Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) briefly cut the price of the Samsung Chromebook (XE303C12) down to $219 from the original retail of $249. As of this writing, the Samsung Chromebook discount no longer appears on Amazon. While it was not a huge difference – the $30 discount equated to about 12 percent off – price cuts on retail products often herald the arrival of new and improved models.
Chromebooks are a series of netbooks and laptops that run the Chrome operating system from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), based on the company’s popular web browser. While more complex operating systems such as Microsoft Windows 8 or OS X from Apple offer more functionality, the Chrome OS is built around the fact that many computer users mostly work from their browser window.
With a simple focus, Google Chromebooks require fewer resources to run and are often cheaper than comparable laptops or netbooks. While the Amazon price cut could have been a brief retailer promotion, the timing is right for a new Chromebook from Samsung, leading me to believe the sale was a clearance in anticipation of a new model. Samsung has not released a new Chromebook since October 2012, and a visit to Amazon price-tracking website CamelCamelCamel shows the current model sold for $229 throughout July.
This Samsung Chromebook has earned mostly positive reviews, as critics praise its low cost and versatility, but note its limited functionality and flimsy construction. Some customers complained that the Samsung Chromebook’s screen cracks too easily, while others said it bizarrely and spontaneously cracked on its own. The last Chromebook model added to the lineup was the Chromebook Pixel, a higher-priced touchscreen device from Google that retails for $1,299 (Wifi) and $1,449 (LTE).
Apple recently introduced an updated model of the MacBook Air capable of lasting “all day” on battery power -- upwards of 12 hours thanks to the new Haswell line of processors from Intel (NASDAQ:INTC). The new "Haswells" have been criticized for their high cost, but offer a more efficient new design that allows for extremely long battery life. Multiple reviews said the new MacBook Air models were capable of running even longer than Apple quoted – upwards of 14 hours plus on the 13-inch model. As nice as that sounds, I like to imagine a Chromebook running a similar processor from Intel. Now such a device from Samsung is highly unlikely considering the company will prefer to manufacture its own to keep costs down, but a poor journalist can dream, can’t he?
Google introduced the Chromecast to the Chrome family earlier in August, and the small device quickly sold out online and in Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) stores, likely due to its tiny price ($35). The small dongle connects to a television’s HDMI port to stream Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), YouTube and content purchased through the Google Play Store. The company claims that more streaming services are on the way for the Chromecast, such as the radio service Pandora (NYSE:P).
The Samsung Chromebook has an 11.6-inch screen (1366x768), a dual-core 1.7 GHz system-on-a-chip (Samsung’s own Exynos 5) and a 16GB solid state drive along with 100 GB of free cloud-based storage on Google Drive. The Samsung Chromebook also has a camera, two USB ports (one 2.0, one 3.0), an HDMI port and an SD card reader. It costs $249 for WiFi (sigh) and $329 for a 3G version compatible with Verizon Wireless.