Chromebook revolutionizes PC market

Superior to other laptops and cheaper than the iPad, the device launched this week represents history in the making.

By TheStreet Staff Oct 20, 2012 3:28PM

thestreet.com LOGOLast year's model of the Chromebook laptop displayed in a London store in December © Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBy Anton Wahlman

 

Just as Google (GOOG) was sending investors into paroxysms with the inadvertent release of its latest quarterly financial results on Oct. 18, the company was unveiling the latest Chromebook laptop computer, which will sell for $249.  The device represents a technology broadside against chief rivals Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple (AAPL) and the rest of the PC industry. (Microsoft owns and publishes MSN Money.)


This is a very significant threat to Microsoft and Apple and is unwelcome news for Intel (INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), the leading suppliers of the microprocessors and chip sets that run most personal computers.


The new laptop, made by Samsung, looks almost identical to the Apple MacBook Air with an 11.6-inch display, which retails for $999 and up. The Chromebook doesn't have a hard drive. Users with an Internet connection get to information and applications stored in large data centers.


The new Chromebook may be the first volume-manufactured laptop that doesn't have a fan, which it doesn't need because it's not needed. The device is as quiet and cool as any smartphone or tablet.

 

Enabling this fan-less laptop is a Samsung chip that is among the first to be based on ARM's (ARMH) A15 architecture. This is basically the kind of chip just now appearing in high-end smartphones.

 

The reason Google is able to run a laptop (and soon, a desktop PC) with a chip designed for mobile phones is that the computers use software that is "lighter," or more efficient, than comparable devices using either Microsoft's or Apple's operating systems. 


A big reason for the price differential between the Chromebook and other laptops is that it doesn't have to come pre-loaded with an operating system. 

 

And because the Chromebook runs as cool as an iPad, Google and Samsung have found what looks like the Holy Grail of computing, folks.


A launch of historical significance


The Chromebook can run at least 6.5 hours on a battery charge. It weighs 2.5 pounds and is only 0.8-inch thick. These specs mean it's not only visually similar to the 11.6-inch MacBook Air but also performs like a champ. 

 

Starting Oct. 22, consumers can buy the Chromebook from Google online, at Best Buy (BBY) stores, at Amazon.com (AMZN) or from other outlets.

 

Those of us who are Google shareholders sustained a temporary setback with Thursday's unfortunate earnings release, which sent shares plummeting as much as 11% and shaved about $22 billion in market value from the company. But much of the computing industry felt the pain form the release of Google's and Samsung's revolutionary new product.

 

The dust will settle from Google's earnings release, as well as from the pending launches of Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system and a new "mini" iPad from Apple. When tech investors look back on October 2012 from five or 10 years in the future, what's likely to be best remembered is the introduction of a $249 laptop.


I have spent the last 22 months spending the majority of my working time on the predecessor devices to this Chromebook and I was able to spend a little bit of time with this latest version. I can say with confidence that it is the best value -- by a mile -- you can get for spending $249 on any kind of technology. You should order as many as you can, and make it the Christmas stocking present of choice, for as many people as you can afford.


At the time of publication, the author was long GOOG and AAPL, and short MSFT, AMZN and AMD.

 

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20Comments
Oct 20, 2012 11:07PM
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"The new Chromebook may be the first volume-manufactured laptop that doesn't have a fan, which it doesn't need because it's not needed. "

 

Wow, hard hitting journalism indeed. You see, the chromebook doesn't need a fan because it's not needed. Brilliant. So simple and so obvious. I can't believe I couldn't realize that myself.

Oct 21, 2012 12:34AM
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"a fan, which it doesn't need because it's not needed."

Wow! Deep logic.
Oct 21, 2012 7:10AM
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If the hardware is not locked down, then it might be a candidate for Open source Os to reside on. Hack it !
Oct 20, 2012 7:21PM
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For around the same price, you can get a real Windows laptop.   Check out a real, hands on review...

 

Straining to keep up


 My biggest complaint about the Samsung Chromebook is performance. In short, it struggles under a load, especially when there are many browser tabs open.

 

For example, text sometimes arrived sluggishly in a long Google Docs word-processing document, and paging up and down through even simple, moderately long documents could be excruciating. Another problem: a YouTube video playing a song in the background paused when I tabbed away to another task. Another video stuttered while I was scrolling in Google Docs.

 

 

 

Oct 21, 2012 4:57AM
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It has a 16GB HDD and an SD card slot to expand that storage. It also has a USB port where you can expand it further.

Most of the Google Chrome apps you can use offline now, and some of the third-party ones. Google is moving in that direction with this which is great.

