After a short high-end-focused hiatus, the search giant has circled back to doing what it does best, namely pushing PC prices to new and previously inconceivable lows.
Microsoft was reported to work on a counter-offensive effort to Google’s then unannounced $149 Chromebook charge less than 24 hours ago, and if that all felt a little rushed, we’re now getting to find out why.
You better be afraid, Redmond, and speed up ultra-low-cost Windows 10 computer development, as the Haier Chromebook 11 and Hisense Chromebook 11 are up for pre-orders already stateside via Amazon and Walmart respectively.
Slated to ship in a few short weeks, the two undercut the MSRPs of every Chrome OS laptop before them by at least $50. That’s right, they’re $149 a pop, and all Google had to do to minimize production expenses was recruit two little known OEMs on the Western hemisphere, and ditch brand-name Intel or Nvidia Tegra CPUs for a 1.8 GHz quad-core Rockchip RK3288.
This is ARM-based, of course, and it’s probably better suited for tablets, but it helps with battery life and it’s likely enough for standard, mundane Chrome OS activities. Paired with 2 GB RAM, the frugal processor pushes humdrum HD 11.6-inch screens, relying on a 16 GB flash drive and free included Google cloud space for digital hoarding purposes.
Meanwhile, at $20 extra, you’ll soon be able to score all that, plus the reliability guarantee of the Asus brand. Their C201 isn’t fully detailed yet, but it should match the specs of the Haier and Hisense at $170, as well as somehow up the autonomy ante to a whopping 13 hours.
Looking higher on the Chrome OS food chain, you’ll find the most versatile member of the family to date, fittingly dubbed Asus Chromebook Flip. Capable of “flipping” back and forth for netbook and tablet use, this is extremely compact and slender, at 10.1 inches, around 2 pounds and 0.6 inches thick.
The entry-level 2 GB/16 GB configuration should cost a palatable $249 “later this spring”, whereas twice the RAM and storage will only require 30 bucks more.
Last but not least, Google is also flashing Chrome OS into the tiniest package possible to better compete against Windows mini-PCs and PCs-on-a-stick. The Asus Chromebit is a “full computer” the size of a USB drive, and will go for “less than $100” (read $99) in the near future. Talk about lineup diversification.