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Laptops/Notebooks

Intel, Google show 'next-generation' Chromebooks

Intel and Google showed off the next generation of Chromebooks from Hewlett-Packard, Acer and Toshiba, which will be faster and more power-efficient than predecessors.

The new Chromebooks will run on Intel's latest Haswell processors and be available during the holiday season this year, according to Doug Fisher, vice president of the software and services group at Intel.

Running on Google's Chrome OS, the Chromebooks will offer 50 percent more battery life and be 15 percent faster than models available today, Fisher said during a keynote at the Intel Developer Forum on Wednesday.

Asus, Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard currently offer Chromebooks based on Intel's older Celeron chips, while Samsung has a Chromebook running on an ARM processor.

Chromebooks are lightweight laptops for people who do most of their computing on the Web. HP's new HP 14 Chromebook has optional 4G mobile connectivity and offers more than nine hours of battery life, Fisher said. Details were not shared on Acer's and Toshiba's new Chromebooks.

Also shown on stage was Asus' latest Haswell-based Chromebox desktop computer, which "can be used at home, in a kiosk, or in a call center," Fisher said.

Google is trying to expand into desktop-style computing with Chrome OS, said Sundar Pichai, senior vice president for Android, Chrome and applications at Google, during an appearance at Fisher's keynote.

"Chrome OS represents a new form of computing," Pichai said.

Chromebooks represent 25 percent of sales in the sub-$300 PC category, said Pichai, citing "external analyst estimates."

"They are big in education as well. They are now deployed in over 5,000 schools in the U.S.," Pichai said.

The Chrome OS is optimized for Intel chips, and Intel has more than 1,000 engineers working on Chrome to bring these devices to market, Fisher said.

"We're optimizing the kernel, we're optimizing the drivers" and the browsing experience, Fisher said.

Intel declined comment on the expected prices for the Haswell-based Chromebooks. Prices on current models vary -- Acer's Chromebook starts at US$199, while Google's high-end Chromebook Pixel is priced at $1,299.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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