Chromebook a low-end hit

Just when you thought netbooks were dead, Google's Chromebook has become the "fastest-growing part of the PC industry" in its price range, reports Bloomberg News, quoting market research firm NPD.

Chromebooks have in just the past eight months snagged 20 percent to 25 percent of the U.S. market for laptops that cost less than $300 ... The surge marks Chromebooks as one of the few types of computers able to attract consumers while Dell Inc. and other traditional PC makers undergo a shakeout. The industry has already seen notebook-PC sales eroded by the popularity of smartphones and tablets such as Apple Inc. iPad.

As a fan of tiny computers, I've owned so many terrible netbooks that it isn't even funny. If you're spending in the $300 price range, skip Windows models and instead get a Chromebook or a tablet with a keyboard case. Unless you enjoy tinkering, little else at the low end of personal computing is worth bothering with. [via Daring Fireball, where proprietor John Gruber reports that 0.07% of visits appear to run Chrome OS—at BB, the figure's roaring along at 0.18%] Read the rest

Thinkpad Chromebook

The X100 series failed, in my view, as $500 "high end" netbooks: hot-running, clunky, and generally not up to Thinkpad snuff. Replacing Windows with Chrome OS and tailoring the system to its needs could be just the thing: the Lenovo X131e has a solid state drive, USB 3 and an ARM CPU. $430 for a machine with only 16GB of storage, though, is really pushing it.

Lenovo Thinkpad X131e Chromebook [google] Read the rest

Google's cheaper Chromebook: enough of a computer

The cheaper Chromebooks that Google introduced last month don't deserve credit for being a cheap way to read e-mail and surf the web: any smartphone meets that specification. But the $249 Samsung model I've been testing for the past two weeks also plausibly replaces a low-end laptop.