The Chromebook population has grown by two. On Tuesday, Lenovo announced it is releasing two new models, its first consumer Chromebooks.
The models, the N20 and N20p Chromebooks, have starting prices of $279 and $329, respectively. The N20 is designed as a traditional laptop, and the N20p has a keyboard that moves 300 degrees backward, enabling the device to convert from a laptop mode to a stand mode. The N20 is expected to be available in July, and the N20p in August.
In stand mode, videos can be watched up close, and a user can employ both hands to interact with the touchscreen in its upright position. However, the model does not fold all the way back to create a tablet, as Lenovo's education-focused Yoga 11e Chromebook does.
'Fast, Secure and Incredibly Simple'
The two new computers weigh under 3 pounds, and offer an 11.6-inch, 1366x768 HD screen, a full-size keyboard, a large trackpad, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, up to 16 GB internal storage and up to 100 GB of free storage on Google Drive. Each uses an Intel Celeron processor with integrated graphics, and battery life is expected to last up to eight hours.
Dilip Bhatia, vice president for worldwide marketing and design in the PC Group at Lenovo, said in a statement that, "equipped with thousands of apps, the N20 and N20p Chromebooks are also fast, secure and incredibly simple for anyone to manage."
Lenovo also offers the ThinkPad 11e Chromebook and the ThinkPad Yoga 11e Chromebook, which are targeted for the education market.
The cloud-based Chromebooks, first shown as prototypes in late 2010, have found traction in institutions, like schools and enterprises, where their thin-client approach to computing makes IT's life much easier. Apps are kept updated in the cloud and data is stored in the cloud, so maintenance is minimal. Any user can use any machine, there's instant boot-up, and the security issues are intended to be simpler than standard laptops. A key question is whether the consumer market will take a fancy to the platform, as some large organizations have.
Other Chromebook News
In addition to Lenovo, there's a fair amount of other Chromebook news. Google and Intel announced at a press conference in San Francisco a new line of Chromebook PCs using Intel's low-power Bay Trail processor.
The models, which are said to have up to 11 hours of battery life, are being released by Acer, Asus and Toshiba, in addition to Lenovo. Intel described the ones from Acer and Dell in particular as being "a new class" of Chromebooks because they are more powerful and up to three or four times faster, with prices starting at $349.
In June, Hewlett-Packard will be releasing a Chromebox, which is a Chrome PC sans screen or keyboard, and the LG all-in-one Chromebase will be launched in the U.S. later in May, for $349.
Dell said on Tuesday that, based on a third-party report commissioned by itself and Dell, its Chromebook 11 empowers digital learning because of the long battery life.