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Chromium OS-based Kogan laptop launches

The Australian hardware maker has started taking orders for a cloud-focused laptop based on Chromium OS, the open-source counterpart to Google's Chrome
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By Ben Woods, Senior reporter on
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Chromium Kogan Agora

Australian consumer electronics manufacturer Kogan has put a Chromium OS-based laptop on sale in the UK.

The hardware is a Kogan Agora laptop with a solid-state drive (SSD) and its default Ubuntu Linux operating system swapped out for the cloud-oriented Google Chromium OS. The combination of these two factors results in a boot time of four-and-a-half seconds, the company said in its announcement on Friday.

The device is the first commercially available laptop running the open-source OS, according to Kogan. In July 2009, Google announced it was working on the Chrome OS, targeted at netbooks. In November the same year, it made the Chrome code open source in the shape of the Chromium OS project, for anyone to develop. The two operating systems exist side by side, with Chromium acting as the foundation of Chrome, and with the difference that Chrome can be certified by Google for use by hardware makers.

"While Chromium is still in its early stages, we know the operating system is innovative technology which represents the future of computing," Ruslan Kogan, chief executive of the laptop maker, said in a statement. "It may take some getting used to for some to operate entirely in the cloud, but the massive benefits for the end user are driving acceptance of entirely web-based services."

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Chromium Kogan Agora side on

Kogan also said that he found many customers were already using cloud services such as Gmail, Flickr and Dropbox without realising it. The open, cloud-based nature of Chromium also means that the platform will evolve, he added.

"Google's Chromium OS is an open-source project, making it a constant work in progress. This means the system will improve over time and new features and improvements will keep getting introduced by the open-source community," he said.

Spec-wise, the Agora comes with a 11.6-inch WXGA widescreen HD LED display (1366-by-768-pixel resolution), an Intel Celeron M ULV SU2300 processor, 1GB RAM (with support up to 4GB) and a 30GB SSD.

It also includes Wi-Fi, a 1.3-megapixel webcam, a card reader, integrated Bluetooth, three USB inputs and an HDMI-out.

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Chromium Kogan Agora Front

The Agora 12-inch ultraportable is on sale now in Kogan's online store, priced at £269. Orders are due to start shipping from next week, according to the company.

Manufacturers such as Samsung have unveiled cloud-focused devices running Google Chrome, but none of them are yet available for purchase.

Unlike the Kogan Agora, the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook is available with optional 3G connectivity. Samsung plans to begin selling it on 15 June, with prices from £349 for the Wi-Fi-only version.

Acer also announced an 11-inch Chromebook, which is set to retail in the US for $349 (£214), but it has not yet given the UK pricing details.


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