The best thing about Chromebooks? Free data service from Verizon.

Summary:These upstart netbooks by Samsung and Acer hit the sweet spot between portability, affordability and productivity, and could even convert tablet and smartphone customers to the Chromebook.

Chromebook is not just for corporations or schools: In fact, you can pre-order one for yourself from Amazon and Best Buy starting June 15, according to the Chromebook website. With the slightly more expensive 3G version, these upstart netbooks could dampen sales for the tablets and smartphones that just aren't cut out for serious work.

You can either go for the ultra-slim 0.79-inch thin, 12.1" Samsung Series 5, or the lighter 11.6" Acer at 2.95 lbs, but other than cosmetic differences, both netbooks are quite similar under the hood. Since Chromebooks are taking the term "netbook" to the extreme, where all your apps and software only exist in the cloud, both devices have built-in Wi-Fi with optional 3G network connectivity.

In fact, the best Chromebook feature is not that the OS boots up in 8 seconds, but that the slightly more expensive worldwide 3G option comes with free, 100 MB per month of mobile broadband from Verizon for two years. (Of course you can also pay Verizon more for more bandwidth, see this page for pre-paid data service prices.) So you can at least check your email when you're not in a Wi-Fi zone, without reaching for your credit card. Assuming the Verizon network holds up, this feature alone will convince consumers who are on the fence about paying for an expensive data plan for a tablet or smartphone, which are simply untenable for work days that requires a lot of reading or typing. Chromebook may just be in that sweet spot of being light enough for users to tote around all day, yet large and connected enough to use non-stop.

The Wi-Fi-only Acer starts at $349, with the price for the 3G worldwide model yet to be announced. The Samsung with Wi-Fi will cost $429, while the worldwide 3G version will set you back $499, as reported by Engadget.

Here are the specs available on both the Samsung and Acer so far. I will update this post as more details trickle in.

Samsung Series 5 netbook running ChromeOS

  • Display: 12.1" (1280x800) 300 nit
  • Weight: 3.26 lbs / 1.48 kg
  • Battery: 8.5 hours of continuous usage
  • CPU: Dual core 1.66GHz Intel Atom N570 chip
  • Connectivity: Built in dual-band Wi-Fi and World-mode 3G (optional)
  • Harddrive: 16GB mSATA solid state drive
  • Camera: 1 MP HD Webcam with noise cancelling microphone
  • Plugs: 2 USB 2.0 ports; 4-in-1 memory card slot; Mini-VGA port
  • Keyboard: Fullsize Chrome keyboard
  • Mouse: Oversize fully-clickable trackpad

Acer netbook running ChromeOS

  • Display: 11.6" HD Widescreen CineCrystalTM LED-backlit LCD
  • Weight: 2.95 lbs. | 1.34 kg.
  • Battery: 6 hours of continuous usage
  • CPU: Intel® AtomTM Dual-Core Processor
  • Connectivity: Built in dual-band Wi-Fi and World-mode 3G (optional)
  • Camera: HD Webcam with noise cancelling microphone
  • Multimedia: High-Definition Audio Support
  • Plugs: 2 USB 2.0 ports, 4-in-1 memory card slot, HDMI port
  • Keyboard: Fullsize Chrome keyboard
  • Mouse: Oversize fully-clickable trackpad

[via Engadget]

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Topics: Browser, Google, Hardware, Intel, Mobility, Operating Systems, Samsung, Tablets, Verizon, Wi-Fi

About

Gloria Sin is a New York-based freelance journalist who writes about the tech toys that you can't live without for ZDNet. She has little patience for poorly designed user experiences, and is not afraid of opening the guts of her own machines for repair or hacking her gadgets for new uses.She has written for FastCompany.com, Popular Scienc... Full Bio

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