Samsung Electronics hopes its latest Chromebook 2 will reaffirm its commitment to PCs in the U.S., specially after a surprising decision last month to stop selling laptops in Europe.
The latest Chromebook 2 NP900X3E-A02US, announced on Friday, has an 11.6-inch screen and weighs 1.2 kilograms. Starting at US$249.99, it is also Samsung's least expensive Chromebook 2 model.
The model will ship next week in the U.S. The laptop offers nine hours of battery life and has 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM.
Chromebooks are lightweight, low-cost laptops for those who do most of their computing online. The PCs run Google's Chrome OS, and most applications require wireless connectivity. Google is making more offline applications available in an effort to make Chromebooks full-fledged competitors to Windows PCs.
The devices are selling well because of price and portability, and the company wanted to add an inexpensive model ahead of the holiday season, said David Ng, PC product manager at Samsung.
The new laptop has a 720p webcam and the screen can display images at a 1366 x 768-pixel resolution. The laptop's features are similar to Acer's lower cost C720 Chromebook, which is being sold for $199.99 on Amazon.com.
Samsung's Chromebook may be priced higher, but is also more rugged with a metal reinforcement protecting the screen and chassis, Ng said.
The South Korean company has also adopted Intel's Celeron N2840 x86 processor for the laptop instead of its homegrown ARM-based Exynos processor, which is in the company's other Chromebook 2 models. Samsung currently sells three Chromebook 2 models starting at $299.
The use of an Intel chip does not mean Samsung is moving away from Exynos, Ng said. Instead, the company is diversifying its Chromebook offerings, and the Intel chip was the best fit for the model when accounting for price and performance, Ng said.
The PC market is weakening, but shipments of Chromebooks are growing, according to research firm NPD.
Samsung last month scaled down PC operations when it stopped selling laptops in Europe, following in the footsteps of Sony, which exited the PC market, and Toshiba, which is now focusing on business laptops. Ng could not comment about the decision to stop laptop sales in Europe, but said Samsung will continue selling Windows laptops and Chromebooks in the U.S., Ng said.
"We are definitely committed to the PC space in the U.S." Ng said.
Samsung is one of the top Chromebook sellers, but Google is also working with other companies to build Chrome OS laptops, desktops and set-top boxes. Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer, Asus and Lenovo also sell Chromebooks with a range of features and processors.