!

    Joe, seriously, REALLY????

    So you and all the other foolish ones who fell for the chromebook SCAM (get it? scam-sung!! LOL) are parroting this whole "better" BLATANT LIE???
    Yes you and ALLLL the other 300-400 people who fell for it, now are being SLAPPED upside the head with this insult??? LOL!

    Not only do you have a HLAF-BAKED TABLET in this hideous piece of garbage, NOW they are changing the business model all-together????
    You know what that means???..... A MIGHTY HUGE BIG FAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Yes dont cry about it, but business DO NOT OVERHAUL, OVERNIGHT, a successful product!!! This equates to the market answer of; SCAMSUNG HAS ANOTHER PIECE OF GARBAGE IN THEIR LINEUP JUST TO MAKE GOOGLE HAPPY!!!!

    Mr. Thrilcox....!!! HOW DO YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT!!!!????????????

    LOL ROTFLMFAO!!!!!!

    • sborchert says:

      CA - You're completely missing the point. Why are you so offended that there is a cheap option for light computer users. I myself am a power user. However, i can't tell you how purely sick and tired I am of my family members calling me up asking to fix their pc they downloaded a virus on and asking me to fix it!!!! And then i hear they haven't even turned it on for weeks, months because of the virus. And when they do turn it on, it takes forever to load and there's ton's of popup window saying update, update, update. You need to realize there are so many people who simply want to browse the web, use facebook and check email. In my immediate family I can think of at least 20 people like this. I would never consider this laptop for myself, BUT, i wish I had one to give to each of my family members so that they can mindlessly do these basic things. Plus having it turn on instantly is a big plus. And $250 is nothing, who cares if it's garbage at that price. Worst case it dies after so many years and you lose nothing because it's all on the cloud. I've had numerous hard drives fail on my PCs and the headache of repairing/recovering to go with it. Again, if you are fortunate enough to know how to save yourself in these situations, you lucky, otherwise, one call to the geek squad will cost a pretty penny. If you don't like it, just don't buy it. It's obviously not for you. You sound so offended that everyone doesn't agree with you.

      • sborchert says:

        Ha, actually, nevermind. I just read your BIO. You're just another one of "those" fanboys who can't see past an apple product. It's not apple so you think you need to hate it for no other reason.

      • CA says:

        Actually I am one of "those" consumers who just likes stuff to "work"
        when I need it! And ever since I bought my first iPhone, the iPhone 3G,
        and seeing how nothing I ever purchased before it came within 50% of its
        quality and reliability, I decided to venture out into other Apple
        products then buying my first macbook, then airport extreme, then iMac,
        then Apple TV, then iPad, and every iterations of iphone and iPad since,
        and now waiting for the iPad Mini.

        And for every comment I post which can be considered "pro-Apple" there
        are 10 comments from the geeks bashing Apple or insulting me for being
        pro-apple.

        As for being a "power-user", yeah welcome to the club. I have been
        building PC since I was 15 years old using Windows 3.0 and MS DOS 6.0 as
        the base... And yes it is annoying when everybody thinks that just
        because your the "IT Guy" in the family or group of friends then can
        pull you aside for "just take a look, for a minute" which turns into
        hours because what they have downloaded has locked them out of their own
        Admin account and slaughtered their registry and copied itself into
        dozens of folders. Then when Spybot Search and Destroy doesnt work you
        have to hunt down the processes and services both displayed and thru
        command prompt to figure out which ones are malware, and this is tricky
        since sometimes these "files" name themselves after Windows system files
        so you have to check the properties to take them out individually.

        And because of this, and how I magically never seem to get these bugs,
        (especially now on Apple systems), I have switched to and recommend to
        everyone to go Apple. I have made it clear, if you buy ANYTHING
        technology, that is not Apple, DO NOT BOTHER BOTHERING ME!

        I wanrned you, and now you can spend those extra 2,3, $400 you think you
        saved on paying some other "IT GUY" to fix your krappy laptop!!!!!

