New Chromebooks to get a much-needed Ivy Bridge speed boost?

New Chromebooks to get a much-needed Ivy Bridge speed boost?

Summary: Will a graphics and speed boost increase Chromebook adoption?

TOPICS: Mobility, Google

I love Google's Chromebooks, especially in educational applications, where their long battery life, fast boot time, and interchangeability make them great "cloud clients." They are, however, fairly pokey, especially as tabs and windows start to proliferate as they are wont to do. The latest rumors, though, based on recent updates to related open source projects, suggests that a new generation of Chromebooks will feature Intel's snappy Sandy and Ivy Bridge chipsets.

Outside of the education vertical, Chromebooks have faced stiff competition from tablets, partly because of perceived need and partly because of performance. Graphics-intensive web apps in particular suffer on the Atom-based Chromebooks and, for those not heavily vested in the Google ecosystem (especially Google Apps), they are perceived as web surfing, portable kiosks. In fact, the number of Apps available in the Chrome Web Store is significant, making Chrome a suitable desktop replacement OS for many users.

Those web apps, which range from MMORPGs to photo and video editing to project management and productivity software, are the biggest reason that a speed boost would make Chromebooks competitive outside niche markets where a "Google Apps Client" is compelling. For users considering the netbook/notebook/tablet value proposition, better performance and a host of apps that beg for a keyboard could certainly tip the scales in favor of Google's notebooks.

Stephen Shankland wrote on CNET that

Thus, the prospect of a Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge machine intrigues me -- the faster graphics for hardware acceleration, for example. I'm not sure if it'll do a number on the current Chromebooks' impressive battery life, and it still will probably fall short for gaming, photo editing, video editing, and other tasks that right now aren't well suited to browser apps. But I'd take a faster Chromebook that I actually use over a slower one with better battery life that I don't use.

I'm willing to bet that a lot of people feel the same way, myself included. There's a reason I favor my MacBook Air over my aging Chromebook. That machine I leave for my wife who never has more than 5 tabs open and for whom checking our banking online or uploading a photo to Facebook is high-performance computing.

Topics: Mobility, Google

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • As for me these Chromebooks hold NO appeal.

    I am open however to being shown their value if such exists. I myself so far don't see it.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • Remember all the hype about ChromeOS?

      Time to hold these ZD bloggers accountable.
      • Yes... I even pasted the comments in a document

        to go back and review. "The end of MS Windows" OSX is in trouble...
    • Price point too high.

      For a device that is basically a web browsing system, the price is much too high. A super idea in theory, but not cost effective at this point.

      Now if the price can be fixed with the $100 - $199 range, then this could work out very well. But until then....not gonna happen.
      linux for me
    • I agree

      I use the browser a lot, but I use a lot of local apps which don't have suitable web based alternatives.

      Also having to be online is a problem. At least with local apps, if you are in an area with no network coverage and no wifi, you can still work.
  • The number of users will explode...

    from two to four!
    Tony Burzio
  • It's Chrome really don't blame hardware

    On my laptop and desktop the more apps and let be frank most are shortcuts to web sites. The more you add the longer boot time Chrome takes. I wouldn't say it's a hardware it's more of a chrome issue. My biggest issue with the Cr-48 is that you had to subscribe to Picnik to upload images from a SD card to Facebook etc. It has been a while since I have used it and since Google shut down picnik I have no idea if they updated ChromeOS for direct upload of images to social sites from SD cards.
  • I have 2 Chromebooks

    I have two Chromebooks, one that I primarily use and one that is shared with the rest of the family. With an 8 hour battery life and instant on, the appeal for me is simplicity and convenience. It is not the "be all end all", there is PLENTY of things I cannot do with a Chromebook compared to Windows...but that's not it's purpose. However, using it has made me find ways to do much more in the "cloud" than I ever had before.

    It can be a bit laggy on some sites, but its rarely and issue. I would estimate that I use the Chromebook for 95% of my home use. Chromebooks are not a Windows replacement, it's simply an alternative to accessing the web...and a pretty good one. The hardware is a good balance for the battery life.
  • They just don't provide good value..

    At current price point you can get a full laptop that does everything a chromeBook does and on top of that does everything a laptop does... ChromeBooks just don't make sence economically.. At $99 a browser in hardware form stars to make sence..
    • admin controlled environment

      I'm with you funk doctor. The Chromebook is good for edu and other admin controlled environments, but the value isn't there for personal use.
      • Read Google's terms of service and tell me you still believe that

        About "Chromebook is good for edu", of which I assume you meant "education" or "educational" rather than anything like "emu"...

