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HP introduces a Chromebook Web appliance

In doing so it joins Samsung, Acer and Lenovo in the Google stable. Analysts wonder about this 'multi-OS' strategy and whether it means a major breech with Microsoft, and whether the move will see HP threatening its own line of Windows laptops with a low-end competitor... and so on. As a long-time supporter of the concept all this chatter and angst seems irrelevant to me - this is just embarrassed back-tracking by analysts who (for whatever reason) had wrongly written Google's Chrome OS off as a misstep. It isn't.

The fact is that after a slow start (Android had a nasty slow start as well, remember) the 'Browser as OS' concept seems to be picking up as it should as a large proportion of users realise they don't actually need a heavy, hot, noisy, expensive, disk-based clunker most of the time. For a couple of hundred dollars they can buy a thin, light, quiet, low maintenance, no-fuss Web appliance that does nearly all of what they need, using a proper keyboard, without it drooping one of their shoulders and twisting their spine like a latter-day Richard III. In this multi-screen day and age, many users will have laptop, tablet or Chromeook and a smartphone as well. The best options will be those that can seamlessly sync and share data.

I bought a Chromebook for a family member who loves it and takes it everywhere as if it were a smartphone, which in very many ways, it is. If she needs a computer to do something nerdy (very rarely) she just uses someone else's. It's just another option and if HP can't provide one for its fans and users, someone else (probably Samsung) will. That's why HP has launched one.

It's got a strange name - the Pavilion 14 - but all the techy bits are ship-shape. These include a modest 1.1-GHz Intel Celeron 847 processor, 16Gbytes solid-state drive, 2 Gbytes of RAM, and 100 GBytes of cloud storage on Google Drive for two years. It's actually not as light - at 4lb - as my rant above might have led you expect and the US price is $330. So this is your slightly more stolid, businessy Chromebook.

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