Google has quietly unveiled two new Chrome OS-powered laptops, starting at just £229. As we said in our recent review of the Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook, prices were far too high for a device that offered less than a traditional laptop at the same price.
This time, though, it looks like Google is much closer to the mark. For £229, you get an 11.6in screen with a decent 1366 x 768 resolution. Instead of an Intel chip, there's a 1.75GHz ARM-based processor and 2GB of RAM. There's now dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 and up to 6.5 hours of battery life.
The Samsung-built laptop has a similar design to previous Chromebooks, but it's even smaller and lighter. It's certainly light at 1.1kg and slim at 17.5mm, so it's no trouble to carry it everywhere with you. It has an SD card reader, one USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI output.
Running the same Chrome OS (operating system) as the Series 5 550, the new Chromebook boots up in under 10 seconds and includes the usual Google apps, and has a desktop like Windows where you can have multiple apps open.
Since you sign in with your Google details, it's easy to share a Chromebook with other family members, although at this price, you could buy more than one.
The price is arguably the most important factor here. The Series 5 550 (which you can still buy) was far too expensive considering the plastic build, but that's far more acceptable at £229. If you don't want to be limited to internet connectivity via Wi-Fi, a 3G version is available for £299. You also get 100GB of Google Drive space for cloud storage included for two years.
Internet connectivity is, of course, crucial with a Chromebook as it's really just a device for accessing the web and web-based apps. There's not much you can do offline.
Google is billing the new Chromebook as the computer 'For Everyone', and is already available for pre-order. The device will launch on October 26th - the same day Windows 8 launches.
We'll bring you a full review of the new Chromebook shortly.