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Recent Chromebooks have been high-end affairs to attract the technorati, but HP's latest offering is firmly at the budget, experimental or student crowd with a modest specification and fun looks for under $280. 

 The Chrome Army Grows

Available today in the United States and United Kingdom, Google's new Chromebook 11 devices from HP bring the bar down on price for those tempted by the near-always-cloud world offered by Google and a non-Windows computing experience. And for those still concerned about an all-cloud computing life, recent improvements in offline Chrome apps should help calm those fears. Wide availability from most electronic retailers should give the brand a big push as the holiday selling season arrives. 

Weighing in at just $279 and 2.3lbs, the new Chromebooks have some neat color stylings, a solid magnesium design and no fans for silent running. It offers enough power for your usual computing tasks, plus 100GB of free cloud storage for two years. The full specs run to an Exynos 5250 GAIA Application Processor, which if memory serves is a dual-core chip, usually found in tablets. There's 2GB of on-board DDR3 memory and a 16GB Solid State Drive for local and offline storage.

The screen isn't anywhere near the ($1,000+) Chromebook Pixel model, but still offers an 11.6" IPS display running at 1366 x 768 resolution and a wide 176-degree viewing angle. Facing out are two USB 2.0 ports, a webcam, micro-USB charging (which seems to be a big feature among those discussing the news) and a micro-SIM card for the 3G/4G models if you want to be truly mobile. 

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Chrome Now An Option?

With Windows 8 still putting some people off, does this new option in the Chromebook arsenal make it any more attractive to users? The pricing is certainly there in the 'worth a shot' bracket, and with Chrome OS now maturing, and the brand getting a boost with the Chromecast TV dongle, there seems to be less fear of this strange new world. 

We're wondering how long before these devices are called the Google Nexus Chromebooks to tie in with the massive-selling Nexus phone and tablet ranges. That would give it a better opportunity at facing Windows 8 devices and MacBooks in the consumer marketplace. The new models comes with a 60-trial of Google Play to get folks into that ecosystem plus links to Google Drive, Gmail and other services for that all-Google feel. 

However, Google's slow and sure approach to device and OS/browser evolution sees it playing a clever long game against competitors trying to sell very expensive products that could soon be affected, as the smartphone and tablet markets have been by commoditized products for the mass market that don't need hefty Windows or OS X operating systems, for all their clever tricks.