Tuesday , October 24 2017

Google Announces Chromebooks now on sale in Australia

chrome-australia

After recently advising Ausdroid that they were “looking to bring Chromebooks to more countries very soon”; Google has announced that they will begin selling the Acer C7 and Samsung Series 3 Chromebooks in Australia today, with the HP Pavilion 14 to follow suit soon.

In a blog post by Caesar Sengupta, Product Management Director, Chrome OS, Google advises that they will not be selling Chromebooks via Google Play in Australia as they do in the US – they will instead be available at retail through select Harvey Norman and JB Hi Fi, who will be the exclusive Australian launch partners. Google took a similar approach in the UK in 2011 with the release of their original Chromebook line.

A recent entry on Google’s Chrome blog explains why Google has been looking to make Chromebooks available to new markets:

“The momentum has been remarkable: the Samsung Chromebook has been #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list for laptops every day since it launched 125 days ago in the U.S., and Chromebooks now represent more than 10 percent of notebook sales at Currys PC World, the largest electronics retailer in the U.K.”

Both the Acer and the Samsung Chromebooks will come with 100GB of cloud storage with Google Drive, valid for two years available via redemption. Only the Wi-fi models will be available – the 3G models may become available at a later stage, but these have proven difficult to come by in other markets, so this isn’t surprising.

Samsung Series 3 vs Acer C7

Acer C7
Acer C7
Samsung Chromebook
Samsung Chromebook
Screen 11.6″ 1366×768 HD Display, High Brightness 11.6″ 1366×768 HD Display, Matte
CPU 1.1GHz Celeron CPU 1.7GHz Exynos 5 Dual
RAM 2GB DDR3 2GB DDR3
Storage 320GB 5400RPM Hard Drive 16GB SSD
Web Cam HD Camera VGA Camera
Card Reader 2-in-1 MMC/SD Card Reader SD Card Reader
Ports 3xUSB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, Headphone/microphone jack 1xUSB 3.0, 1xUSB 2.0, 1xHDMI, Headphone/microphone jack
Sound Stereo Internal Speaker Stereo Internal Speaker
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n (2×2), 10/100/1000 Ethernet Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n (2×2), Bluetooth 3.0
Battery 4 Cell, 37Wh Battery Up to 4 hours 2 Cell, 30Wh Battery Up to 6.5 hours
Dimensions 285x202x27.35mm @ 1.38Kg 289.6×208.5×16.8mm @ 1.10Kg
Included in the Box AC Charger, Quick start guide AC Charger, Quick start guide

The selection of the Acer and Samsung Chromebooks indicates a careful entry into the Australian laptop market, occupying price points similar to the “Netbooks” of yesteryear. If these low end models prove popular, we may see an introduction of the newest model – the much sought-after, high end Chromebook Pixel – at a later date.

Australian retailer The Good Guys recently claimed they would be stocking the Pixel in April, however Google has advised that this is incorrect:

“We understand that people’s excitement over the awesome Chromebook Pixel can lead to bouts of wishful thinking, but there’s sadly no truth to this. We’d love to bring the Pixel to more countries, but there’s no timeline for Australia.”

If you’re still anxious to get your hands on a Chromebook Pixel, it appears an import from MobiCity might still be your best bet.

Retailers

Harvey Norman

Ausdroid spoke with Glen Gregory from Harvey Norman, who advised that they will be selling the Acer C7 Chromebook for $299 and the Samsung Chromebook for $349. The Samsung model is expected to be in-store this week, with Acer C7 arriving soon after, within the next week.

Greg also advised that in addition to these models, Harvey Norman will be offering the HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook for $399, launching in the next two weeks.

