By Ben Bowers
on 5.12.11

The name ChromeBook sounds like something Lil’ Wayne reads in bed, but it’s actually the brand Google has devised for a new breed of internet-addicted laptops. Built to be cheap and speedy, they won’t replace the MacBooks or Dell’s of this world, but Google clearly envisions a future where they’re the go to device for basic online tasks like word processing, web-surfing, and email. The Samsung Series 5 ChromeBook ($429-$500) is ultra-thin at 0.79-inches thick, weighs 3.26 pounds and features a 12.1-inch, 1280 x 800 screen, so it’s certainly portable. Internals include a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N570 chip, a 1 MP webcam, a 16GB mSATA solid state drive, an SDXC card reader, two USB 2.0 ports, a clickable track pad and an optional global 3G card. Obviously those specs won’t blow you away, but for a price tag of $429-$499, it’s a reasonable set of features on par with the fad-fueled netbooks of yore. Especially when you consider the 3G model includes 100MB of Verizon data each month and that neither model requires anti-virus, security, or backup software. Google is also offering a monthly subscription-based price model of $28+ per month for enterprise users and $20+ per month for education clients who need 10 or more and are willing to sign a three year contract.

Editor’s Note: The fate of these niche devices is pretty uncertain at this juncture. The sophistication of web-based applications is rising at an incredible rate, and the software of today and most certainly of tomorrow will be tethered to the cloud. With the Google brain trust behind it, we have no doubts that a browser-based operating system like Chrome could replace OSX or Windows for casual computing — particularly when high-speed 4G internet access becomes ubiquitous. We’re just not quite there yet, and tablets represent some steep competition. Available in either titan silver or white, these new Chromebooks won’t officially hit the market until June 15th.

Buy Now: $429-$499