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May 6, 2014

Google aims for the mainstream with 20 new, more powerful Chromebooks

by John_A

If you haven’t picked up a Chromebook just yet, you might want to wait a little longer. Intel has just announced that it plans to roll out as many as 20 new Chromebooks by the latter half of this year. This new set will be thinner, lighter, more powerful and generally more diverse in terms of design. It’s clear that Google is making a play for the mainstream.

Most of these will be based on Intel’s more powerful and efficient Bay Trail-M system on a chip.

“Bay Trail is optimized for power, performance and cost,” Intel’s VP and general manager, Navin Shenoy, said. “The first Chromebooks are also now available with over 11 hours of battery life, which is up from about 10 hours on Haswell.”

They’re also the first ever Chrome devices to be fanless, he said, and will be 15% lighter. Also expect a lot more different Chromebook designs and form factors. There’ll be some models with touchscreens, and some, like the Yoga, will have a folding display. In addition to just Chromebooks, Intel also introduced a tiny HP Chromebox that you’ll be able to hook up to any display and announced the availability of LG’s all-in-one Chromebase. Last but not least, Shenoy also announced that all of the Chrome devices released today will be made with the world’s first “conflict-free” microprocessors, that were not mined by slave regimes in the Republic of Congo.

At least a couple of them will be based on the company’s Core i3 processor, including an Acer version that’ll be available for $349 this summer and an updated version of Dell’s 11-inch model that should ship later in 2014. In addition, Intel is partnering with at least four major manufacturers — Acer, ASUS, Lenovo and Toshiba — to produce Bay Trail-powered devices. Lenovo has announced two of these last night: the N20 and N20p. Not to be left out, ASUS also rolled out a couple of new offerings. They include an 11.6-inch C200 and a 13.3-inch C300, both of which will begin shipping this summer.

Caesar Sengupta, VP of product management at Google, took to the stage to say that sales numbers for the Chrome devices have been great. “Chromebox is the number one selling desktop,” he said, “And the top six rated laptops on Amazon are all Chromebooks. They’re both the highest rated and the most affordable.” He also pointed out that eight of the top computer manufacturers offer Chromebooks, and that Chrome devices are available in over 20 countries and nearly 10,000 schools, with more coming in the future. Shenoy also showed off an education Chromebook reference design that he hopes will inform the next generation of Chromebooks for schools. In addition, Sengupta told us that not only are Google Now and voice commands coming to Chromebooks, but also Play movies will be available to view offline as well. “The momentum is solid and gathering pace,” he said.

Filed under: Google

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