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Posted at 03:20 PM ET, 06/15/2011

Chromebooks go on sale


The Google Inc. Chromebook will be available online June 15 in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Spain. (By David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)
Those eager to get their hands on Google’s stripped-down laptop, the Chromebook, can order the computers from BestBuy.com and Amazon starting Wednesday.

As a refresher, the Chromebook is Google’s answer to the laptop. The device is more or less a portal for the Web and has no programs and no desktop. It relies completely on the Web for all functions.

The devices are priced from $349.99 to $499.99.

The Acer WiFi model has been delayed. According to Computerworld, it will retail for $349.99, not the $379.99 currently listed on Amazon.

The Samsung Chromebook is 12.1 inches and $429 for the WiFi version and $499 for the 3G model. The 11.6-inch Acer WiFi model has been delayed. According to Computerworld, it will retail for $349.99, not the $379.99 listed on Amazon.

Both have webcams and two USB ports; the Acer is also supposed to have an HDMI port.

The devices don’t require a data plan. Schools and businesses can order Chromebooks at a special rate: Chromebooks for Education cost $20 a month; businesses pay $28 a month. That puts Google in a good position to market to students and business travelers, two key markets for tablets.

Early reviews of the Chromebook have been good but not fantastic.

Mashable’s Charlie White said the Samsung version lacks really good graphics and is, of course, limited by the fact that it doesn’t work where there is no Internet connection.

Over at This is my next, reviewer Joanna Stern said that the keyboard layout could be confusing for some at first, but that it’s easy for users to adjust. She also addressed a much-trumpeted change to the keyboard — the fact that it has no caps lock — saying it is not as drastic as it may seem. Users can enable the feature in the settings.

As for the Chrome OS, the defining feature of the device, Stern said that the functionality isn’t “fully baked” yet. The lack of a central control panel was particularly jarring for her.

ZDNet’s Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols said that the Chromebook is a good alternative for a tablet, particularly because of its keyboard, but no replacement for a work desktop. All in all, the Chromebook seems to do what it does well, but isn’t quite enough to be someone’s only device.

Related stories:

Google I/O: Chromebooks starting at $20/month

Is Google competing against itself with the Chromebook?

PHOTOS: Top consumer gadgets

By  |  03:20 PM ET, 06/15/2011

Tags:  Google, Gadgets

 
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