Intel unloads bevy of new Chromebooks; previews 'Education' reference design

Summary:All in all, Intel is gearing up to release at least 20 Chromebooks by the end of the year.

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SAN FRANCISCO--Intel is putting further stock into its Chromebook investment with a slew of new budget-friendly laptops alongside a few other Chrome OS-based computing devices.

Unveiled during a press conference on Tuesday morning, the processor giant has tapped nearly every major PC vendor on the map for a contribution to the portfolio.

All in all, Intel is gearing up to release at least 20 Chromebooks by the end of the year -- up from just four in September 2013. Intel further boasted that it will be involved in releasing the first to feature 64-bit Chrome OS.

Navin Shenoy, vice president and general manager of Intel's mobile client platforms group, asserted during the presentation that Intel is "aggressively pursuing" new form factors from tablets to wearables and all that comes with the Internet of Things movement.

Starting with what might already be considered the traditional Chromebook model for consumers, Acer, Asus, Lenovo, and Toshiba are focusing on the consumer demographic with the first Chromebooks running on Intel Celeron processors based on the Bay Trail-M system-on-chip platform.

Business customers on the road frequently might want to take a second look at these fanless machines being that the Bay Trail-M SoC promises up to 11 hours of battery life while supporting touch-enabled screens and 802.11ac wireless internet.

See also: CNET's live blog from Google's and Intel's Chrome OS event

Acer along with Dell are also going slightly higher-end with their versions by embedding the fourth-generation Intel Core i3 processor.

Intel suggested the more powerful platform should smooth out some bugs when loading rich web apps up to four times faster faster as well as boost performance for Google Hangouts with multiple parties, making it more acceptable for video conferencing while on-the-go.

Intel didn't provide exact ship dates for every model introduced on Tuesday, but the Asus 11.6-inch C200 and 13.3-inch C300 will be ready for back-to-school season when they ship this summer. The i3-based Acer C720 Chromebook will also become available "early" in the back-to-school shopping season with a sticker price of $349.99.

While also touting many of these lightweight PCs as ideal for students, Intel is further honing its education strategy.

Caesar Sengupta, vice president of Chrome OS product management at Google, cited that Chromebooks have already been deployed at more than 10,000 schools to date.

Highlighting "great momentum in the commercial segment," Sengupta stressed that "we're just at the beginning of the back-to-school buying season."

Sengupta also boasted success for Chrome OS in the business market, pointing toward Chromebox for Meetings, the all-in-one video conferencing setup unveiled last year. Current Chromebox for Business customers mentioned included Kaplan, Appirio, and Logitech, among others.

Looking forward, the chip maker offered a glimpse at its "Education Chromebook" reference design.

Shenoy held up the white clamshell prototype, noting that the technology inside was previously available on Windows, continuing that Intel is "now bringing that innovation and investment to Chrome."

Intel is still keeping most of the details on this project under wraps, hinting at most of education slant held up by software. Shenoy did offer that CTL will be the first OEM to bring the Education Chromebook reference design to market later this year.

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Stepping away from Chromebooks, Google is setting its sights larger again -- at least in terms of form factor -- with another stab at the Chromebox.

Following previous collaborations with Asus and Android ecosystem giant Samsung, Google is working with Hewlett-Packard this time on a new Chromebox that will launch in the United States in June with three shades to choose from: black, white and sky blue.

Based on Intel Celeron and Haswell architectures, the tech giant affirmed that the HP Chromebox will essentially be able to turn any screen into a Google Chrome-based PC.

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Intel is also lowering the bar, financially speaking, for desktops with the launch of LG's 21-inch Chromebase all-in-one PC, scheduled to ship later this month for $349.99.

Images: James Martin, CNET

Topics: PCs, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Processors

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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