Intel, Google Team Up on Improved Chromebooks

Intel, Google, and several hardware partners have announced a new line of Chromebooks powered by Intel’s ultra-low-voltage Celeron “Bay Trail-M” system-on-chip (SoC). New models will come from companies such as new models from Acer, Asus, Lenovo, and Toshiba.

Lenovo, a Chinese technology company, is trying to break into the American technological Chromebook market, writes Neil McAllister for The Register.  It had previously focused on education. The company will offer a normal notebook Chromebook and the other will be a touchscreen and have an optional “stand mode.”

Asus and Acer are looking to get in on the Chromebook action, too. Asus has unveiled its idea to come out with new Chromebook models with 11.3-inch and 13.3-inch screens. Acer will upgrade its current models to use the Bay Trail-M SoC.

Exact specs and prices were not given at the press release, but it is rumored that the prices will be comparable to current and earlier models. They’ll also be competing with higher-performance models based on Chipzilla’s new fourth-generation Core i3 processors.

At first, the devices will be available from Acer and Dell. They have been described by Intel as  “a new class of Chromebook.” They will be priced at a minimum of $349 and  the Celeron versions will likely be even cheaper, reports Nathan Ingraham for The Verge.

At the press release, Intel also unveiled its new Chromebook for education. Intel is making plans to offer this model to “a variety of customers”  as a way to open up an avenue for starting their own education-oriented Chrome OS devices, says McAllister.  By the end of the year, Intel plans to have twenty different Chrome OS models.

How does Google fit into all of this? Full Google Now compatibility is on its way to Chrome.  Google says it’ll have easier voice activation features soon. It has been integrated into notifications across Windows and OS X as well as in Chrome.  The new app will soon be downloadable for Chrome  and will support offline viewing. This will make it so consumers can view movies while flying across the nation, write Ina Fried and Bonnie Cha for website Recode.

No release dates have been announced for the new Chrome devices and many consumers wonder if they will have to choose yet again between battery life and speed. Normally, the faster a computer runs, the faster it drains the battery.  Ingraham writes:

Samsung’s new Chromebook may run the less powerful Exynos processor, but it also features a 13-inch, 1080p screen — it seems that Chrome consumers will still need to choose between power and a quality screen for the time being. As always, Intel, Google, and its OEM partners said they’ll continue to innovate on the hardware front, even though these Chromebooks are pretty similar design-wise to earlier models. “As users do more with Chrome, they’ll expect more from the hardware that surrounds it,” said Google VP Caesar Sengupta.