 

HP Pavilion 14 – $399

devices-selector-hp-pav

Display 14’’ BrightView LED-backlit display (1366 x 768)
CPU 1.1GHz Intel Celeron CPU
RAM 2GB DDR3 RAM(Upgradeable to 4GB)
Storage 16GB SSD
Webcam HP TrueVision HD Webcam with integrated microphone
Card reader Multi-format digital media card reader
Ports 3 USB 2.0; 1 HDMI; 1 RJ45; 1 headphone-out/microphone-in combo
Sound Altec Lansing speakers
Wireless Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth
Battery 4-cell (37WHr) Li-Ion – Up to 4 hours and 15 minutes
Dimensions 34.7×23.8×2.1cm @ 1.79kg

While Harvey Norman has ordered significant stock of all the models, they are adopting a cautious attitude at Google’s recommendation, testing the waters with the lower end models. Harvey Norman will be tagged in all Australian Chromebook advertising from Google, and searches for Chromebooks should lead to the Harvey Norman website.

In preparing for the Australian Chromebook launch, Harvey Norman has put 200 retail staff through an intensive training session on Chrome OS with Google. This will ensure that staff can answer questions regarding the new products, and avoid confusion with consumers over what is actually running on the product.

All three models sold through Harvey Norman will come with a 12 month warranty. The retailer also offers Interest Free Options for sales starting at just $300, with better options available with bundles as the price increases.

Harvey Norman has a Chromebooks section on their site, but it doesn’t appear to be working at the moment (the mobile site works, though). You can still find the devices by searching for ‘chromebook’.

JB Hi Fi

Google has advised that JB Hi Fi will be another of the exclusive Australian Chromebook launch partners.

We approached JB Hi Fi for comment on the release of Chromebooks in Australia hoping for more information on pricing and stock availability in their stores, but they didn’t return our calls.

JB Hi Fi has a Chromebook page on their website, showing the Samsung Series 3 is $246, and the Acer C7 is $298.

Not all JB Hi Fi stores will be stocking Chromebooks – check the store list to find one near you that will. Jason spoke with the Chatswood NSW store on Tuesday morning and was told that they already have the devices in stock.

Manufacturers

Acer

Acer is relatively new to the Chrome OS market – the C7 is their first foray into the arena. We approached Acer Computing Australia about the launch of Chromebooks in Australia and they supplied the following press release:

Acer Computer Australia is excited to announce the Australian release of the Acer Chromebook, an affordable, convenient and powerful computer which utilises the cloud-based Google Chrome Operating System.

The Acer Chromebook has been designed from the ground up for the way we use the web and computers today. As such, it is perfect for families, students and other computer users who spend much of their computing time online, such as shopping, paying bills and keeping up via email and social networks. It’s ultra-bright screen and versatile display ports makes work or play delightful and easier.

Samsung

Samsung has produced the largest number of Chrome OS devices, having released three Chromebooks – including the two currently for sale in the US – as well as three Chromeboxes. The Series 3 Chromebook being released in Australia today is notable for being the first ARM CPU-based model.

We received their official statement on the Australian release of Chromebooks:

Samsung is excited to be launching the new Samsung Chromebook in Australia. The new range will be available from today in select Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi stores for RRP $349.

Education

With easy maintenance and low prices, the Acer and Samsung Chromebooks almost qualify as ‘throwaway devices’, and make good choices for use in the education sector. Indeed, Google has actually offered two Samsung Chromebooks – the Series 5 and Series 5 550 models – for sale to educational institutions in Australia for a while.

 

Samsung Series 5 – $429(Device: $399 + Management & support: $30 )
devices-selector-series-5
Samsung Series 5 550 – $479( Device: $449 + Management & support: $30 )

devices-selector-ss-550

Display 12.1″ (1280×800) display 12.1″ (1280×800) display
CPU Intel Atom N570 dual-core 1.66 GHz CPU 1.3 GHz Celeron 867 CPU
RAM 2 GB RAM 4GB DDR3 RAM
Storage 16GB SSD 16GB SSD
Webcam Built-in Webcam3 HD Camera
Card reader 4-in-1 memory card slot 4-in-1 memory card slot
Ports 2 USB 2.0 ports, Micro-VGA port with VGA adaptor 2 USB 2.0 ports, DisplayPort++ Output (compatible with HDMI, DVI, VGA)
Wireless Built-in dual-band Wi-Fi and 3G modem (opt) Built-in dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Gigabit ethernet, and 3G modem (opt)
Battery Up to 8.5 hours of continuous usage 6 hours of continuous usage
Dimensions 29.2×21.6×2.1cm @ 1.48kg 29.2×21.6x2cm @ 1.48kg

If you think you like the looks of the Chromebook for your child’s education, you should speak with your school about approaching Google.

