AMD Chromebooks can dual-boot Windows 11, too

Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook.

Enlarge / Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook. (credit: Lenovo)

A developer has shared a way to dual-boot Windows 10/11 and Chrome OS on an AMD Ryzen-powered Chromebook.

Note that there are simpler ways to get a Windows-like experience on a Chromebook, including virtualization apps such as Parallels Desktop. And you shouldn’t get your hopes too high about Microsoft’s OS and apps running smoothly on a Chromebook, especially if you’re using one of the many lower-specced machines, since this method is not officially supported. You should take caution and be aware of the Chromebook manufacturer’s warranty before deciding if you want to use the developer’s guide.

As shared via Reddit and spotted by XDA Developers on Monday, the developer known as Coolstarog reportedly got Windows and Chrome OS to dual-boot on Chromebooks using AMD 3 3250C, Ryzen 5 3500C, and Ryzen 7 3700C processors and the AMD Athlon 3015ce APU. The HP Chromebook 14bHP Chromebook Pro c645 Enterprise, and Lenovo Yoga C13 Chromebook were reportedly tested successfully.

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#amd, #chromebook, #laptops, #tech

Samsung launches a lower-powered, cheaper Galaxy Chromebook 2-in-1

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 360

Enlarge / Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 360. (credit: Samsung)

Samsung released its latest Chrome OS device today, the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 360. While some Samsung Chromebooks occupy the upper echelon of Chromebooks in terms of prices and specs, its newest offering is a step down.

The Galaxy Chromebook 2 360’s nomenclature may be a bit confusing. The Galaxy Chromebook 2, which is currently available with a starting MSRP of $550, also has a 360-degree hinge, despite lacking “360” in its name. But the Galaxy Chromebook 2 360 starts at the lower price of $430, making it a more attainable option for students or for those looking for a secondary device.

The most obvious difference is the display size. The new Chromebook has a smaller 12.4-inch LED panel, while the older Galaxy Chromebook 2 uses a 13.3-inch QLED panel, which applies quantum dots to bring a large color coverage claim of 100 percent DCI-P3. Samsung hasn’t made any specific color claims for its latest Chromebook.

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#ars-shopping, #chromebook, #laptops, #samsung, #tech

RGB keyboard feature renews hope for RTX Chromebooks

RGB keyboard feature renews hope for RTX Chromebooks


It has been two years since Google sparked dreams of PC gaming coming to Chromebooks. We’ve yet to hear word on when we’ll be able to frag on Chrome OS, but we now know that work is being done to bring RGB-backlit keyboards to the operating system. And since RGB and gaming go hand in hand, these keyboards could find their way into potential Chromebooks with Nvidia RTX graphics cards.

In April, Nvidia announced that it is working with MediaTek, which makes the SoCs in many Chromebooks, to create a reference platform that supports Chromium and Nvidia SDKs, as well as Linux. In a press release, the GPU maker promised to bring together RTX graphics cards and Arm-based chips to deliver ray tracing “to a new class of laptops.” In 2021, Nvidia demoed RTX on a MediaTek Kompanio 1200, a chip that MediaTek says will be in “some of the biggest Chromebook brands.”

The news came more than a year after Google announced that it was working on bringing Steam to Chromebooks. It doesn’t matter if the laptops have RTX graphics if there are no PC games worth playing on them. There hasn’t been much news on RTX or Steam support since. But at least we know that work is underway on another part of making gaming on Chromebooks a thing: RGB.

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#chromebook, #google, #laptops, #mediatek, #nvidia, #tech

Chromebooks may borrow the Pixel’s battery-preservation trick

Chromebooks may borrow the Pixel’s battery-preservation trick

Enlarge (credit: Getty)

You can never have enough battery life, but keeping your device’s battery at a constant 100 percent can degrade its life span. Many laptops already use artificial intelligence to control how a device uses its battery, and Chromebooks are now apparently heading down that road as well.

As spotted by 9to5Google this week, a new code change in the Chromium Gerrit references “adaptive charging” coming to Chromebooks. The change’s description says the feature uses machine learning to “minimize the amount of time the device spends at full battery to preserve battery lifetime.”

This system would be similar to features we’ve seen on higher-end Windows laptops. For example, HP’s upcoming Elite Dragonfly 3 laptop will use intelligent charging, which, as the vendor puts it, “learns work patterns to optimize power consumption.” It’s unclear how exactly the developing Chrome OS feature would work, though. It appears that Google will allow the feature to be toggled off, and a notification will let you know when it’s on.

