Samsung Launches New Chrome Machines

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Samsung has launched two new Chrome machines, including a faster laptop and desktop unit

Samsung has introduced a new Chromebook, dubbed the Samsung Series 5, as well as the Series 3 Chromebox – a compact, Mac mini-ish desktop for home or office.

Touted as “the always new computer,” these sorta-PCs have no operating system and no programs – and so no need for updates or virus-protection software or backups. They centre around Google’s Chrome browser, run applications and rely strenuously on the cloud.

New Chromebook

“This is the next step in our journey toward an always-new computing experience focused on speed, simplicity and security,” Google’s Caesar Sengupta, director of product management, said in a 29 May statement.

This next-generation of hardware delivers nearly three times the performance of Google’s first-generation Chromebooks, said Sengupta, adding, “With a new, app-centric user interface rolling out today and thousands of available Web apps, we couldn’t be more excited about this evolution.”

The Series 5 Chromebook measures less than an inch thick, weighs 3.3 pounds and features a full-size keyboard and a 12.1-inch display with a resolution of 1280 by 800.

It runs a 1.3GHz Intel Celeron 867 dual-core processor, offers a battery life up to 6 hours, has a 1-megapixel HD Webcam, Intel HD Graphics, 4GB of SO-DIMM (small outline dual in-line memory module) memory, a 16GB solid-state drive and lots of ports – 2 USB 2.0, a 4-in-1 memory card slot, a DP++ for HDMI and DVI, and ports for Gigabit Ethernet and headphones and microphones.

With Wi-Fi only, it will run you $450 (£288); with optional built-in 3G, the price hops up to $550 (£352). Go for the 3G option, however, and for two years Verizon Wireless will spring for up to 100MBs per month of Mobile Broadband service.

The Chromebox, which comes with 3G, measures 7.6 by 7.6 by 1.3 inches, weighs 2.45 pounds, runs a 1.9MHz Intel Celeron B840 dual-core processor, Intel HD Graphics 3000 and can be connected to two 30-inch displays.

There are 6 USB 2.0 ports, 2 DP++ display out ports that support HDMI and DVI for a resolution of 2560 by 1600, a headphone/microphone jack and a Gigabit Ethernet port. There’s 4GB of RAM, a 16GB SSD and a price tag of $330.

App Approach

Google, in a blog post, called the user interface “app-centric,” explaining that one can use apps alongside the browser or other apps. “You can pin commonly used apps for quick access, display multiple windows side-by-side or experience your favourite apps in full-screen mode without any distractions,” it added.

There are also hundreds of offline-capable Web apps in the Chrome Web store.

Plus, says Google, Microsoft Office documents can all be viewed, so there’s no need to install additional software; with the next release of Chrome, in six weeks’ time, Google Drive will be integrated with File Manager to support offline access ; and Google Docs offline support, arriving “over the next few weeks,” will let users “keep working on [documents] even when offline and seamlessly sync back up when you re-connect.”

Despite these still-to-arrive components, both the Series 5 Chromebook and Series 3 Chromebox will go on sale – at Amazon.com, Tiger.com, NewEgg.com, BestBuy.com and BHPhoto.com – 30 May.

Earlier this month, Chrome pulled ahead of Microsoft Internet Explorer to become the world’s most-used browser for a full week, according to data from StatCounter. The site called the growing trend in Chrome usage, which picks up on weekends when people have more browser free will, “undeniable.”

Samsung also had a big month – if not also a big day – beginning sales of its anxiously awaited Galaxy S III smartphone 29 May. Arousing the type of enthusiasm generally reserved for the Apple iPhone, the smartphone – which features Android 4.0, a quad-core processor, reportedly a great camera and one of the largest displays on the market – received more than 9 million preorders.

Reviews have been mixed, though largely positive.

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