        And if you think students and others doing work on these things is good, don't forget Google's ToS -- these Chromebooks are good ONLY for Google's ToS and it allowing Google a royalty-free copy of everything they upload -- and that's on top of their standard snooping policies. Just so they can profit off the work of others long before those who do the work can profit for themselves. You really think such leeching off of others' work is a good thing?

        That sums it up in a nutshell.
    • Used

      I do agree, I would not pay the new price. I did get my second one used for $100. The price point does have to come down, however lower prices and faster hardware do not go hand in hand.
    • Agree

      Agree with you on this. The max I would pay for a hardware web browser is 99.99. if it comes down to that price, I will definitely buy one.
    • I agree

      Chrome books need to be price @ $200. Really all you have is a browser not like it needs top hardware like a Icore 7 or AMD Bulldozer to run it I Really don't see why Google allow this to be price @ $500 most people like me would pass and get a laptop that does more. As far as netbooks goes the Chromebook is the only way to go but to get more user prices need to go way down.
  • New Chromebooks to get a much-needed Ivy Bridge speed boost?

    Don't see the new chip doing anything for chrome books. Its all web based which is the real limitation, not the processor. Not to mention just the chome book in general is a bad concept.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Not just the over-reliance on web-based co-dependence...

      But ChromeOS's own terms of service:

      "11. Content licence from you

      11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

      11.2 You agree that this licence includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

      11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this licence shall permit Google to take these actions.

      11.4 You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above licence."

  • Valid question

    I think it is a valid question to ask why a minimal OS like Chome requires such advanced hardware to give it decent performance? One could easily run a full blown Linux or Windows OS on a system like that and get very good performance, yet Chris states that his Chromebooks are sluggish. One of my coworkers has one of the original Chromebooks, and he actually did that, wiping the machine and installing BSD instead. He states that the system runs better with the full OS than it ever did with Chrome. What's up?
    • Google is many things, but NOT an OS company.

    • What's up?

      What's up? - There seems a lot of FUDing, shilling, and trolling about when it comes to Chromebooks for some reason.

      It is also apparent that Microsoft sees Chromebooks as a serious competitive threat to Windows as testified to by its anti-ChromeOS patent licensing extortion scam along with Microsoft's anti-Android patent licensing extortion scam, which attempt to force the price of Chromebooks and Android devices to make them uncompetitive.

      You see a very different pattern when it comes to Windows Phone 7 for example. There, it is clear from sales that customers aren't genuinely interested in the product, and not being interested in the product, they don't waste large amounts of their time attacking it in blogs - they simply ignore it as completely in blogs, as they do in retail stores.

      The Microsoft vs Comes anti-trust lawsuit has revealed the extent to Microsoft uses paid shills, trolls and astroturfers to frequent and post on blogs and comments posted on the Internet. Is there must be a connection, I wonder, between Microsoft's anti-Chromebook scheming, Microsoft's payments to shills and astroturfers, and trolling on various blogs and article comments?

      Google it seems, is discouraging sales of Chromebooks to the public at the moment: there is no advertising, no retail sales where people can try before they buy, and the Chromebooks available on sale (as opposed to monthly subscription reserved for schools and businesses) are deliberately priced at a premium in order to limit sales to early adopters who want to try it out. Why? I suspect Google doesn't want Chromebooks to distract from Android tablet sales which are at a critical stage at the moment - they have positioned Android for consumer devices, and Chromebooks for schools and businesses as an all-in subscription package along with Google Apps.

      Chromebooks do have a huge potential market for casual Internet users (the majority of current Windows users currently), but it won't take off in the consumer market until Google corrects the pricing, and completes the development of the missing parts of ChromeOS, which include VPN, completes PNaCl, and various local file handlers like zip file handlers. If and when Google decides to do these things (and they are not hard to do), as Microsoft rightly recognises, Chromebooks will sell very well in the mass consumer market.
  • Ditch the Intel Atom

    Try the AMD E-350 with Radeon HD 6310 Graphics (Vision Graphics). Develop a Linux driver for that GPU if one doesn't aready exist and you're off to the races. Dual-core CPU + serious graphics and it's all on one chip so cost should be good and battery life too.