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Chrome OS-powered 'Chromebooks' introduced by Google

Chrome OS laptops by Acer and Samsung will hit shelves next month, Google says.

By Matthew Shaer / May 13, 2011

Chrome OS will power two forthcoming 'Chromebooks,' one built by Acer and the other by Samsung.

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Two long years after the introduction of the Chrome OS, Google has rolled out a pair of Chrome-powered laptops –– one built by Samsung, the other built by Acer, and both equipped with 3G capability. The "Chromebooks," as the machines have been unofficially been dubbed by Google, were unveiled at the Google I/O conference this week, and are expected to hit shelves by the middle of next month.

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Some details: The Acer Chromebook gets a 12.1-inch screen, 8.5 hours of battery life, and a base price of $429. The Samsung edition will be priced at $349, and include an 11.6-inch screen, with six hours of battery life. (Hat tip to Computerworld.) There are no hard drives to be found on either machine; instead, the Chromebook line runs on flash memory. In short, "these are not typical notebooks," Google exec Linus Upson wrote on the Google blog.

"With a Chromebook you won’t wait minutes for your computer to boot and browser to start," Upson continued. "You’ll be reading your email in seconds. Thanks to automatic updates the software on your Chromebook will get faster over time. Your apps, games, photos, music, movies and documents will be accessible wherever you are and you won't need to worry about losing your computer or forgetting to back up files." (Video below.)

All of which is well in good. But as Michael Liedtke notes over at BusinessWeek, in the two long years since Google unveiled the Chrome OS –– an eternity in tech biz time –– tablets such as the iPad "have become hot sellers. The growing popularity of tablets has raised questions about how interested consumers will be interested in buying Google-powered laptops specifically tailored for Web surfing."

It has been a very good year for tablet makers and the tablet consumers who love them. A new Nielsen survey shows that Americans who own both tablets and laptops –– or tablets and e-readers –– often favor the tablet over the other gadgets in the household. And make no mistake about it: The Chrome OS-powered Chromebooks do occupy much of the same market place as a tablet, both in terms of price, speed, and functionality.

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