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#chromebook, #google, #laptops, #tech

Acer’s new Chromebooks have anchored keys that are hard to rip out

Acer-Chromebook 314 open and lid

Enlarge / Acer Chromebook 314. (credit: Acer)

Acer is taking an interesting approach to durability with four Chromebooks it announced today. Specifically, the kid-focused laptops’ keyboards are designed to be hard to damage.

The Chromebook 512 (C852), Chromebook 511 (C734/C734T), Chromebook 314 (C934/C934T), and Chromebook Spin 311 (R722T/R723T) join Acer’s education-focused machines with keyboards featuring “mechanically anchored keys.” According to the company, that makes it difficult for users—especially curious young students—to rip keys out of the laptops, while still offering keyboards that are easy to repair or replace.

Diagram of the ridge.

Diagram of the ridge. (credit: Acer)

An Acer spokesperson further explained the keyboard to Ars, saying that a ridge under each key makes it difficult for fingers to get under and pop it out.

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#acer, #chromebook, #tech

Google urges developers to adapt Android apps for Chromebooks

Google Play Store on Chrome OS.

Enlarge / Google is putting more emphasis on Android apps on Chromebooks. (credit: Google)

The number of people using Android Apps on Chromebooks grew 50 percent year over year, according to a blog post from Chrome OS product managers Fahd Imtiaz and Sanj Nathwani this week. The execs cited internal Google data recorded from 2020-2021.

In 2021, as some smartphones moved to Android 12, Google worked on updating Chromebooks to support Android 11, while attempting to boost security and performance by bringing Android on Chrome OS to a virtual machine, rather than a container. The company also improved its general usability, using runtime improvements to make the resizing and scaling of Android apps on Chromebooks work better, as well as app rendering.

As the developer-focused blog noted, Chromebooks on Chrome OS 93 or newer (the latest is Chrome OS 96) automatically run Android apps made for mobile devices in a window that’s set to stay in a “phone or tablet orientation.” And, yes, you can turn this feature off.

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#android, #chrome-os, #chromebook, #google, #tech

Android on Chromebook may be responsible for Chrome OS startup sluggishness

Android on Chromebook may be responsible for Chrome OS startup sluggishness

Enlarge (credit: Getty)

Upon startup, some Chromebooks take a while to fully respond to user inputs. It may sound like a small problem, but that sluggishness is part of what makes Chromebooks feel like a step down from other types of machines. But according to a commit spotted on the Chromium Gerrit this week by About Chromebooks, Google is working on a fix.

The unresponsiveness is at least partially due to the virtual machine used to run Android apps on Chrome OS laptops (though the limited memory in many Chromebooks could also contribute to the problem). It seems that the Android Runtime for Chrome Virtual Machine (ARCVM) can hog the Chromebook’s CPU when you first log in. The commit blames ARCVM for eating up to 300 percent (three cores times 100 percent) of the processor’s resources “for several minutes.”

According to the commit, ARCVM “continuously consumes [the Chromebook’s] CPU for several minutes on user login before user has even launched any Android app or playstore [sic].”

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#chrome-os, #chromebook, #google, #tech

Chrome OS update turns Chromebooks into scanners

Chrome OS update turns Chromebooks into scanners

(credit: Valentina Palladino)

Chromebook cameras just learned some new tricks, as Google started pushing out Chrome OS 96 on Tuesday. As detailed by a Google blog post, the update brings the ability to use your camera to scan images and convert them into PDFs or JPEGs.

If your Chromebook has a webcam and front-facing camera, as the HP Chromebook x2 does, you can use the feature with both cameras. Chrome OS Software Director Alexander Kuscher explained how: “Open the Camera app and select ‘Scan’ mode. When you hold out the document you want to scan in front of the camera, the edges will be automatically detected.” 

You can share the resulting file through the standard mediums, like email. You can also distribute the scanned document to other Chromebooks and Android devices via Nearby Share. Similar to Apple AirDrop, Nearby Share lets you quickly send data through Bluetooth, WebRTC, or peer-to-peer Wi-Fi. Google first brought Nearby Share to Chromebooks this June.

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#chrome-os, #chromebook, #google, #tech

HP Chromebook x2 review: A price cut away from great

HP Chromebook x2 11-inch two-in-one.

Enlarge / HP Chromebook x2 11-inch two-in-one.

For tech enthusiasts, Chromebooks can be an acquired taste. Advanced users don’t need a stripped-down operating system, and the low computing power generally disqualifies Chromebooks from being a serious, primary PC. But Chromebooks can often find a welcome spot in an enthusiast’s home as a secondary or (after the phone) tertiary device. And when that Chromebook comes in a detachable form factor with a screen that’s slightly larger than most competitors, it fits that role well.

