Google and Hewlett-Packard have unveiled the latest Chrome OS device, the HP Chromebook 11, an ultra-thin Chrome-powered tablet that weighs about 2.3 pounds and includes a micro-USB charger that can also recharge a user's Android phone or tablet.
The release of the new device, which is priced at $279 and available for purchase starting immediately, was announced by Caesar Sengupta, vice president of product management for Chrome, in an Oct. 8 post on the Google Chrome Blog.
"Earlier today, HP introduced the HP Chromebook 11," wrote Sengupta. "Designed and built in partnership with our friends at HP, it has all of the speed, simplicity and security benefits you'd expect from a Chromebook, and some unique design elements that address many of the challenges people face with computers today."
The HP Chromebook 11 features an 11.6-inch IPS screen with a 176-degree wide viewing angle, a magnesium frame for strength, a quiet fanless chassis, an Exynos 5250 GAIA ARM processor, 2GB of DDR RAM, a 16GB solid-state hard drive, WiFi, speakers mounted under the keyboard and about six hours of battery life on a full charge.
The new machine, which comes in a variety of colors, also features soft edges "so nothing digs into your wrists while you type," wrote Sengupta. A wide variety of Google apps are built-in, including 100GB of free Google Drive cloud storage for two years and a 60-day free trial of Google Play Music All Access.
The HP 11 is being sold through Best Buy, Amazon, Google Play and HP Shopping in the United States, and through Currys, PC World and many other retailers in the U.K., according to the company. Other nations around the world will get the devices for sale before the holidays.
The new Chromebook is being sold in white with blue, red, yellow or green color accents or a more traditional black design, according to a related post by HP. Also included is a light bar on the lid. An LTE version of the HP Chromebook 11 is expected to be available later this year, according to HP.
In June, Google expanded its network of dealers for its Chromebooks by beginning to sell them through Walmart and Staples stores, raising the number of outlets for the devices to some 6,600 stores. The move added Walmart and Staples stores to the existing Chromebook retail outlets through Best Buy and Amazon.com. Consumers are also able to purchase the machines via Staples online, while business users will be able to buy them through the Staples Advantage B2B program. Additional retailers are also expected to be unveiled in the coming months, including select Office Depot, OfficeMax, Fry's and TigerDirect stores.
Similar expansions are also happening in the 10 other markets worldwide where Chromebooks are sold, including 116 Tesco stores in the United Kingdom and Mediamarket and Saturn stores in the Netherlands, FNAC stores in France and Elgiganten stores in Sweden. In Australia, JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman stores will soon be carrying Chromebooks as well.
Chromebooks and their desktop brethren Chromeboxes run Google's Chrome operating system and feature a wide range of preinstalled, cloud-based Google services and products, including Google Docs and Google Calendar. Chromebooks allow users to do their work online with less need for on-machine storage for large applications and files.
One shortcoming is that users need good connectivity to use their machines, and offline work can be a challenge, according to critics and reviewers. At the same time, the machines can be inexpensive and well-featured devices that allow users to accomplish a wide range of tasks without the bloat and mass of a traditional laptop or notebook machine.
Back in March, Google had unveiled an earlier expansion of Chromebook sales to six more nations and to additional Best Buy stores in the United States. At that time, the smaller, lighter and inexpensive Internet-centric computers were being rolled out by Acer, HP and Samsung in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands.
In May, Google began testing Chromebook-equipped store kiosks to make it easier for businesses to help their customers and employees check merchandise stock, place orders or get more information while shopping or working. The kiosks use something Google calls "Managed Public Sessions" to allow employee and customer use of the devices without the need for logging in.