Specs of Samsung's Chromebook
Samsung published few specs of its Series 5 Chromebook, a
device Google said it will provide free in June to an estimated 5,000 attendees
of Google I/O where it was launched. More details of the bill of materials of the
Samsung system came out at a press event after Google I/O.
The Samsung Series 5 packs an Intel Atom N570 1.66 GHz
processor (aka Pine Trail) with Intel embedded graphics. For communications, it
uses an Atheros 2x2 MIMO 802.11n Wi-Fi chip and a Qualcomm Gobi 3G modem in the
US or a Samsung 3G module in Europe.
Most of the other major components are all from Samsung.
They include a 12.1-inch display, 2 Gbytes RAM, a 16 Gbyte flash drive and an
eight-hour Samsung battery. Samsung designed the motherboard and makes it in a
Shuzhou, China plant.
The system also sports two USB ports, a high def Webcam, support
for removable flash cards and a full-sized keyboard. A version with Wi-Fi only
will cost $429 in the U.S., and one also with 3G will cost $499.
Acer will ship a smaller system with a 6.5-hour battery life,
an 11.6 inch display and 16 Gbytes flash starting at $349 for a Wi-Fi only
version. A 3G version is expected to cost $429. Both company's systems will be
available in June in the U.S. and Europe.
Samsung and Acer are expected to host their own product
introductions closer to the product roll outs. More details of their specs, such as use of flash, are expected then. The initial systems are uninteresting from an industrial design perspective, looking like generic notebooks.
Google has conducted tests of an early version of the system,
the Cr-48, with thousands of users worldwide. "We fixed some issues, revamped
the track pad, worked with Adobe on flash and upgraded to a dual-core processor,"
The company has also enabled a wide range of programs—including
Gmail and Google Docs--to work when the system is not connected to the Web.
Many non-Google apps also work using local cache memory including Angry Birds
and many news services.
Chromebooks also support an API that lets Web services
register as file handlers. Thus, for example, when a user plugs in a USB drive
with pictures, the folder showing the pictures can also show a button linking
to the user's online photo site.
"We're trying to open up your files to the world of the
Web," said Pichai.
Chromebooks aim to end management issues related to full
blown operating systems, BIOS, antivirus software and the regular upgrades they
require. "Most companies spend $3,000 to $5,000 per computer per year--it's
really complicated," he said.
Several large companies are already piloting Chromebooks.
Google's service will come with a unified Web management console IT managers
can use to manage Chromebooks. The Google three-year contracts will even
include support, warranty and hardware replacement services.
Brin said he is delighted both Android tablets and
Chromebooks could compete in similar markets.
"It’s a great dilemma to have two fantastic successes
on our hands," Brin said. "Chromebooks is venturing into a really new
model of computing that I don’t think was possible even a few years ago,"
"I use an Android smartphone, a tablet and a
Chromebook--they will coexist," said Pichai. "The Chromebook is a
very different model, and if we didn’t do a model like this someone else
would," he said.