The HP Chromebook x2 two-in-one makes a play for this space with an 11-inch display that offers more screen area than rivals like the 10.1-inch Lenovo Chromebook Duet, the 10.5-inch Microsoft Surface Go 3, or even similarly priced iPads. HP’s portable, bendable (and did we mention blue?) Chromebook is ripe for travel and less intensive tasks.

Specs at a glance: HP Chromebook x2
Worst Best As reviewed
Screen 11-inch 2160×1440 IPS touchscreen
OS Chrome OS
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Compute Platform
RAM 4GB LPDDR4x-2133 8GB LPDDR4x-2133
Storage 64GB eMMC 128GB eMMC 64GB eMMC
GPU Qualcomm Adreno 618 (integrated)
Networking Qualcomm Atheros 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2×2) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5
Ports 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type-C), 1x microSD card reader
Size 9.9×7×0.3 inches (252.5×176.8×7.6 mm)
Weight With keyboard and kickstand: 1.2 lb; Tablet only: 1 lb
Battery 32 Wh
Warranty 1 year
Price (MSRP) $570 $680 $600
Other perks HP Rechargeable USI Pen 4G LTE HP Rechargeable USI Pen

Despite an MSRP of $600-$680, depending on the configuration, I’ve seen the HP Chromebook x2 at more appropriate sale prices of $370$400, or $480. Considering its level of power, its touchpad that demands a hard surface, and a keyboard cover that feels like a temporary solution, you’ll want to wait for that discount.

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#ars-shopping, #chromebook, #detachable, #features, #gadgetology, #hp, #hp-chromebook-x2, #tech

LG is apparently working on its first Chromebook

LG is apparently working on its first Chromebook

Enlarge (credit: LG)

The market for Chromebooks is generally growing this year despite recent pandemic-related slowdowns, and it looks like more PC vendors are interested in releasing Chrome OS devices. The next in line may be LG.

On October 18, a filing was listed with the Bluetooth SIG, the special interest group that awards Bluetooth certifications, for an “LG Chromebook.” The listing, spotted by Chrome Unboxed, doesn’t give us much further information. The device’s model number is “11TC50Q,” and the machine should have some version of Bluetooth 5.

Without any official word from LG, we can’t be sure that the product exists. But since the company went through the effort of getting Bluetooth certification from Bluetooth SIG, an LG-branded Chromebook is far from a pipe dream. Plus, it would make sense for LG to release a Chromebook.

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#chrome-os, #chromebook, #lg, #lg-gram, #tech

You may soon be able to answer phone calls on your Chromebook

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, on white background

Enlarge / Samsung Galaxy Chromebook. (credit: Samsung)

Chromebooks, which are powered by Chrome OS, are generally viewed as a simpler alternative to Windows and macOS systems. But as more Chromebooks flirt with four-figure price tags—take, for example, the Asus Chromebook Flip C436, Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, and recently announced Acer Chromebook Spin 514—consumers will start to demand at least a little more functionality. To that end, a feature being worked on in Chromium’s open source code reviews tool would give Chromebooks an ability that Windows and macOS machines already have.

Based on an “add feature” flag spotted in the Chromium Gerrit by Chrome Unboxed, you might soon be able to answer phone calls on your Chromebook through its Phone Hub feature. The description for the flag, made to “enable the Incoming/Ongoing call notification feature,” says that it “enables the incoming/ongoing call feature in Phone Hub.”

Currently, you can use Phone Hub to view your Android phone’s notifications and recently used Chrome tabs and send and receive text messages. The ability to answer phone calls would give you one less reason to pick up your phone. Windows users with Android devices already have this option via Your Phone, and macOS users with iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches have the same ability with the Continuity feature.

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#android, #chrome-os, #chromebook, #google, #smartphones, #tech

New Acer Chromebooks boast 11th-Gen Intel CPUs for up to $900

2 Acer Chromebook Spin 514 convertibles on white background

Enlarge / Acer Chromebook Spin 514. (credit: Acer)

Acer is releasing half a dozen new Chromebook SKUs, it announced today during its Next@Acer event. The company is updating its lineup with options for Intel’s latest 11th Gen “Tiger Lake” CPUs, and although the list includes some of the standard cheaper Chromebook options, Acer also introduced some pricier selections boasting fanless designs for quieter operation.

Fanless two-in-one Chromebooks

The Acer Chromebook Spin 514 and Chromebook Spin Enterprise 514 are the highest-end options. They’re more expensive than the average Chromebook (Acer’s current offerings go as low as $190), with the standard version costing $700 when it comes out in January and the business-focused version priced at $900 for a December release.

