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Chrome OS notebooks are also really cheap: The Chromebook 11 costs just $279.
That price is in line with most other Chromebooks, including a $249 model from Samsung and a $199 model from Acer. But the new Chromebook has many high-end features inspired by a much pricier model, the $1,299 Chromebook Pixel designed and made by Google through contract factories in Asia.
The new Chromebook's speakers are underneath the keyboard, so sound projects out at you. Its outer shell is sleek and smooth. It doesn't have the Pixel's metal exterior, but there's magnesium underneath the plastic to keep the laptop sturdy. The Chromebook 11 has no sharp edges or corners -- or even screw holes. There's no fan either, which keeps the device quiet and light -- at just 2.3 pounds.
In fact, the Chromebook 11 isn't much heavier than Microsoft's upcoming Surface Pro 2 tablet, which weighs 2 pounds. The Chromebook's 11.6-inch screen, measured diagonally, isn't much larger than the screen of the typical full-size tablet. The new Chromebook even uses the same Micro-USB charger that non-Apple tablets and smartphones use. No longer do you have to keep track of which charger goes with which device or pack an extra charger for a vacation.
The Chromebook 11 could pass for a tablet if it weren't for the fact that it unfolds to reveal a physical keyboard. It also lacks a touch screen. You move the cursor on the screen the traditional way, using the laptop's touchpad .
The new Chromebook has a low-resolution camera for videoconferencing, and it promises battery life of up to six hours. There are some perks, too: 100 gigabytes of storage through Google Drive for two years, rather than the standard 15 gigabytes, and 12 free sessions of Wi-Fi access on airplanes through Gogo.
There's a lot to like with the Chromebook 11.
But just like tablets, Chromebooks aren't ready to replace traditional Windows and Mac computers. Even if most of your life is online, there'll be the occasional program that will run only on a Windows or Mac machine. Photo editing is one task that comes to mind. Internet-based editing tools on the Chromebook and elsewhere aren't as sophisticated as stand-alone programs such as Photoshop, Google's Picasa and Apple's iPhoto. (continued...)
© 2013 Associated Press/AP Online under contract with YellowBrix. All rights reserved.
Posted: 2013-11-09 @ 9:13am PT
I have both an iPad mini and a Samsung Chromebook. For me the Chromebook functions about the same as a large Android tablet with a decent keyboard.
When I want convenience and portability, I carry the iPad. When I need to do a lot of typing or want to watch Netflix on a larger screen, I fire up my Chromebook.