San Francisco — Intel used a press conference here Tuesday to unveil a host of advances in processors and finished products revolving around Google’s Chrome OS.
Navin Shenoy, Intel mobile computing group VP and general manager; Caesar Sengupta, Google’s product management VP; and invited representatives from manufacturer partners including Acer, Lenovo and Dell showcased a range of Chromebook devices using some of Intel’s more advanced processor offerings.
Acer and Dell are offering the first Core i3-based Chromebooks, while Acer, Asus, Lenovo and Dell will soon offer the first models using Intel’s Bay Trail processor architecture.
Google’s Sengupta underscored the more consumer-friendly nature of recent Chromebook development by revealing that pending upgrades to Chrome will allow movies and TV shows to be viewed offline. Also planned is a Google Now concierge service and voice actions that have previously only been available on Android smartphones and tablets.
This go-round, the PC makers are also pushing more consumer-centric Chromebook development by introducing the first Chromebooks running on Intel Celeron processors based on the Bay Trail-M system-on-a-chip platform.
The Bay Trail-M SoC offers fanless operation with up to 11 hours of battery life, and it has a thinner and lighter build; it will support touch-enabled screens and 802.11ac wireless connectivity.
Acer and Dell also announced higher-end Chromebook versions based on the more powerful fourth-generation Intel Core i3 processor. Acer recently announced the C720 Core i3-based Chromebook at its own global press event, but Intel was allowed to formally announce the product’s back-to-school release schedule and $349 suggested retail. Dell will soon offer its similarly configured Chromebook 11.
Intel also said it is collaborating with Google to release one the first devices based on a new 64-bit Chrome OS.
Intel said the field of Chromebook devices is slated to grow from just four last September to at least 20 models by the end of the year. The following is a glance at some more recent Chrome-based product announcements:
Asus will offer an 11.6-inch C200 and 13.3-inch C300 this summer, joining its Chromebox device, billed by Intel as the most popular desktop on Amazon.com.
Dell is offering an 11-inch Chromebook starting at a $299 suggested retail for an Intel Haswell processor.
HP recently introduced a 14-inch Chromebook at a $299 suggested retail and has been working with Google on a new Chromebox that will launch in the United States in June. The device will be offered in three color options, and will be based on Intel Celeron and Haswell architectures. The HP Chromebox will essentially be able to turn any screen into a Google Chrome-based PC.
Lenovo earlier in the day announced it is adding a pair of consumer-focused Chromebooks with two different usage configuration approaches. The N20 and N20p are 11.6-inch laptops with quad-core Intel Celeron processors, eight-hour battery lives, two USB ports, up to 4GB of RAM,and 16GB of local storage. The N20 is a classic laptop, and the N20p adds a touchscreen that folds back 300 degrees. The company will also offer a touchscreen Thinkpad Yoga 11e that has a hinge for tablet or tent-style stand positioning.
LG’s new Chromebase device is an Intel Celeron processor-enabled all-in-one PC based on the Chrome OS. Slated to ship this month at a $349 suggested retail, the device offers the convenience of Cloud computing, tens of thousands of apps from the Chrome Web Store and a 21.5-inch FullHD widescreen display.
The LG Chromebase (model 22CV241), positioned as a desktop PC replacement, will be available at Amazon, Newegg, Fry’s Electronics, Micro Center and Tiger Direct beginning May 26. (Online presale orders are also being taken by Newegg.com beginning May 12.) It will come bundled with two years of 100GB Google Drive storage.
The Chromebase includes a fourth-generation Intel processor based on the Haswell microarchitecture, a 1.3-megapixel webcam, a microphone, a keyboard and a mouse. The Chromebase act as a monitor for a laptop connected through the HDMI port, or for such other devices as the Chromecast smart-TV dongle.
The Chromebase platform offers access such Google properties as Gmail, Drive, Search, Maps, YouTube, Google Play, Google+ and Hangouts, and it also works with tens of thousands of apps in the Chrome Web Store. Google Docs, Sheets and Slides are built in, and users can open, edit and share Microsoft Word and Excel files using the free, built-in editor.
For added security, all content (including family photos and videos) is stored in the Cloud, making them accessible from other Internet-connected devices.
Toshiba has promised a new 13-inch Chromebook.