Google Laptops for $250

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The new Chromebooks are here, and cheaper than before. But does the new price offset the limitations?

Google just announced its new Chromebooks – a lightweight, quick-and-easy alternative to traditional laptops for typical users – will start selling next week for $249. It’s touting them as an “additional computer,” not a desktop replacement…

Many people use the Chromebook today as the perfect additional computer for their home. For families, it’s easy to use and share: for kids doing homework on the couch, parents catching up on emails at the kitchen counter and grandparents staying connected on video chat. There’s no need to worry about security updates and maintenance is easy; all you need to do is charge the battery. It just works.

Even with its compact design, it’s packed with performance—it boots up in less than 10 seconds and resumes instantly. High-resolution videos (in 1080p) are beautiful to watch and when using the touchpad, you’ll notice smooth scrolling due to a hardware-accelerated user interface. And as you‘d expect from a Chromebook, it’s easy to share with others. Everyone—mom, dad, grandparents, tech lovers, tech haters—can have separate accounts where all of their stuff is kept safe. Finally, if you’re an active Google user of products like Gmail, Drive, Search, Maps, YouTube, Play or Google+ Hangouts, everything just works seamlessly.

The device weights 2.5 pounds, is less than an inch thick, has an estimated six hours of battery life, and comes with 100 GB of online storage space for two years. (Your stuff stays after that, but you can’t add more without purchasing additional space, or deleting enough stuff to get below the free limits: 5 GB of whatever you want in Google Drive, 10 GB in Gmail, and 1 GB of photos in Picasa.)

The limitation of these devices, and the reason they’re marketed as “an additional computer,” is that they’re browsing-oriented. If you can do everything you need online, they’re great. If you have to use programs like Photoshop, or office programs with more features, or want to play standalone games, they won’t do.

Stacy Johnson

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