You may have seen the unboxing of the ChromeBox, a small $329 computer that is powered by the latest Chrome OS web-based “operating system” from Google. Samsung just made it official in the U.S today and has announced a new Chromebook laptop at the same time.

Both computers have beefier specifications than their predecessor, and that’s a really good thing because despite of having a reputation for being frugal in resource utilization, it’s fair to say that web browsers can be memory hogs, so 4GB  of RAM is a very welcome upgrade from the first Chromebooks, especially when users like to browse with many (many!) tabs open. The new systems also boot faster, which means “5 seconds” in the real world.

Web apps can also be quite intensive. For instance a simple 2D game like Zynga’s CastleVille used up to 25% of the CPU resources of an Intel 6-Core i7 3960X at 3.3-3.9GHz processor. Yet, most people who do simple web browsing on mostly text-base pages may be fine with the Intel Celeron that comes with the Samsung Series 5 550. The Chromebox gets an Intel Core processor, which should be better, but we would need some hands-on time to be sure.

Both systems rely on an Internet connection to work as they have very little internal storage. This is “normal”, given that the whole point of those systems is to enable a connected experience over the web. The advantage is that you always access the same data from anywhere and from any device. The downside is that you (mostly) need a working  connection, and that network speed is inferior to local storage speed, so things may be more “laggy”.

The philosophy, pro and cons haven’t changed much since we first previewed the original Chromebook, and if you want to know more, I definitely recommend checking that article out. Overall, the highlights remain the same: if you can get by with only using web-based apps, this may work great for you. If you don’t know, you can experiment by trying to ONLY use the Chrome browser and see what happens. Chrome OS is a stripped down, very secure, Linux operating system that has one app: the (very successful) Chrome browser. It has some potential, but our experience has shown that it is not for everyone.

If you have more questions, or would like to express your views on this topic, or tell us how it worked for you, please drop a comment below. For more info, check the official pages of Chromebooks and Chromebox

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