Next-generation Chromebooks are here. Earlier today, Google and Samsung announced the new-and-improved Series 5 Chromebook, which features a revamped version of Chrome OS and purportedly three times the hardware horsepower of its predecessor.
The two companies have also unveiled the Series 3 Chromebox, a headless nettop with similar guts.
Samsung's updated Series 5 Chromebook features a 12.1" 12800x800 display, a 1.3GHz Sandy Bridge-based Celeron, 4GB of RAM, 16GB of solid-state storage, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and a six-hour battery. The machine weighs in at 3.3 lbs and will set you back $449.99—admittedly expensive by netbook standards, though the dual-core Celeron should pack a much stronger punch than the original Series 5's Atom N455. Google says the updated Series 5 has a "built-from-scratch multi-touch trackpad" and can boot in "less than seven seconds." If you've got an extra $100 burning a hole in your pocket, you can also get a version of the machine with 3G wireless.
Despite its different outward appearance, the Series 3 Chromebox has nearly identical specs to the Series 5. However, Samsung has equipped it with a slightly quicker processor, the 1.9GHz Celeron B840, and replaced the integrated 12.1" display with dual DisplayPort outputs that can each drive a 2560x1600 monitor. The Chromebox is cheaper, too, at only $329.99.
Both machines come pre-loaded with the latest version of Chrome OS, which sports a hardware-accelerated interface and, unlike prior revisions, proper window management. It looks an awful lot like Windows 7, though Google is still putting a strong emphasis on cloud-based software.
The new Series 5 and Series 3 should be available today. Folks who want to try before they buy will want to keep an eye on their local Best Buy store—Google says Chromebooks will be on display at "selected" Best Buy locations "in the coming weeks."