The upcoming two-in-ones (laptops that can convert into tablets) ditch the fans to reduce noise, and that likely helps keep them thin as well. Each machine is 0.68 inches (166.9 mm) thick and weighs 3.02 pounds (1.37 kg).

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#acer, #chromebook, #laptops, #tech

Chromebook demand is plummeting as the pandemic eases

The 2020 Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, which had a 4K OLED display.

Enlarge / The 2020 Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, which had a 4K OLED display. (credit: Samsung)

A global deceleration of laptop sales is being linked in a new report from market research firm Trendforce to increasing vaccination rates and a corresponding decrease in remote work and remote learning. According to the findings, demand for Chromebooks slid by over 50 percent during one month since July. And notebook shipments for the remainder of the year are expected to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the shifting demand from businesses.

Trendforce said that interest for ChromeOS-powered laptops within the last year had primarily been driven by remote learning. The analyst pointed to rising vaccination rates in North America, Europe, and Japan throughout the second half of 2021 as recently slowing demand for Chromebooks.

After being a “primary driver” of overall laptop shipments in the first half of 2021, Chromebook shipments dropped by over 50 percent during one month in the second half of the year. And because Chromebooks represent a “relatively high share” of HP’s and Samsung’s overall laptop shipments, the OEMs’ shipments are predicted to fall by 10 to 20 percent from the first half of the year to the second half.

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#chromebook, #hp, #laptops, #samsung, #tech

Microsoft is discontinuing its Office apps for Chromebook users in favor of web versions 

Since 2017, Microsoft has offered its Office suite to Chromebook users via the Google Play store, but that is set to come to an end in a few short weeks.

As of September 18, Microsoft is discontinuing support for Office (which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook) on Chromebook. Microsoft is not, however, abandoning the popular mobile device altogether. Instead of an app that is downloaded, Microsoft is encouraging users to go to the web instead.

“In an effort to provide the most optimized experience for Chromebook customers, Microsoft apps (Office and Outlook) will be transitioned to web experiences ( and on September 18, 2021,” Microsoft wrote in a statement emailed to TechCrunch. 

Microsoft’s statement also noted that “this transition brings Chromebook customers access to additional and premium features.” 

The Microsoft web experience will serve to transition its base of Chromebook users to the Microsoft 365 service, which provides more Office templates and generally more functionality than what the app-based approach provides. The web approach is also more optimized for larger screens than the app.

In terms of how Microsoft wants Chromebook users to get access to Office and Outlook, the plan is for customers to, “…sign in with their personal Microsoft Account or account associated with their Microsoft 365 subscription,” according to the statement. Microsoft has also provided online documentation to show users how to run Office on a Chromebook.

Chromebooks run on Google’s Chrome OS, which is a Linux-based operating system. Chromebooks also enable Android apps to run, as Android is also Linux based, with apps downloaded from Google Play. It’s important to note that while support for Chromebooks is going away, Microsoft is not abandoning other Android-based mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones.

For those Chromebook users that have already downloaded the Microsoft Office apps, the apps will continue to function after September 18, though they will not receive any support or future updates.

#android, #chrome-os, #chromebook, #cloud, #enterprise, #google-play-store, #laptops, #microsoft, #microsoft-365, #microsoft-office, #mobile-devices, #operating-systems, #outlook-com

Another banner quarter as Chromebook shipments grow 75% YOY

Last quarter, Chromebooks saw 275% year-over-year growth up to 12 million units. The figure isn’t quite as unwieldy for Q2, but a 75% year-over-year growth is still extremely respectable, with the category hitting 11.9 million shipments, per the latest figures from research firm, Canalys.

Chromebooks joined the rest of the PC market in getting an overall bump from the pandemic. Standard tablets and PCs saw healthy increases as consumers scrambled to create work from home setups, while Google’s OS got an even larger rise as schools implemented remote learning.

As schools in a number of locations have reopened more than a year into the pandemic, however, Chromebook sales are still hot. Google is certainly looking to capitalize on that success by once again attempting to extend the operating system’s reach beyond its educational foothold.

The company is clearly eyeing the enterprise segment, which may be welcoming of systems that are both easy to deploy and lock down.

Image Credits: Canalys

“With Chrome’s hold over the education space relatively secure, Google is set to bet big on the commercial segment this year,” Canalys’ Brian Lynch said in a statement. We expect to see a strong focus on attracting small businesses with updated services, such as the new ‘Individual’ subscription tier for Google Workspace and promotions on CloudReady licenses to repurpose old PCs for deployment alongside existing Chromebook fleets.”

