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Google sees Chromebooks, tablets converging

by David Needle

October 18 2012

The latest Chromebooks has some of the same features as tablets (long battery life and near instant-on), but lacks a touchscreen interface.
The latest Chromebooks has some of the same features as tablets (long battery life and near instant-on), but lacks a touchscreen interface.

Google has rolled out a budget version of its Chromebook notebook, the Internet device powered by browser-based applications and software.

Sundar Pichai, the Google VP in charge of Chrome and Google Apps, told CNet that he thinks “the notion of what is a tablet and what a Chromebook is over time will converge," for example as tablets learn to get along better with keyboards.

While the PC market struggles, tablet sales, particularly for the iPad, are booming. But Pichai said there are many situations -- notably typing -- when people prefer a device with a traditional keyboard. His daughter uses a Chromebook for school, and "she vastly prefers opening up her Chromebook and doing her homework," he said.

Chromebooks also have the instant-on response that's so alluring with tablets, he added. The Samsung Chromebook will last 6.5 hours on one battery, and it runs cool enough that like tablets, it doesn't have a fan.

But while the Chromebook may be the quintessential device for cloud computing, CNet notes developers face headaches getting Web apps to work when there's no network connection, and even Google Docs only has partial support -- for example, you can't edit spreadsheets.

The $249 Samsung Chromebook sports an 11.6-inch screen and weighs less than 2.5 pounds.

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