After announcing two new versions of Android and new music and movie services on Tuesday, today Google turned its attention to its other mobile operating system -- you know, that little thing called Chrome OS.
Google officially unveiled the first commercial Chrome OS notebooks during its I/O keynote Wednesday morning. The notebooks follow the launch of the Cr-48, the Chrome OS test device Google sent out to users across the country last December.
Starting June 15, the two new Chrome OS notebooks -- "Chromebooks," as they'll be called -- will go on sale in the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy.
Chrome OS: What It's All About
Not familiar with Chrome OS? Check out this video from Google for a quick overview of what the product's all about:
Chrome OS has evolved quite a bit since I started testing it on Google's Cr-48 device. The trackpad has been redesigned and the software has been steadily tweaked to address a wide range of issues that were present in the beginning. Chrome OS now has a new file manager that appears automatically when you download something or connect a USB device. The software provides seamless options to upload files to services like Picasa, Google Docs, and Box.net right from your external storage, too, making the Web effectively work like your own personal hard drive.
The latest version of Chrome OS also adds an integrated media player that allows you to easily play music and video files via a pop-up box or full-screen player.
The other significant change is the addition of more offline services. Google says its Chrome-based Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs apps will all be ready to run offline by the time the new Chromebooks launch this summer. Numerous existing Chrome apps already offer offline support, too.
So that's what's new in the big picture; now, here's a more detailed look at what's on the way in terms of the first two Chromebook devices.
Chrome OS Notebook #1: The Samsung Chromebook
Samsung's Chromebook sports a 12.1-inch screen with 1280-by-800 resolution. It weighs 3.26 pounds and is capable of providing 8.5 hours of continuous use on a single battery charge.
The Samsung Chromebook runs on an Intel Atom dual-core processor. It has two USB 2.0 ports, a 4-in-1 memory card slot, a mini-VGA port, and a full-size Chrome keyboard. The notebook also has an HP-made Webcam and noise-cancelling microphone.
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