New Google laptop to crash rivals' party

19 Oct, 2012

Google will launch a new $250 version of its Chromebook laptop next week, clashing with Microsoft's unveiling of the $499 Surface tablet and a rumoured $250 iPad Mini to be revealed Apple.

Sundar Pichai, Google's head of Chrome, on Thursday presented the new Samsung laptop at a news conference in San Francisco. It will be available in Best Buy stores in the US, at Dixons in the UK at £229, as well as online.

The timing of Google's launch, to include special kiosks in 500 Best Buy stores and 50 "Chrome Zones" in Dixons outlets, seemed designed to steal the thunder from Microsoft's launch of a similar option for consumers.

Microsoft on Tuesday announced the $499 pricing of its 32Gb Surface tablet as well as a $599 version that has a cover with an embedded keyboard.

Mr Pichai said Surface was more expensive and claimed that its new Windows RT operating system – for processors based on designs from the UK's Arm – would not run existing Windows applications.

"Users have this choice of a simple, easy-to-use, hassle free $249 device versus the option that's going to be presented to them," he said.

So far, Google has failed to gain much traction for its $450 Chromebook model. The laptop runs on Google's Chrome operating system and relies on services and apps that can run in a browser. It has a limited amount of storage.

On the newest model, Google is offering 100Gb of Google Drive "cloud" storage, for free for two years. The new Chromebook has an 11.6in screen, a Samsung processor, around 6.5 hours' battery life and weighs 2.5 pounds.

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