Chrome OS netbooks could launch this week

Call it a hunch, but Google might be about to pull the curtain off the very first netbook based on its Chrome OS operating system. Several publications around the web are expecting an announcement at a December 7 event, for which Google sent out invitations late on Friday. According to eWeek, the invites simply read, "On Dec. 7, we will host an event in San Francisco where we plan to share some exciting news about Chrome."

A story at PC World fuels the speculation by pointing to additional sources. As PC World notes, DigiTimes predicted a December arrival for Chrome OS-based "smartbooks" a few weeks ago. And on Friday, Engadget posted a picture of the keyboard from a purported Chrome OS netbook. That keyboard has a search button where caps lock should be, and it has only control, alt, and arrow keys next to the space bar. If Chrome OS netbooks aren’t coming on Tuesday, they certainly don’t look too far off.

There’s been some talk of Chrome OS venturing onto slates, as well, but Google CEO Eric Schmidt threw cold water on those rumors last month, explaining that Chrome OS is "designed for something with a keyboard." That makes eminent sense—after all, Google is already priming the next version of Android for slates. It probably doesn’t need a second slate OS hitting the market around the same time.

I’ve slammed today’s netbooks for having failed to stay interesting, so I’ll be one of the first in line to check out those Chrome OS systems and see if they manage to spice up the netbook concept. I could definitely see a case made for a cheap, fast Internet console not bogged down by trialware and still comfy enough to write long e-mails on—something you can’t quite say about slates. Then again, users might not be ready to part ways with conventional software and rely solely on web apps.

Comments closed
    • burntham77
    • 9 years ago

    I am giving serious consideration to the new color Nook from Barnes and Noble. I really want an eBook reader, but having one that also lets me browse the internet and play music sounds perfect. Sure the iPad and other similar tablets do a lot more, but frankly I don’t need it to do anymore than read books and surf the net from my couch.

    • StashTheVampede
    • 9 years ago

    What *I* want:
    – iPad like battery performance. Seriously, this sucker is days of on/off use for web surfing.
    – Decent sized keyboard. I’ve tolerated the MBP 13″ keyboard and its the smallest I will use, comfortably.
    – 13-15″ screen, with a “good” resolution (aka high resolution).
    – The ability to GET to the command line and modify the OS setup
    – OS plays Flash, browser is identical to Chrome/Chromium otherwise.

    Beyond that, it could be Tegra2, multiple flavors of ARM, etc.

      • Farting Bob
      • 9 years ago

      If you want at minimum a keyboard from a 13″ laptop, then you arent interested in a netbook, your interested in a new laptop. ChromeOS should work very well on a normal sized laptop as well, but this is a article about netbooks, which at most you can say is anything 11″ or less.

        • StashTheVampede
        • 9 years ago

        When you remove the x86 chip, the “netbook” gets cheaper, has a longer battery life, is lighter, etc. There isn’t any real reason why an ARM processor can’t power a 13″ LCD screen and have a “full” keyboard.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 9 years ago

          Considering that there are several OEMs in on this already, someone will invariably try it.

          The question then is if they become more like laptops than smartphones with big screens, will anyone make one that’s not ruined by the race to the bottom that plagues laptops? Glossy, low contrast screens with glossed gloss on every thin, plastic surface, ahoy!

            • StashTheVampede
            • 9 years ago

            “Netbooks” = cheap laptops (ihmo). It wasn’t about the size of the screen, but more about the price point. It so happened to be that the cheaper the price, the smaller the screen. Removing x86 out of the mix and now you have potentially reduced the overall cost of the platform and could bring up the size of the screen and keyboard.

            If end users are fine without Windows (I am, not everyone is), then you easily can get by with a Ubuntu-like distro that runs off a small-ish flash drive but has Flash acceleration, X, etc. Some vendor will make a completely non-Windows capable “netbook” that I describe and I’m sure it’ll sell well to geeks.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 9 years ago

            I don’t know how much the size of the screen really affects the price when they’re that small to begin with. It seems that whether or not it’s a standard size is more important.

            When there are multiple sizes of laptops, the 15″ often costs less than the 14″, and that’s more of a difference in panel real estate than going from 11″ to 13″.