After the launch of multiple M1-based systems, Apple, too, is making a big play for business. The company recently launched a new Apple at Work site.

“Whether your organization has 10 devices or 10,000, Apple fits easily into your existing infrastructure,” the company writes of its new IT efforts. “Zero-touch deployment allows IT to configure and manage remotely, and IT can tailor the setup process to any team. So every Mac, iPad, iPhone and Apple TV is ready to go from the start.”

With Windows 11 arriving later this year, Microsoft will no doubt be making its own case to maintain dominance over the office — remote and otherwise.

#canalys, #chromebook, #chromebooks, #chromeos, #google, #hardware

Google reveals a slate of Chromebook docks as it pushes to appeal to enterprise users

Chromebooks have been having banner quarter after banner quarter for the past year. While PC and tablet sales in general have been doing well as people shifted to remote working and learning, Google’s operating system has been leading the charge, in terms of the growth. That’s due in large part to the company’s wins in education.

With an extremely solid foothold in that category, Google is pushing to make a big play in enterprise — a category traditionally dominated by Microsoft (and, to a lesser degree, Apple). Today the company is announcing the launch of a new series of docks as part of the Works With Chromebook certification program it launched last year.

Launch partners including Targus, Belkin, Acer and Hyper. The hope is pretty clear: making the traditionally limited hardware more capable for a work setting. There are two different types of docks — one designed for remote working and the other for office/enterprise. Per Google:

Employees can benefit from two types of docks: larger docks capable of extending up to 3 external displays via HDMI, DP or USB-C, and smaller docks that extend to one external HDMI display for those in need of a more compact, travel-friendly docking solution.

More details are forthcoming from the third parties, which will be releasing the devices “in the coming months.” The Hyper system (pictured at top of the post), for instance, launches in August for $240, which put it around as much as some Chromebooks.

Among the upshots are the fact that these will also be compatible with PCs and Macs, to some degree — an upshot for enterprise buyers.


#chrome, #chromebook, #google, #hardware

The world’s second-most popular desktop operating system isn’t macOS anymore

Market share chart

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

For ages now, every annual report on desktop operating system market share has had the same top two contenders: Microsoft’s Windows in a commanding lead at number one and Apple’s macOS in distant second place. But in 2020, Chrome OS became the second-most popular OS, and Apple fell to third.

That’s according to numbers from market data firm IDC and a report on IDC’s data by publication GeekWire. Chrome OS had passed macOS briefly in individual quarters before, but 2020 was the first full year when Apple’s OS took third place.

Despite the fact that macOS landed in third, viewing this as an example of Google beating out Apple directly might not be accurate. Rather, it’s likely that Chrome OS has been primarily pulling sales and market share away from Windows at the low end of the market. Mac market share actually grew from 6.7 percent in 2019 to 7.5 percent in 2020.

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#chromebook, #chromeos, #mac, #macos, #pc, #tech, #windows

Samsung simplifies with a lower-price premium Chromebook

Happy almost CES! Sure the year’s biggest consumer electronics show hasn’t officially kicked off, but, well, what do such arbitrary signposts really mean in a year like 2021, right? Samsung just dropped what’s almost certainly one of its biggest pieces of news for the show, with the arrival of the Galaxy Chromebook 2.

The two-in-one follows almost a year to a day after the announcement of the original. It appears to share a fair bit of the charm of its predecessor, but notably has a much improvement price point. This time out the Chrome OS powered portable starts at a far more reasonable $549 – down from $999.

Image Credits: Samsung

Mind you, that’s for the one running a 10th gen Intel Celeron processor. If you want the Core i3, that starts at $699. It’s a bit of a jump, but a better starting point for users looking at the product as day-to-day machine. And besides, it’s still significantly less expensive than the original. Keep in mind here that last year’s model started with an i5 – which is to say the price drop comes with a bit of a processor downgrade.

Battery life was an issue on the original and is still a bit of a question here. The device now sports a QLED display (which Samsung claims is “world’s first” for a Chromebook), rather than the original’s 4K AMOLED, which could go a ways toward improving longevity.

The changes between the first and second gen product are a pretty clear indicator that companies are still trying to figure out precisely what a “premium Chromebook” entails. After all, it wasn’t all that long ago that the phrase was a bit of an oxymoron. The company’s computing GM Shoneel Kolhatkar sums up the general though process here pretty well in the associated press announcement,

Many kids grew up using Chromebooks in school, and as they enter the workforce, their needs evolve, they’re looking for premium, powerful hardware that can elevate that intuitive Google experience. We designed the Galaxy Chromebook 2 with these users in mind, taking the popular features from Galaxy Chromebook—incredible visuals, great specs, and gorgeous design and color—and bringing them to a wider base of customers.

