New Chromebooks will sport faster Intel-based processor, begin to hit shelves for back-to-school season

A new round of Chromebooks are rolling out from Asus, Lenovo, Acer, HP, and Toshiba. Revealed at a Chrome OS press conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Google is moving to release the Chromebook laptops to meet the rising demands, with the help of Intel. Dell will also be updating their existing Chrome-powered hardware with a faster processor. We can expect to see at least 20 new Chromebooks by the end of the year.

Intel processors will power the new Chromebooks. Some of the models will include Intel’s Celeron processor based on the Bay Trail-M chip, which will provide the Chromebooks with more power and an extra hour of battery life. Intel will also be using manufacturer CTL to release their Chromebook design later in the year. New models sporting the upgraded tech will also be lighter and thinner. They’ll also include Google Now, which will play TV shows and movies offline.

Lenovo will be the first to release their new Chromebooks, the N20 ($279) and the N20p ($329), which will be expected in July and August, respectively. Asus will be releasing their C200 and C300 Chromebooks in time for school in fall, and the Acer C720 Chromebook ($349) will also become available early in the season, capitalizing on students looking to get an affordable laptop.

Lenovo-N20-new-chromebook

Google plans to also update some current market Chromebooks, replacing Intel’s Celeron processor with the more powerful Core i3. We can expect these to start appearing on shelves as early as this summer.

Absent from the event, Samsung still has the bestselling Chromebook model, which runs its own ARM-based Exynos processor.

According to stats from NPD, Chromebooks made up 24% of under-$300 PCs sold in the US in the first part of 2014. Reports say that many consumers purchased Chromebooks with the intent of using them as secondary computing devices. Meanwhile, Chromebooks have gained popularity with schools, acting as good, inexpensive replacements for the now-unsupported Windows XP.

Last year, 2.9 million Chromebooks were shipped, compared to the 280 million Windows machines, the highest in the market, but Chromebook shipments are expected to rise, beating Apple for second place by 2016.

However, competition is expected to heat up as other companies prepare to compete with the increasing Chromebook sales, but Google executive Caesar Sengupta said at the launch event that the Chromebooks are among the top selling laptops on Amazon, and nearly 10,000 schools are using the Chrome-operated computers, which has doubled in the last six months.

Why are these affordable laptops becoming so well received? Unlike Microsoft, Google doesn’t charge manufacturers to use Chrome OS, bringing the costs down, and many of the tools are web-based, rather than hard drive-based.

There are limitations though. The Chrome OS has limited functionality when performing tasks offline. The hard drives on Chromebooks are also fairly small, limiting the local storage. While this does help with the cost, the local, offline capabilities still fail to compare to Windows and Apple’s offerings.

We will likely hear more about the new Chromebooks at the Computex trade show next month.

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