They've now been announced and they have a date and a price: the first production-versions of Google's Chrome OS-powered Chromebooks are coming as soon as mid-June, from Samsung and Acer. The announcement was on Google's blog, but also at the Google I/O conference running this week and via press releases from Samsung and Google.
The Chromebooks will be available for order on June 15 in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Spain. More countries will follow. You'll even be able to order them online at Amazon.com, if you so choose, and Best Buy will also be selling them.
The Acer Chromebook will have the following specs:
Intel Atom Dual-Core Processor
11.6-inch HD Widescreen CineCrystal LED-backlit LCD
6 hours of continuous usage
Built in dual-band wi-fi and World-mode 3G (optional)
HD Webcam with noise cancelling microphone
High-Definition Audio Support
2 USB 2.0 ports
4-in-1 memory card slot
Fullsize Chrome keyboard
Oversize fully-clickable trackpad
$349 to start
The Samsung Chromebook, dubbed the Samsung Series 5, was also announced. Here are its specs:
Intel ATOM Processor N570 1.66Ghz (Samsung's original press release said it was a Core 2 Duo CPU, which was incorrect
12.1-inch 1280 x 800 SuperBright Display, 36 percent brighter than a standard display, 16:10 resolution
Up to 8.5 hours battery life
wi-fi (802.11b/g/n), optional 3G
Starts up in less than 10-seconds
Resumes instantly from standby
HD Webcam, built-in digital microphone and stereo speakers
Two USB ports capable of charging mobile phones and accessories, connecting digital cameras and media storage devices
Full-size Chrome keyboard
Oversized multi-touch trackpad
wi-fi only model will retail at $429.99, wi-fi + 3G: $499.99
In addition, and as expected, Google announced Chromebooks for Business and Education. For a relatively small monthly fee, users get Chromebooks and a cloud management console which enables them to remotely administer and manage users, devices, applications and policies.
Also included is enterprise-level support will be provided, as well as device warranties and replacements as well as regular hardware refreshes (though it is unclear what that means). Monthly subscriptions to Chromebooks for Business and Education will start at $28 per user for businesses and $20 per user for schools.
Acer left, Samsung right
These are subscriptions, though, so what does that mean? It means you're tied into a contract. Think of it as a subsidized smartphone, and you'll get the idea. In order to get these deals, customers will be linked to a three-year contract. 36 months x $20 for educational use means $720. For business use, that's $1,008.
Granted, you're getting a hardware refresh at the end of the cycle, and the cloud management console. Does that justify the pricing and the term? Google had reportedly considered a shorter term with a higher monthly fee, but after market research Google found that most institutions never upgraded their machines before three years, anyway.
Finally, offline versions of Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs will be made available for Chromebook users this summer.
You can see a video on Google's Chromebooks, below.