In a sense, Samsung is taking a similar journey as the one Google made from the Pixelbook to the Pixelbook Go. And with Google pretty quiet on that front for the moment, there’s a decent sized market opening for Samsung here.

The Galaxy Chromebook 2 arrives later this quarter, sporting a 13.3 inch display, 4/8GB of RAM and 64/128GB of storage. And yes, it still comes in “Fiesta Red” or gray, if you prefer.

#ces-2021, #chrome-os, #chromebook, #hardware, #samsung

Dell’s latest Chromebook blends enterprise security with premium specs

The latest Dell Chromebook is designed for the at-home worker who still needs to connect to corporate systems. The Latitude 7410 Chromebook Enterprise boasts some of the best spec available on any Chromebook and comes loaded with Dell’s enterprise platform that allows remote management by IT departments. All of this comes at a price. The 7410 is expensive.

The 7410 has a 14-inch 4K screen along with LTE mobile broadband, Intel WiFi 6, and a 10th generation Intel Core i7 CPU. Dell says the battery life is good for up to 21 hours, and the notebook can go from 0% to 35% in as little as 20 minutes. There are two USB-C ports, two full-size USB ports, and SD card slot and an HDMI output. It’s available in a conventional clamshell laptop design or a 2-in-1 convertible tablet.

This is the latest in Dell’s growing line of enterprises-focused Chromebooks and the most significant unit to date. Once relegated to just consumer or education use, Chromebooks are gaining traction in enterprise environments. Companies like Dell roll out IT management software that allows Chrome OS to work within a corporation’s environment. The 7410 is seemingly a significant step forward for Chrome OS as it combines the same level as computing power with IT management as the company offers in its Windows-based laptops.

Some models of the 7410 are available now, starting at $1,299. A Core i3 version is slated for a later release and will carry a $1,099 price tag.

#chromebook, #dell, #tc

Minecraft: Education Edition comes to Chromebooks

Microsoft today announced that Minecraft: Education Edition is now available on Chromebooks.

Now, if you were hoping that this means that the standard Minecraft game is now available on Chromebooks, too, I’m afraid I’ll have to disappoint you. The Education Edition not only requires a Microsoft 365 for Education (A3 or A5) license, it’s also meant to more of an educational tool than a game, with lessons that focus on math, science, language arts, history and visual arts.

The company says that it is partnering with the Google Education team to welcome educations on Chromebooks to Minecraft.

The Chromebook version will offer the same set of features as Minecraft: Education Edition on Windows, Mac and iOS, including cross-platform multiplayer support. For now, students will need a Microsoft account to log in, though the company says support for logging in with Google accounts is coming “in the near future.”

Image Credits: Microsoft

“Minecraft: Education Edition is a game-based learning platform that helps build key 21st century skills like coding and creative problem solving,” Microsoft explains in today’s announcement. “Hundreds of free standards-aligned lessons, design challenges, and STEM curriculum are available in-game and online, along with flexible templates for teachers to design their own learning activities. In a time when staying connected to the classroom is of extra importance, Minecraft supports collaboration and meaningful student-led learning.”

The Minecraft: Education Edition is now available in Google’s Play Store for users with the right licenses. Despite a clear warning that it takes an Office 365 Education account to log in, you’ll see plenty of one-star reviews from disappointed players who think it’s the regular Minecraft. With the right Chromebook, though, these players could always play Minecraft for Android on Chrome OS, too.

#android, #chrome-os, #chromebook, #education, #microsoft, #microsoft-windows, #minecraft, #software, #tc, #video-games

Hands-on: The $300 Kano PC, a “build-it-yourself” Chromebook competitor

This almost fully-assembled shot of the Kano PC lacks only the back cover and the magnetically-connected folio case with keyboard and touchpad.

Enlarge / This almost fully-assembled shot of the Kano PC lacks only the back cover and the magnetically-connected folio case with keyboard and touchpad. (credit: Jim Salter)

Specs at a glance: Kano PC
OS Windows 10 Home
CPU Intel Celeron N4000
RAM 4GiB DDR3L (not upgradeable)
GPU Integrated Intel UHD600
HDD Foresee 64GB eMMC (not upgradeable)
Display 11.6″ touchscreen at 1366×768
Ports 1 USB-C (charging)
2 USB3 type A
1 microSD card slot
1 2.5mm headphone jack
Cooling Passive heat sink
Charging USB-C (charger included)
Connectivity Dual-band Wi-Fi 5 + Bluetooth 5.0 (Intel Wireless-AC 9650)
Price as tested $300

Last week, we covered the launch of Kano’s new Windows-powered build-it-yourself PC. The Kano PC is an extremely chunky 11.6″ tablet/laptop form factor PC with both specs and a $300 price similar to low-end Chromebooks—but instead of running ChromeOS, it offers a full Windows 10 experience.

