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Google To Offer Chrome OS Notebooks For $20/month 277

An anonymous reader writes "Hot on the heels of the $25 ARM computer, Google is to offer a $20 per month package for students, which includes a Chrome OS laptop (like the Cr-48) and an online component, which will likely include a storage bump for a user's Google Docs, Gmail, Picasa Web, and Google Music files. This would serve two purposes for Google: first, Google will be able to expand its existing user base for Chrome OS. For half the price of a typical cell phone contract, students will be able to pick up a netbook with 3G connectivity. Second, Google will be able to test the package offering publicly prior to eventually adding an enterprise version for Google Apps users."
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Google To Offer Chrome OS Notebooks For $20/month

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  • by mehrotra.akash ( 1539473 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @01:16PM (#36096006)

    A basic thinkpad costs around $800
    Thinkpads last 7+ years, assuming a useful life of 5 years, cost per year = $160 $20/month

    • That was supposed to be "Less Than" $20/month

      • by elo_sf ( 838722 )
        It has not been my experience that the useful lifetime of a laptop is 5 years, 2-3 for a laptop that is regularly moved day-in-day out seems to be more realistic. Not saying that the machine drops dead after 36 months, just that the life cycle is usually shorter than 5, certainly for college 4 would be a better comparison, you get a computer right before you start school and keep it to the end.
        • Thinkpad R60's were given out to my seniors and some faculty by the college. Right now they are 5+ years old.
          Apart from accidental damage, and a few hardware failures covered by warranty most of them are in perfect condition.

          • by geekoid ( 135745 )

            but are they useful? can you load modern software? Can you meet todays needs?

            • They do run windows 7, Office 2007 and other basic software without struggling much
              Also, you get a 4:3 screen

              A RAM upgrade from 1GB to 2GB is all thats needed

              Gaming and 1080p are outside their capability I think

            • by spazdor ( 902907 )

              can you load modern software? Can you meet todays needs?
              If the answer to any of this is 'no', I'll give even odds that a resource-sucking OS such as Windows is at least partly to blame. Not exactly a problem for Google.

            • I'm running modern software and meeting today's needs on a desktop with far lower specs than the R60.

        • Not to mention the Google netbook seems to include a 3G data plan which would cost more than $20/month all by itself on your ThinkPad.

          • by Svartalf ( 2997 )

            And the other shoe drops... >:-D

            You're talking more akin to $70-80/mo for it to be even remotely useful- and I can show you places that you could use a Laptop just fine and the Chrome "Laptop" would make for a poor doorstop. (Heh... Somewhere in the middle of the Front Range in Colorado, for example... They'd be usable in most of Estes Park, but in the large, worthless elsewhere along US-36, US-34, CO-7, etc...)

          • by rhook ( 943951 )

            Not true, You can get 1GB of 3G service for $20. A real 3G plan will come with 5x the transfer.

        • Depends on the laptop and what it's being used for. My father is using one of my old laptops, and is quite happy with it. It's being used for surfing, word processing, e-mailing, web development, and has a linux virtual machine with apache/mysql/php to test the webpages he develops. Said laptop has an Athlon 64 3500+ in it and 1GB of RAM and a 40GB hard drive, which should give you an idea of how old it is.

        • It has not been my experience that the useful lifetime of a laptop is 5 years, 2-3 for a laptop that is regularly moved day-in-day out seems to be more realistic. Not saying that the machine drops dead after 36 months, just that the life cycle is usually shorter than 5, certainly for college 4 would be a better comparison, you get a computer right before you start school and keep it to the end.

          The Cr-48, however, can't match the performance (or come close to the available software library) of the 5-7 year old Thinkpads described in your parent post, however, so I think the comparison is valid. The main thing it brings to the table is 3g "connectivity," which is nice if it means a 3g data plan included in the $20 a month price and not very impressive if it simply means it has a 3g modem but no plan.

        • by rhook ( 943951 )

          You obviously know nothing about the durability of ThinkPads, and the processors out today should still be quite useful in 5+ years. If you've been paying attention you would notice that the main improvement with newer processors is lower power consumption. How many notebooks can survive being throw into a wall or having liquid poured into the keyboard?


      • by Svartalf ( 2997 )

        Still worthless. If you don't have Internet access, you don't have a Chrome notebook that's usable. That's the problem with ANY "Cloud" premise to begin with- it's only as useful as your access to the 'Net. With a Laptop, I can still do LOADS of things. Yes, there's a risk of losing something if the device is trashed, but what Google's selling isn't any better an answer- and this doesn't get into the security aspects of what they're selling here- or the privacy ones either.

        • Google's laptop comes with 3g service.

        • How many college campuses do you know of in the USA without 3G coverage?

          This offer is limited to students...

          • by vrmlguy ( 120854 )

            How many college campuses do you know of in the USA without 3G coverage?

            This offer is limited to students...

            I see no place where they say "college students". I have a kid in high school who'd love one.

    • by b0bby ( 201198 )

      But you don't get 3G data included with your Thinkpad. That's gotta be worth at least $5-10/month.