Chrome OS and Chromebooks

Chrome OS is an Operating System created by Google, based on their popular browser. The OS is compiled from code from the Open Source Chromium OS project. The compiled code is shipped on hardware designed by partners such as Acer, Samsung and HP; but Lenovo has also recently entered the market with their X131e, and Google has also released their own model in the form of the Chromebook Pixel.

In a world where IT security is ever more important, Google shows great confidence in Chrome OS as it runs ‘Pwnium’ hacking conferences where they encourage hackers to attempt to find exploits within their OS for cash prizes. Any hacks found are quickly patched, but in a recent Google+ post, the Chrome Team proudly announced that Chrome OS had survived the latest event – Pwnium 3 – unscathed, with only some exploits being evaluated for partial credit in their attempts to hack it.

Industry pundits have long speculated that developing two Operating Systems – Android and Chrome OS – didn’t make much sense for Google, who has maintained a separation between Android as a phone/tablet OS and Chrome OS as a desktop/laptop OS. It’s long seemed that the presence of a physical keyboard is the distinguishing factor, but this line is blurred when considering devices like HP’s Envy X2 or Asus’ Transformer line.

With the recent news that Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President of Chrome and Google Apps will take over Android after Andy Rubin’s departure, many are now speculating that this confirms comments by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt over two years ago at Mobile World Congress, that Chrome OS and Android will “eventually merge into one operating system”.

The recently released Chromebook Pixel gives Google a platform to try out things at the high end of the market and with the release of this premium hardware it appears that Google has big plans for ChromeOS. What direction this may take could possibly be revealed as early as this years Google IO conference.

Chromebooks offer the flexibility of almost instant on computing, booting up in seconds and giving you access to all your Google services. Google themselves describe them as easy to maintain :

Easy to use and easy to share, Chromebooks make a great second or third computer for kids doing homework on the couch, parents catching up on email at the kitchen counter and grandparents staying connected on video chat. They require no setup or maintenance and there’s no need to worry about security updates, anti-virus protections, malware or installing software. This means that you get a faster, simpler and more secure experience, without the hassles involved with other computers — they just work.

There has been a bit of adoption of Chromebooks and ChromeOS here at Ausdroid. So far, Geoff has already reviewed and subsequently purchased the Samsung Chromebook, I own the original Chromebook the CR-48 and have ordered a Chromebook Pixel and Scott has purchased the Samsung Series 5 550. Google has kindly provided Ausdroid with an Acer C7 Chromebook for review which you will see as soon as time allows. It’s great to see Chromebooks on sale in Australia and we can’t wait to see the response from the Australian market.

Update 1, 6.30am: Added links to Harvey Norman’s site.
Update 2, 10.00am: Added JB Hi Fi pricing and availability information.
Update 3, 12.00pm: Added JB Hi Fi store list.
Update 4, 12.25pm: Added Samsung’s official statement.

Will you buy a Chromebook? Which would you prefer the Acer or the Samsung or will you wait for the HP?

 
Source: Google Australia Blog, Google Australia Blog, Google Australia Blog, Google Australia Blog, and Google Australia Blog.

Daniel Tyson   Editor

Dan is a die-hard Android fan. Some might even call him a lunatic. He's been an Android user since Android was a thing, and if there's a phone that's run Android, chances are he owns it (his Nexus collection is second-to-none) or has used it.

Dan's dedication to Ausdroid is without question, and he has represented us at some of the biggest international events in our industry including Google I/O, Mobile World Congress, CES and IFA.

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