The number of devices running Google's Chrome OS is about to significantly increase. At a press event in San Francisco yesterday, Intel and Google upped Chrome system designs to 20 by introducing a bunch of new computers and notebooks from OEM partners like Acer, LG, Asus, Dell and Lenovo, including a few powered by the latest generation Core i3 processors.
"Intel has grown to become the No. 1 microprocessor in Chrome systems," said Navin Shenoy, vice president and general manager of Intel Mobile Client Platforms Group. "We've been working on five generations of Chrome and after Google, Intel is the largest contributor to the Chromium OS. Intel chips are the first and only to support 64-bit Chrome OS."
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The first of the new Chrome devices announced at the Intel/Google Chrome event are all built around a Haswell-based Intel Celeron processor. HP will add some colorful Chromeboxes to its Chrome OS device catalog, which will be available in the US from next month. In addition to finding their way onto desktops and under TVs, the new HP devices are being pitched as a good fit for digital signage and kiosk deployment.
LG is finally bringing its Chromebase AIO to the US, after showcasing it at this year's CES show in Las Vegas. The family-friendly computer is based around Intel's 4th generation (Haswell) Celeron processor, has a 21.5-inch Full HD IPS display with built-in 1.3 MP webcam and 5-watt speakers, and comes supplied with input/output peripherals. It will carry a suggested retail price of US$349.99, and is due to hit store shelves from the end of this month.
Manufacturers will be introducing the first Chrome OS devices based on Intel's Bay Trail-M system-on-chip during 2014. Bay Trail has been optimized for low power (with the promise of up to 11 hours of battery life), strong performance and low cost. The new devices will include the first fanless Intel Chromebooks for quiet operation in a thin and light form factor, and sport 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
"Every Chromebook keeps getting better over time," said Caesar Sengupta, vice president of product management for Chrome OS. "This is what differentiates it from every other operating system in the market, every 6 weeks all Chromebooks that are in the field will update with the latest and greatest. So your device keeps getting better. Think about what type of device you can buy in consumer electronics that actually gets better over time."
Lenovo opted to show its hand before the event with the Celeron-based N20 and N20p. Asus has now revealed that two Chromebooks will be joining its Chromebox – the 11.6-inch C200 and the 13.3-inch C300. Each model is powered by a 2.42 GHz Bay Trail-M processor, and sports an LED-backlit display with a resolution of 1366 x 768, HDMI-out, and two USB ports, one of which is USB 3.0. The C200 ships with 2 GB of RAM and is available in 16 GB and 32 GB configurations, while the C300 has 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. They'll be available from the end of June, prices start at $249.99.
A new 13-inch Toshiba Chromebook based on the Bay Trail-M architecture was also revealed, though no detail was forthcoming. In addition to releasing an all-new 11.6-inch Bay Trail-M Chromebook later in the year, Acer will be upgrading its C720 to Intel's 4th gen Core i3 processor. Said to be smoother and faster than current models, it will be made ready for release in time for the return to school at a starting price of $349.99.
Dell revealed a new configuration of its Chromebook 11 featuring Intel's 4th gen Core i3 processor. Intel's Shenoy said that power users and small/medium business customers can look forward to extremely responsive device with smooth, multi-tab surfing of content-rich websites. This model will also be available later in the year.
"We're adding Google Now and voice actions to Chromebooks," revealed Sengupta. "And it's built directly into the platform, so within the next few weeks and months, you'll be able to do stuff with your laptop that's never been done before." He also confirmed that Google will be rolling out its Play Movies app in the next few weeks that will allow users to watch films both online and off.
The video below outlines some of the claimed benefits of using a Chrome device with Intel Inside.