While HP's Pavilion Chromebook is effectively one of Google's low-spec PCs cased in the usual Pavilion stylings, the message to Microsoft is clear, 'You aren't the only game in town.' And with Chromebook sales on the rise, it could be a smart move as Google's OS gains momentum.
Shiny New Chrome
I use a regular-flavor Windows HP Pavilion notebook and have been quite taken by the slim keyboard design and solid feel of the case. Yes, its a budget box, but reassuringly so. Now, Chrome fans are in for a similar treat with the arrival of Google's Chrome OS inside one of these popular shiny Pavilion boxes.
Going up against Samsung and Acer models, the specification is broadly similar with a ancient sounding 1.1GHz Intel Celeron CPU and 2GB of RAM. However, with Google's Chrome OS sparse requirements, that is more then enough to run the huge amount of web apps, services and games it offers, and paired with a decent 1,366 x 768 14" display, it is a little bigger than most rivals.
Users get 16GB of flash storage, plus Google Drive storage for its cloud-friendly approach (some 100GB, free for two years). There's also a decent array of connections, with HDMI out, USB 2.0, Ethernet and a card reader slot for more storage. There doesn't appear to be a color option as with most Pavilions, so hope you like black.
The machine retails for $329.99 ($80 less than a similar-sized, but more-powerful, Windows 8 Pavilion) and is available from HP Direct now and stores soon. Yes the extra size makes it a little heavier, but HP's build and the extra screen size might be a couple of ticks worth considering if you're in the market.
Power and Politics
After the alleged bad blood between Microsoft and hardware makers after the Windows 8 and Surface launch, this seems like a decent business move by HP to test the waters of the Chromebook market, and to make a gentle point to Microsoft. With the education sector particularly looking at Chromebooks, this could soon be a big business.
Recent comments from Acer suggest that Chromebooks make up 5% to 10% of its business since the latest models arrived late last year. HP would be delighted if it could achieve similar numbers, to give it more leverage in any future Microsoft dealings. But, as ever, competition is fierce and with slim margins, and Samsung and Lenovo also in this market, don't expect it to explode beyond
Chromebooks, Chrome OS and the whole Google eco-system are picking up momentum, and after the stuttering start a couple of years back, its perhaps now an idea whose time has come. So, maybe all those thin-client proponents back in the 90s were just a decade or so too early.