More companies are taking a chance on Google's low-cost alternative to the Microsoft Windows PC.
Rather than the latest version of Windows, Chromebooks use Google's Chrome OS as an operating system, along with a set of cloud-based ‘app-style' software applications to increase performance, minimize the risk of viruses and to cut costs. As a result, a consumer can snap up one of the growing range of notebooks for as little as $200.
As well as Toshiba and Asus launching their first Chromebook computers, existing Chromebook makers HP and Acer have also announced new models using Intel's latest Haswell processor, which boosts graphics performance while doubling battery life.
Although availability is restricted -- Chromebooks are currently only actively marketed in the US, UK and a handful of territories beyond, such as Singapore and Hong Kong -- the latest NPD Group figures show that their popularity is growing quickly, despite a shaky start. In the US they account for between 20-25 percent of the sub-$300 US notebook market, making the devices the fastest-growing PC category based on price. Therefore it is less than surprising that at a time when traditional PC sales have never been worse that more and more companies are looking to diversify and tap into any market that offers signs of life.
At the moment, Samsung, Acer, Lenovo, HP and now Asus and Toshiba, as well as Google itself, all offer Chromebook PCs all of which, with the exception of Google's cutting-edge Chromebook Pixel, retail for less than $300 in the US. The latest Acer, Toshiba and HP models, though announced this week, will not be hitting the shelves until the holiday season when pricing will be confirmed.