      • SPM says:

        You can't blame the guy for being offended at the idea that others might buy Chromebooks or Samsung products - he's gone and bought a lot of expensive Apple gizmos and then Samsung brings out cheaper and better stuff. He prides himself in being a power user, but Chromebooks short out the need to be a power user, and with their zero maintenance feature, nobody needs what he considers to be his skills any more. If I was him I would be mad too.

  15. ToeKneeC67 says:

    Awesome, selling stuff and zero profit will help their stocks :)
    So this, or an iPad mini for 50 more or wait a coupe months and get a Windows RT system for about the same (and those cash strapped students and do more).

    • mshulman says:

      I'm not chrome book fan, but lets wait and see what the iPad mini pricing is. This is also a bigger screen than both a mini or full iPad. Seems like a good device for someone who has basic needs.

    • markt9002 says:

      Haha, $50 more? Try $129 more than the 16gb Nexus 7, and $179 more than the Nexus 7 32gb -- the Nexus 7 has a higher resolution, btw. You seriously have to be technologically ignorant to buy a device for $329 with a 1024 x 768 resolution. I do not want anything to do with that. I've been using a 27" 1920 x 1200 for 5 years now, and I can buy a 27" 2560x1440 IPS monitor for less than the cheapest iPad mini.

      • ToeKneeC67 says:

        First - my iPad Mini is primarily going to be my remote control for my home theater, resolution doesn't matter. And really what is 100 bucks, couple dinners out for most - but for that you just get a more polished OS, average price apps is lower, and general better looking (and no viruses). But even on that, I'm not sure you understand resolution, dpi and how the eye perceives things. 1024 x 768 on a 7 inch probably would look better than 1920 x 1200 on a 27 inch...how can I put this, think of 1920 x 1200 on a 27 inch, 60 inch and than on a 7 inch.That 7 inch is going to be your best picture. Regardless, million of people, including myself, had the first iPad, 1024 x 768 on a large tablet size - it was without a doubt fine. Don't get me wrong, I like retina.

        And I'm just getting it until I pick out my Windows 8 Pro Tablet in a couple months. I happen to be a Windows Fan, Xbox, and of course use tons of their Enterprise servers and apps.

  16. ilev says:

    Good for Samsung as Apple has dumped them fully.

  17. ToeKneeC67 says:

    So let me think about this, going to Newegg I can get a full Windows 8 laptop, 15.6 inch monitor, 4 Gigs RAM, 320 Gig HD, DVD burner - all for 100 dollars more. 250 is crappy price for a device that has an OS that is in beta/testing/infancy mode.

    • JLo says:

      Toeknee: this is a computer cloud base and its made for another market. You are looking for a laptop where you can run lot of different applications, play a cd or games... This computer is made for people who wants to sit on the couch and look trough emails, surf the web, update docs online ( and offline) and manage all the information on the cloud.

      • ToeKneeC67 says:

        I agree to a point - but what an interesting market (see below) And even then $100 more Windows 8 laptop which can still do Google Docs and Google Cloud stuff, plus all that Windows has to offer. The best of both worlds.

        I'm starting to form the opinion the Chrome OS market is cheap skates or anti windows/ipads or tech geeks that don't mind testing bleeding edge/half baked idea (that last one would be me.)

        Not saying it isn't cool, the idea is cool, the idea is most likely the future. But all the articles are not about the idea but "look how cheap it is".

  18. sportmac says:

    Well, Joe is a tool. He does however have it right with the Chromebook. No matter how much the nerdbois go on and on and on about "more" (and they will, ad nauseam) there are a lot of people who don't do "more". My entire family back in that small town in Ohio do Facebook, email and browsing. No "more" required.
    If this thing can handle streaming and video chats without major hiccups then it's the perfect machine for them. No os upgrade costs or headaches, no virus software, costs or headaches. There's a downside to this?
    I replaced my mom's aging Dell with one when they came out. She hasn't missed a beat.
    I'm sure the nerdbois will have "more" to say but my mom could care less.

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