If the rumor mill is to be believed, ASUS and Toshiba will now be jumping onto the Chromebook bandwagon, alongside Acer and Hewlett-Packard (HP). Digitimes reports that ASUS and Toshiba are in the works to release Chromebooks in the early part of next year. These Chromebooks will be powered by Intel's Haswell processors.
Chromebooks are highly polarizing devices in that they're neither full-fledged laptops nor do they provide the portability offered by tablet devices. A Chromebook is a personal computer, running Google's Chrome OS. The device is designed to have a minimalistic traditional footprint while staying constantly connected to the internet. While connected to the Internet, the user accesses web-applications on the cloud rather than installing the apps on the local device.
Google's Chrome OS, which powers Chromebooks, uses the Linus kernel, Google's Chrome browser and an integrated media player. Chromebooks are primarily designed to function online (or connected to the internet) and as a result offer limited offline capabilities. This results in lightning fast boot times – Google claims that a Chromebook would boot in 8 seconds flat (though a lot depends on the hardware as well). Unlike Microsoft Windows powered laptops, a Chromebook does not offer offline installation of traditional application; instead the user adds web applications from the Chrome Web Store. Google also claims that the Chrome OS is designed with a multi-layer security architecture, which eliminates the need for an antivirus program.
Chromebooks also support plug-and-play devices like webcams, mics, external keyboards and flash drives. The keyboard on these devices is also specialized and is designed to ease daily tasks of opening and managing multiple tabs as well has dedicated keys to initiate a web search. Chromebooks have primarily been used by Schools, though Google's marketing strategy is now also targeting first time computer owners and house-holds seeking an additional computer.
Acer, HP and also Google have ensured to keep the price range of these devices in the $200 to $350 range, which is well below what a standard laptop commands. A notable exception to this is Google's Chromebook Pixel which is priced at an exorbitant $1299. Unsurprisingly, as recently revealed by ASUS CEO Jerry Shen, the first wave of models from ASUS will introduce an 11.6 inch and a 13.3 inch variant. The devices are likely to be priced between US $199 – $329.