But, do you really want to have to ALWAYS stay signed into Google, letting them track your surfing FOR AS LONG AS YOU OWN THE DEVICE? Even on an Android phone you don't have to do that! You can just sign out! You can use the Amazon app store or even root your Android device to get Google out of the picture altogether. Soon AMD will have an app store for Android.

So if you like privacy you will hate this device. If you like a GENERAL-PURPOSE computer you will hate this device. I haven't read a review yet that explains all the peripheral devices this thing can attach to. Obviously it has a USB port but can it use any USB device like a Windows or Apple computer, such as a printer? It could probably read digital cameras and digital video cameras as they should just show up as storage, but not much else. It does have an HDMI port so I assume you can attach it to a bigger monitor/HDTV, but will it let you use an external keyboard and trackpad or external speakers? What about connecting optical drives to the USB port?

For around $150 more than this you can get an Acer or other name brand Windows 7 laptop running a third generation Intel Core-i series CPU with a 500 GB HDD with 4GB of fast DDR3 RAM. The laptop will have a super-multi DVD player/burner, HDMI port, SD/MMC card slot, RJ-45 ethernet port, USB  3.0 ports, etc. If you get one with a decent multi-touch trackpad it will work great with Windows 8's Metro touch apps that are soon coming out.

To me it's a no-brainer, pay a little more to get a robust general-purpose computer that you can put any OS on that you want, YOU CONTROL YOUR PRIVACY, don't have to use Google if you don't want to, and YOU CAN HAVE CHROME IN ALL ITS SAME GLORY AS THIS MACHINE, just install the browser and click to create a new tab > check out the Chrome web store. Soon AMD with BlueStacks will have 500,000+ Android apps running on Windows, and very soon, so get a nice multitouch trackpad on that Windows laptop, or better yet wait a month for the touchscreen laptops to arrive which should start around $500. Your machine would have Windows, WIndows Metro, Android, Linux, Chrome, and you could even run Snow Leopard in a virtual machine.

Chrome books are for kids, the malware magnets, and old people who don't want to learn computers.

Oct 21, 2012 7:13AM
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This was the most amateurish article I've read in a while. I don't know where to begin. Maybe it was the "fan isn't needed because it is not needed" epiphany that first caught my eye. Or the fact that the specs of the computer are all wrong. 

No, it had to be the fact that the Chromebooks are lauded as 'revolutionizing' and 'history in the making' when they've already been on the market for a year and have sold like crap. 

I can't believe someone got paid to write this.
Oct 21, 2012 3:24AM
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"Superior to other laptops"... "history in the making"... 

Surely this must be satire..
Oct 21, 2012 3:22AM
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Chrome books have been out for quite a while now.  People are not interested in a laptop that is less capable than a modern phone.  
Oct 21, 2012 3:17AM
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what if you don't have internet connections?
Oct 21, 2012 2:54AM
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I just pre-ordered mine.  Free shipping.
Oct 22, 2012 2:03PM
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This authoer is long Google and trying to pimp a product that nobody wants.  The lightweight and no fan is good for a smartphone, but not a laptop. 
Oct 21, 2012 9:47PM
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WOW!  I am seeing a lot of criticism on this article.  Honestly, this article had me wanting to run to the store and buy it.  No, I wanted to buy several. However, as a smart consumer I always look for customer reviews.  So when I read all the comments below and the overwhelming concensus is that this article is seriouslly overated In addition to being so poorly written that a child could of wrote it, It makes you wonder what is really going on and I think I know.  May I bring your attention to this sentence of the article:

"Those of us who are Google shareholders sustained a temporary setback with Thursday's unfortunate earnings release, which sent shares plummeting as much as 11% and shaved about $22 billion in market value."

 

Wouldn't that make this article fraudulent or illegal?  Surely it cannot be ok to do this, knowing it is a lie for the sake of boosting profit to oneself?  Anyone?  Or am I seeing too much into this?  If it was mildly misleading it would be one thing, but the writer even encourages us to buy several and I bet as a stock holder he knows the reviews 

 

Oct 20, 2012 8:10PM
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"The Chromebook doesn't have a hard drive"

err, it does, it just has a very small iPod Nano-sized 16G one. Two seconds on Wikipedia dudes, that's all it takes.

Are they paying the authors with nuts? May as well..
Oct 21, 2012 7:36AM
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Wow, this may be the most overrated article I have ever read, it is as epic failure!  Chromebook... is not that great!  Its a Nexus 7 with an 11" screen and a keyboard.....  No hard drive, means no saving data locally....  
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