This isn’t our first rodeo with extremely low-cost PCs, which sometimes disappoint us beyond the level their meager specs imply. With a dual-core, 1.1GHz Celeron CPU, 4GiB of RAM, and eMMC storage, it’s clear enough on paper that the Kano PC won’t be anybody’s first choice for a “serious laptop”—but the real question is whether it credibly competes with similarly specified Chromebooks. The answer is “absolutely.”

Our only real issue with the Kano PC has nothing to do with performance but with the extremely funky form factor, which both raises and answers the question: “What if tablet, but 2.5 times thicker and heavier?”

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#budget-laptop, #chromebook, #educational, #features, #kano-pc, #laptop, #tablet, #tech, #windows-10

Pinebook Pro review—a $200 FOSS-to-the-hilt magnesium-chassis laptop

pinebook pro next to dell xps 13

Enlarge / GENTLEFOLK, BEHOLD! From left to right: the Pine64 welcome letter, a Dell XPS 13 DE provided for scale, and the Pinebook Pro (controversial lockblade knife not included). (credit: Jim Salter)

In early March of this year, I ordered one of the FOSS-driven Pine64 project’s newest designs—the Pinebook Pro. The company’s manufacturing efforts have taken an enormous hit due to the impact of COVID-19 on its Chinese manufacturing partners, which kept me from receiving my Pinebook Pro until last week.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 didn’t merely slow down production. It also made QA impossible, which led to enough problems with my new laptop that it’s going to need to be replaced. We’ll talk about why that is in much greater detail later, but for right now, keep in mind that some parts of my experience aren’t as-designed for the hardware.

You should also keep in mind that the Pinebook isn’t exactly a consumer product—it’s a device aimed squarely at hobbyists and tinkerers with offbeat plans and limited budget. Most people will not want to replace their standard consumer laptop or Chromebook with a Pinebook Pro—but it’s a fascinating look at what’s possible in inexpensive hardware design with an intense focus on privacy, open source design, and community.

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#arm, #chromebook, #laptop, #linux, #linux-on-laptops, #pinebook, #tech, #uncategorized

We put the paper back into a ChromeOS paperless office

A little less than $350 buys you a solid color laser printer, scanner, and fax machine that works flawlessly with Android and ChromeOS devices.

Enlarge / A little less than $350 buys you a solid color laser printer, scanner, and fax machine that works flawlessly with Android and ChromeOS devices. (credit: Jim Salter)

With social distancing and isolation, many of us are having to find ways to do more with less—in terms of equipment and technical support, as much as anything else. Today, we’re going to take a look at one success story in a less-traveled but suddenly very relevant workflow—scanning and printing with a ChromeOS device.

Enter the Chromebox

Chromeboxes are just like the Chromebooks that American schools have almost unanimously adopted as student computers. They’re simple, low-powered devices that run ChromeOS—which doesn’t look much like an “operating system” at all to the user. The only difference is that, while a Chromebook is a laptop form factor, a Chromebox is a tiny standalone PC which can be bolted right to the back of a standard monitor.

For people who do most of their work online, ChromeOS devices are great—they’re inexpensive, they cold boot in seconds, and they manage all of their own software updates. They’re also nearly impossible to get infested with malware. The worst “malware” problems I’ve ever seen on a ChromeOS device are spammy browser notifications, caused by a user clicking “allow” when some ad banner requests the privilege.

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#chromebook, #chromebox, #chromeos, #tech

Labster’s latest partnership, and what it tells us about the future of remote learning

Labster, a virtual science lab edtech company, today announced that it is partnering with California’s community college network to bring its software to 2.1 million students.

California Community Colleges claims to be the largest system of higher education in the country. The Labster partnership will provide 115 schools with 130 virtual laboratory simulations in biology, chemistry, physics and general sciences.

As COVID-19 has forced schools to shutter, edtech companies have largely responded by offering their software for free or through extended free trials. What’s new and notable about Labster’s partnership today is that it shows the first few signs of how that momentum can lead to a business deal.

Based in Copenhagen, Labster sells virtual STEM labs to institutions. The startup has raised $34.7 million in known venture capital to date, according to Crunchbase data. Labster customers include California State University, Harvard, Gwinnett Technical College, MIT, Trinity College and Stanford.

