Google is introducing a new $279 laptop based on its internet-centric Chrome operating system, borrowing many of the high-end features found in a model that costs about $1,000 more.
Hewlett-Packard is making the new HP Chromebook 11. Although the price is in line with most other Chromebooks using Chrome OS, the new model sports many design features that are usually found on pricier devices, including the $1,299 Chromebook Pixel.
Unlike Windows and Mac laptops, Chromebooks rely heavily on having a continuous internet connection to run Gmail, Google Docs and other online services. Many apps don’t run directly on the device but over the internet. The devices also have relatively little storage, as documents, photos and other files are supposed to be stored online instead.
The new laptop has a plastic frame with no sharp edges or corners, or even screw holes. Speakers are tucked under the keyboard so that sound comes out toward the user, even when the laptop is used on the lap. Devices with speakers on the back or the bottom don’t do that.
The Chromebook 11 has a display that measures 11.6 inches diagonally, and it weighs about 2 pounds.
Caesar Sengupta, vice president of product management for Chromebooks, said HP approached Google after seeing the Pixel, which Google designed and made on its own using an unnamed contract manufacturer.
He said Google and HP had to make a few trade-offs to keep the price low. The Chromebook 11 doesn’t have a touch screen, and the display’s resolution isn’t as sharp as the Pixel’s. The Pixel also uses a plastic frame rather than metal, but there’s magnesium underneath to keep the laptop sturdy.
And in recognition of the growing use of phones and tablet computers, the Chromebook 11 uses the same microUSB charger common in those mobile devices. Other laptops typically come with their own charger, which Sengupta described as yet another item that needs to be packed for weekend trips.
The Chromebook 11 is available starting Tuesday at Google’s only Play store and selected retailers. The laptop comes in white or black. The white model has a choice of four accents around the keyboard and under the device: blue, red, yellow and green.