Google’s browser-in-a-box just got a bit more appealing. The company announced a holiday surprise Monday, saying that it has dropped the price of its Chromebook laptop computer to $299.

The search giant announced the price cut as part of a more comprehensive announcement about a Chromebook makeover, which aims to streamline the log-in process and make it easier to manage apps, bookmarks and favorite Web sites.

The biggest news, however, is the price cut, which shaves a hefty chunk off the Samsung Chromebook’s original $429 and Acer Chromebook’s original $349 price tags.

The price drop is likely to pull the Chromebook onto at least a few more holiday wish lists, which could jump-start the laptop-tablet hybrid. For those not familiar with the device, it’s essentially a Web portal with a screen and keyboard. There is no operating system, per se, just the Chrome OS that runs the Chrome browser and gives users access to their Google documents, music and other files. Almost all capabilities require an Internet connection; the Chromebook supports WiFi and 3G.

The Chromebook is still hampered by extremely limited offline capabilities but is cheaper than some of the top tablets on the market. That could lure customers who are thinking about buying a tablet but are reluctant to give up their keyboards.

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