Lab equipment is expensive, and budget constraints mean that schools struggle to afford the latest technology. So Labster’s value proposition is that it is a cheaper alternative (plus, if students spill a testing vial in a virtual lab, there’s less clean up).

That pitch has slightly changed since COVID-19 forced schools across the world to shut down to limit the spread of the pandemic. Now, it’s pitching itself as the only currently viable alternative to science labs.

For many edtech companies, the surge of remote learning has been a large experiment. Often, edtech companies are giving away their product and technology for free to help as schools scramble to move operations completely digital.

For example, last week self-serve learning platforms Codecademy, Duolingo, Quizlet, Skillshare and Brainly launched a Learn From Home Club for students and teachers. Before that, Wize made its exam content and homework services available for free. And Zoom offered its video-conferencing software for free to K through 12 schools, which had mixed results.

Labster itself gave $5 million in free Labster credits to schools across the country. The list continues.  

Labster’s new deal shows edtech companies can secure new customers right now — without breaking the bank.

Labster CEO and co-founder Michael Bodekaer declined to give specifics on what the deal is worth. He did share that Labster works with schools one by one to understand how much they can, or want to, invest in teacher training and webinar support. He also confirmed that Labster does profit from the deal.

“We want to make sure that we set ourselves up for supporting our partners but still also make sure that Labster as a financial institution can pay our salaries,” Bodekaer said. “But again, heavy discounts that help us cover our costs.”

The long game for Labster, like many edtech companies, is that schools like the platform so much that these short-term stints have a better chance to lead to long-term relationships.

“We’ll be keeping these discounts as long as we possibly can sustain as a company,” he said. “It looks like initially the discount was until August and now we’re extending it until the end of the year. If that continues, we may extend it even further.”

Pricing aside, the real struggle toward implementation for Labster, and honestly any other edtech company focused on remote learning, is the digital divide. Some students do not have access to a computer for video conferencing or even internet connection for assignments.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how many households across America lack access to the technology needed for remote learning. In California, Google donated free Chromebooks and 100,000 mobile hotspots to students in need.

Bodekaer said that Labster is currently working on providing its software on mobile, and has worked with Google to make sure its product works on low-end computers like Chromebooks.

“We really want to be hardware agnostic and support any system or any platform that the students already have,” he said. “So that hardware does not become a barrier.”

While today’s partnership brings 2.1 million students access to Labster’s technology, it does not directly account for the percentage of that same group that might not have access to a computer in the first place. The true test, and perhaps success, of edtech will rely on a true hybrid of hardware and software, not one or the other.

#america, #california, #chrome-os, #chromebook, #copenhagen, #duolingo, #edtech, #education, #google, #harvard, #labster, #mit, #skillshare, #stanford, #startups, #tc, #teacher, #technology

Google said to be preparing its own chips for use in Pixel phones and Chromebooks

Google is reportedly on the verge of stepping up their hardware game in a way that follows the example set by Apple, with custom-designed silicon powering future smartphones. Axios reports that Google is readying its own in-house processors for use in future Pixel devices, including both phones and eventually Chromebooks, too.

Google’s efforts around its own first-party hardware have been somewhat of a mixed success, with some generations of Pixel smartphone earning high praise, including for its work around camera software and photo processing. But it has used standard Qualcomm processors to date, whereas Apple has long designed its own custom processor (the A-series) for its iPhone, providing the Mac-maker an edge when it comes to performance tailor-made for its OS and applications.

The Axios report says that Google’s in-house chip is code-named ‘Whitechapel,’ and that it was made in collaboration with Samsung and uses that company’s 5-nanometer process. It includes an 8-core ARM-based processor, as well as dedicated on-chip resources for machine learning and Google Assistant.

Google has already taken delivery of the first working prototypes of this processor, but it’s said to be at least a year before they’ll be used in actual shipping Pixel phones, which means we likely have at least one more generation of Pixel that will include a third-party processor. The report says that this will eventually make its way to Chromebooks, too, if all goes to plan, but that that will take longer.

Rumors have circulated for years now that Apple would eventually move its own Mac line to in-house, ARM-based processors, especially as the power and performance capabilities of its A-series chips has scaled and surpassed those of its Intel equivalents. ARM-based Chromebooks already exist, so that could make for an easier transition on the Google side – provided the Google chips can live up to expectations.

#apple, #assistant, #chrome-os, #chromebook, #computers, #computing, #gadgets, #google, #hardware, #intel, #iphone, #laptops, #mac, #machine-learning, #photo-processing, #pixel, #qualcomm, #samsung, #smartphone, #smartphones, #tc