October 21, 2012, 7:24 AM — How much would you pay for a cloud-centric computer? With its new $249 Samsung Chromebook -- a system based on the idea of doing almost everything online -- Google is hoping it's finally gotten the price right.
The new Samsung Chromebook runs Google's Chrome OS operating system. Chrome OS is all about the cloud: Instead of using locally stored programs, it relies on Web-based apps like Gmail, Google Docs and Google Drive. You can do quite a bit offline -- an important option that was missing in early versions of the software -- but the Web is definitely the platform's main focus.
Value seems to be the distinguishing feature of the new Samsung Chromebook, which is available for pre-order now and will ship next week from Amazon, Best Buy and Google's own Play Store. At $249, the new Chromebook is a full $200 cheaper than the higher-end Samsung Chromebook 550 introduced earlier this year. It's also a $100 cheaper than the first-generation Series 5 model that was released in mid-2011. (That device was removed from Google's official Chromebook site today, leading me to believe that this new model will effectively replace it as the lower-end option.)
So what's the new Samsung Chromebook actually like to use? I've spent some time getting to know the device. Here are my impressions.
Thin, light and sleek
Make no mistake about it: This is an attractive computer. It's 0.8-in. thick and weighs 2.5 lb., making it quite practical to carry around. The Chromebook has a silver-colored plastic design with "Samsung" and a Google Chrome logo printed on its front; the general appearance is in line with the higher-end 550 Chromebook device, not the lower-end Series 5 model from last year.