            13″ isn’t horribly common, but since it’s the norm for small laptops, and small netbooks died off, I could see it at least costing the same.

            What I have to wonder about is that with small screens and using smart phone/tablet hardware, they may actually be going for something totally different. Tablets have decent size, but potentially much nicer screens. Of course, they cost more, but that may not necessarily be the case going forward.

            Then again, we still don’t know if this isn’t just another Atom POS…I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

    • Farting Bob
    • 9 years ago

    Im currently viewing this on a 10″ EeeeeeeeeeeeeeePC using Ubuntu and chrome. I get the best of both worlds. Good fast browser ideal for small screens and a OS capable of doing more than very basic things when im not connected to the world wide intertubes.

    • Trymor
    • 9 years ago

    Someone better patent the integrated ‘search key’ keyboard layout. I can envision every keyboard sold having said key.

    • srg86
    • 9 years ago

    Internet Console = meh, I do my computing with desktop apps, a normal netbook would be way more useful to me, I don’t just surf the net with a computer.

      • blastdoor
      • 9 years ago

      I tend to agree. It seems like the only way this would be appealing would be if it’s free or nearly free. At least then poor people might find it appealing… if they live in a fantasy world with free wi-fi.

      But even if this cost $0 I doubt that I’d pick one up just because it would be another thing to carry around and couldn’t really replace or augment anything else that I already carry around.

    • dpaus
    • 9 years ago

    PERSONALLY, I *[

      • mduncan62
      • 9 years ago

      I AGREE, THIS IS AN AWESOME IDEA. COUNT ME IN

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      q[<11<]q FTFYG[1]G

      • burntham77
      • 9 years ago

      WHY ARE WE YELLING?

    • blastdoor
    • 9 years ago

    The only way I see the “ChromeBook” finding any success is if it is heavily subsidized by Google (maybe a cost of $99 or less) with the idea being to make money off of advertising. But if they try to sell this at the same price as a regular Windows netbook minus the cost of Windows, I think it will flop (better than Kin but worse than GameCube).

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 9 years ago

      It won’t flop if it both costs less and works better. Seriously, we’re talking about netbooks here. The bar isn’t exactly very high, seeing as Intel and MS totally screwed up the entire idea. Someone else can still do it right.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    Yo! first first in a long time! that’s crazy about the chrome. One thing I don’t like though, is the messed up keyboard. No caps lock, or super key? wtf is that?

      • poulpy
      • 9 years ago

      Congrats!
      No caps lock button to be seen but there’s a caps indicator on the shift key so the functionality must still be there.
      Keep your panties on, for now at least, think of the children!

      • Grigory
      • 9 years ago

      WHAT? NO CAPS LOCK?

      • Hattig
      • 9 years ago

      No one uses caps lock … well, no one that should know better anyway. Far better to replace it with ctrl+shift or double-shift.

      I wonder how Google will be differentiating their hardware from other netbooks, apart from making the keyboard a little more suitable for the device category? If it’s just a plain old Atom system, then the only real saving will be in using the free Google OS instead of a cheap Windows limited for Netbooks OS.

      The obvious answer is to create netbooks based around high-end ARM SoCs – e.g., Tegra 2, or dual-core equivalents from TI, Qualcomm, Samsung, etc. These are cheaper than the Atom infrastructure, and might also allow for a smaller, lighter, cheaper battery to be used. However I think this is where ChromeOS netbooks will be going in a year’s time, not now.

      Alternatively, AMD’s Ontario and Zacate platforms would be nice, and I think I would wait for ChromeOS hardware to appear based around these.

      Finally, the Chrome browser on a 1.6GHz Atom is going to be very nice, especially compared to IE7 on the same processor two years ago when netbooks started getting popular.

        • BlackStar
        • 9 years ago

        1. Map Caps Lock to Backspace
        2. ???
        3. Profit

        Seriously, try it. Your right wrist will thank you for it.

          • Usacomp2k3
          • 9 years ago

          You don’t use backspace?

            • BlackStar
            • 9 years ago

            As I said, I use Caps Lock as a wrist-friendly alternative to Backspace. I use either key depending on what and how I am typing.

            With this change and a switch from qwerty to colemak, I’ve managed to minimize wrist strain and increase typing speed by roughly 50%.

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