Google has announced that Chromebooks will soon be available in 6,600 stores around the world. That’s about three times the number of stores that currently offer laptops running Google’s Chrome OS software.

Up until now you’ve been able to buy the devices from Best Buy, Amazon, and the Google Play Store. But soon you’ll be able to pick one up at Staples, Walmart, Tesco, FNAC, Harvey Nroman, and other locations.

Samsung Chromebook

Chromebooks are basically laptops that ship with Chrome OS. Most, but not all, also ship with relatively small (but fast) solid stat drives instead of hard drives. This helps them boot and resume from sleep quickly, although most Chromebooks these days are pretty zippy once they’re up and running, since most of the OS runs from RAM instead of from the slower SSD or HDD.

The stores will carry models including the Acer C7, Samsung Series 3, and HP Pavilion 14 with prices as low as $199.

On the one hand, it’s easy to look at Chromebook as little more than cheap laptops that keep the price down by shipping with Google software instead of Windows. On the other hand, once you spend some time with a Chromebook, you start to think about the way you use a computer differently.

Since most Chromebooks resume from sleep just about as fast as you can open the lid, they feel almost like “always-on” devices like a smarpthone or a tablet. I find myself grabbing a Chromebook to do quick tasks like checking or responding to an email that I normally might not bother booting a slower computer for.

And since Chrome OS stores your data, settings, and other files in the cloud, you can easily pick up where you left off on another device — even an Android, Windows, or OS X device if you have the Chrome web browser installed.

A Windows 8 ultrabook offers some of those same features — but usually at a much higher price.

Of course Chromebooks don’t have to be cheap. Google’s Chromebook Pixel with a Core i5 processor, a high-resolution touchscreen display, and one of the best keyboard and trackpad systems around sells for $1300 and up.

As Chromebooks become available in more and more stores, it’s likely that we could see sales of Chrome OS devices pick up. On the other hand, we could also see a lot of customers purchase these devices failing to understand the differences between Chrome OS and Windows, which could lead to a lot of confused, disappointed customers.

Hopefully sales staff (and signage) are up to the task.


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7 replies on “Chromebooks will soon be sold in 6600 stores for $199 and up”

  1. My Son is starting college in the fall and I’m wondering if a Chromebook would work for him. I like the price but would there be compatibility issues with MS office or can he use it now that the new 360 version is all online?

    1. Google Drive is a great alternative to MS Office, although if you really need it, the only version works too.

  2. I wish there were a Chromebook emulator I could run to see how I like the experience. Shelling out $199 or more to find out if I’ll like it is just not possible for me.

      1. Yes, but it’s not a Chromebook emulator. That let’s you run someone else’s build of Chromium OS which may or may not replicate the experience of a real Chromebook.

        1. I fail to understand how running Chromium OS in a VM would be substantially different than the emulator you were describing earlier. It would mimic the experience as much as an emulation of just about anything mimics the actual experience of using it.

          What are you concerned wouldn’t be ‘the experience of a real Chromebook’? To me the hardware is still damn important and will meaningfully impact the experience of using the OS but isn’t subject to emulation by definition.

          So what are you getting at?

          1. I would like to run the EXACT version of Chrome OS running on the Chromebook, not a hacked version of the open source version of the OS. It’s like the difference between running Darwin and MacOS X.

            I don’t expect to get a good replication of the hardware experience, but I’d like the software to be as close as possible.

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