Acer is offering the 11.6-inch Acer Cromia AC700 Chromebook (Wi-Fi version, $350) and Samsung the 12,1-inch Samsung Series 5 (Wi-Fi version, $450)
Chromebooks are are actually web-centric PCs, based on an operating system - essentially Chrome web browser - that steers users to use applications like email and spreadsheets directly on the web, instead of storing software such as Outlook or Word directly on PCs.
The average out-of-the-box laptop starts up in 45 seconds. By contrast, the Series 5 starts up in less than ten seconds. When waking from sleep, a user simply opens the lid, and it's ready to go.
Chromebooks do not run traditional PC software. They run web-based applications, or web apps, that open right in the browser. For example, Google Docs lets you do word processing, spreadsheets and presentations online. You can access web apps by typing their URL into the address bar, or by installing them instantly from the Chrome Web Store.
Every Chromebook runs web apps, from games to spreadsheets to photo editors. Thanks to the power of HTML5, many apps keep working even in those rare moments when you're not connected.
In the near future, Chromebook users will be also able to run traditional software remotely on Google Chrome notebooks. Companies like Citrix are developing solutions that will be available in the Web Store, and Google is developing a free service called Chromoting that will enable Chrome notebook users to remotely access their existing PCs and Macs.
Chromebooks also run the first consumer operating system designed from the ground up to defend against the ongoing threat of malware and viruses. They employ the principle of "defense in depth" to provide multiple layers of protection, including sandboxing, data encryption, and verified boot.
Chromebooks manage updates for you automatically so you are always running the latest and most secure version.
On your Chromebook, each web page and application you visit runs in a restricted environment called a "sandbox." So if you visit an infected page, it can't affect the other tabs or apps on your computer, or anything else on your machine. The threat is contained.
When you use web apps on your Chromebook, all your documents are stored in the cloud. But certain kinds of files, like downloads, cookies, and browser cache files, may still be present on your computer. Your Chromebook encrypts all this data using tamper-resistant hardware, making it very difficult for anyone to access those files.
If anything goes wrong with your Chromebook you can simply push a button to enter the hardware-backed recovery mode and restore the operating system to a known good version.
With Guest Mode, you can let friends use your Chromebook without signing in. They can use the web freely, but they won't be able to access your email or other data. And once they sign off, all their browsing data is permanently erased from your computer.
The Chromebook has also reduced concerns about security and data loss by moving everything to the cloud. If the Chromebook is ever broken or lost, all of your files are saved online.