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What's Next For Google's Laptop: The Chromebook


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Google (GOOG) has been in the laptop PC market for over two years, but it was only in late 2012 that the broader media started paying attention. Coming this November, Google will turn up the Chromebook PC heat a couple of notches.

Back in October-November 2012, Google launched $199 and $249 laptops together with Acer and Samsung. These became bestsellers on Amazon for months to come, even though very few -- if any -- absolute or reliable overall sales numbers for Chrome OS PCs have been made public.

In early 2013, Google expanded the Chromebook portfolio with HP (HPQ), Lenovo (LNVGY) and its own flagship Pixel laptop. They were all more expensive than the $199 and $249 Acer and Samsung models.

Since then, things have gotten quiet on the Chromebook hardware front. The less expensive Chromebooks have displays of modest quality, hardly competing against higher-resolution or touchscreen ones from Apple's (AAPL) and Microsoft's (MSFT) partners.

On the high end, the Chromebook Pixel has a fantastic screen and a great build quality. However, it gets very warm and the battery life is terrible at four to five hours on the best of days. Then mix it with the high price starting at $1,299 and it probably isn't selling well.

Meanwhile, in the last couple of months, Apple has launched fantastic laptops with 10 hours of battery life. As for Microsoft, the new Windows laptops have touchscreens, new Intel (INTC) CPUs with improved battery life, and many innovative laptop/tablet convertible form factors. The much-improved Windows 8.1 is only two months away, together with surely even more improved hardware.

With that as a background, what is Google to do with its Chrome OS laptops?

The answer is that around late October Google will launch a new set of laptops, together with many of its hardware partners, that will be available in November.

Here is what's going on:

1. New Intel CPUs. The Chromebooks to date are using what are now dated CPUs. Arguably, Chrome OS doesn't require much CPU power, but they could always use improved battery life. Expect the new Chromebooks this November to have better CPUs.

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