Google and HP have worked together to build a premium all-metal laptop running the search giant’s lightweight Chrome OS which is thinner than a MacBook with prices starting at under $500.
Chromebooks have been around for five years and are already dominant in the education market, making up 51 percent of all devices sold into U.S. classrooms according to research from Futuresource Consulting published in December.
However the Chromebook 13 was unveiled at Google’s office in New York on Thursday is being targeted at home and office users according to HP while Google says it is a business focused device calling it “secure and professional” and Intel is promoting the laptop as “a new way to work.”
The Chromebook 13 measures 12.9 mm in height, which is slightly slimmer than Apple’s MacBook which is 13.2 mm at its highest point, though it does taper to just 3.6 mm. The new laptop from HP also features the same Intel Core M processor which Apple uses for its flagship laptop, which was upgraded with the sixth generation Skylake chips earlier this month.
HP earlier this month launched what it claims is the world's thinnest laptop. The HP Spectre is just 10.4 mm and uses Intel's more powerful Core i chips.
Thanks to the use of the more energy efficient Core M processor, HP promises 11.5 hours of battery life from the new Chromebook, again identical to the MacBook’s stated battery life.
Unlike the MacBook however, HP’s laptop has more than just a single USB-C port. In fact it has two USB-C ports, a USB 3.0 port, a headphone jack and a microSD card reader.
Part of the reason for the enterprise push with the new Chromebook is the launch of a new Elite USB-C Docking Station which allows you hook up three monitors and a range of other peripherals to the laptops when sat a desk — similar to Microsoft’s Surface docking stations which turn the Surface tablets into desktop PCs.
Shipping later this month, the basic configuration of Chromebook 13 is priced at $499 but features an Intel Pentium processor, with customers having to shell out at least $599 for a Core M model. You can upgrade the RAM to 16Gb and the 13.3-inch screen is available with a 3,200 x 1600 pixel resolution, but with this configuration you will be paying over $1,000 - which is not far shy of the price of the entry level MacBook.
Since Google launched Chrome OS five years ago it has made small, incremental changes to the operating system, but has never given it a major overhaul. That change could be coming next month at Google I/O when the company is reported to be preparing to announced that all Android apps will be made available for Chrome OS through a version of the Play Store.
This would significantly increase the interest in Chrome OS, however considering the HP Chromebook 13 lacks a touchscreen playing Angry Birds on your laptop may still prove difficult.