Post contributed by Alex Aubuchon -
Google recently announced that it is dropping the price of its ChromeBook laptop computer to $299, just in time for the holidays.
The ChromeBook, manufactured by both Samsung and Acer, is essentially a web browser with a screen and keyboard. The computer doesn't have a traditional operating system; instead, its “Chrome OS” pseudo-operating system just runs the Google Chrome web browser, through which the entire computer operates. This means there is no software installed on the computer. Chrome's selection of apps functions as software, all of which is stored through the user's Google account.
The obvious drawback to this system is that it essentially requires an Internet connection to function. ChromeBooks do support both WiFi and 3G internet, but if you're separated from the Internet for any reason, there's precious little the machine can do – Google has created a Gmail offline app that allows users to read and manage their mailbox while offline; Google Calendar and Google Docs have similar offline functionality, but other than those three applications, there is little a ChromeBook user can do offline.
Even at $299, the ChromeBook is a tough sell. For around the same price, buyers could get themselves an older model Samsung Galaxy Tab, offering similar functionality with the ability to use Android apps offline. And for just a hundred dollars more, an array of tablet computing options open up, including the industry-leading iPad 2. The Kindle Fire is also in the running as a ChromeBook alternative at only $199. And for $300, a savvy buyer can find themselves a host of true Windows netbooks and laptops, each of which offers infinitely more functionality.
Google seems to be targeting prospective tablet buyers with this product, offering essentially a tablet with a full keyboard in a single unit. But if it looks like a laptop and has the portability of a laptop, it should have laptop functionality as well.
Sources - Google drops price of Chromebook, Washington Post.com
Google product page