      • by Svartalf ( 2997 )

        Uh, it said you had a 3G modem in the device- not that this included the plan. There's LOTS of netbooks that've got 3G or WiMax included in the device- but the service doesn't come with the device. Try somewhere along $20-ish per month for the Chrome "laptop" and another $20-50 (or MORE if you're a heavy user...) for the 3G access deal. So, the device is in keeping with a netbook offered by the Telcos coupled with a data plan... Nothing special, and certainly nothing cheaper, really.

        • by b0bby ( 201198 )

          The Forbes article I read said "Google tomorrow will announce sales of the new Chrome laptop in a $20 a month “student package” that combines both hardware and online services, according to a senior Google executive." It wouldn't really make sense any other way.

    • by blair1q ( 305137 )

      If you're using a ThinkPad you bought seven years ago...


      • Mines only 3 years old.. Want to see how long I can drag it on

        Have seen operational ones which are 6+ years old (Dont know the exact age/model, but they run Win 95 and have a floppy drive)

    • The googlebooks are more netbooks than notebooks, and a good netbook is $300 tops. I'd rather pay that, have local storage and access to my apps while off line... and get to own to hardware and the software, and keep using it for free as long as I want.

      Google's announcement combines many things I don't like:
      - renting things for a very high monthly payment, which means you could actually buy the thing for only 1 year's worth of rent. Imagine if they did that with appartments. (sorry, couldn't fit in a pizza.

      • Imagine if they did that with appartments.

        It's not comparable; 1 year is around 1/4 of the lifetime of a laptop, while a house lasts for decades.

    • by rhook ( 943951 )

      But who wants an $800 ThinkPad that has none of the options? A decently configured ThinkPad T-Series will run you $1500 or so (less if you use a coupon during a sale). That comes out to $25/month over 5 years, and you can actually get stuff done with the machine.

    • by jon3k ( 691256 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @08:35PM (#36101340)
      I think we're forgetting the fact that while not all students can afford an $800 lump payment many can afford to drink $20 less in beer a month. Basically Google is offering free financing on a laptop with a $20/mo payment. That's a pretty killer deal.
  • not worth it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alen ( 225700 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @01:17PM (#36096024)

    i have a beta cr-48 and haven't used it in months. even my wife rarely uses it anymore unlike her iphone.

    it's OK and pretty fast but completely useless unless you have a network connection. ipad runs rings around it in hardware quality and functionality.

    • Well considering google is talking free 3G included for $20 a month, not all college students have $500 laying around the house, then extra $X a month for a data plan. Useless without internet, but it is bundled with 3g internet that works almost anywhere, I fail to see the problem. It isn't a top of the line perfect for everyone device, but it is a nice, inexpensive tool that seems appropriate for many students needs.
      • If you use this Netbook for more than 2 years, you could have bought an iPad. If you use it for 4 years, the iPad is cheaper with service. Its higher up front cost, but the iPad would be cheaper as a long term investment, plus has resale value. Its essentially the same situation as a lease vs buy scenario with a car.
  • K12 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by xzvf ( 924443 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @01:18PM (#36096028)
    I think this has the most value in K12. A lot will depend on support contracts and additional costs, but for a 1:1 program this is a reasonable structure. Many people will compare this to buying a laptop for under $400 that can be used anywhere versus a $240 dollar annual cost for a device that only works over the web. What most people will miss and what will be important for this to work, is reducing the management and maintenance costs of the devices. If you combine the $240 appliance with wireless access at school, administrative control of the device, replacement structures for broken and stolen devices, and the ability to integrate with an LMS, this could be a valuable reduction in costs.
    • What about a Thinkpad with the corporate management features and a 5+ year lifespan?

      At $800 it works out to $160 per year

    • Have you thought of the legal implications of turning over all those minors' data to a third party?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @01:19PM (#36096052)

    A $300 netbook that I can use for $0/month! That's right, ladies and gents, zero dollars per month!

    And that's not all. It's even capable of storing up to 320 GB of data INSIDE the device itself! How amazing is that? You can carry your data right along with you, and not have to depend on "the cloud" or have problems with their data breeches.

    If I keep it for 5 years, that's $1200 saved compared to a $20/month plan. And since I have both 802.11 and a cell phone anyway, I can still get network connectivity anywhere.

    It's a damn amazing thing, I tell ya what.

    • Good for you. Now suppose you usually have no use for a notebook but you'll be traveling for two months and wish to have your own computer to browse on during that period, after which you'll revert to having no use for a notebook.
      • by b0bby ( 201198 )

        I doubt that Google is going to let you have this thing for only 2 months at a time.

    • So your math isn't realistic. This is a dumb terminal for $20/month. I can give you a shovel, and you might find an old Televideo in a landfill some place that might be adaptable to WiFi.

      Google believes convenience is going to rule, but there's little compelling for $20/month.

    • by Svartalf ( 2997 )

      Yep. Amazing, isn't it? My Nook's in the same class of tool. And, we won't get into my Iconia Tab, or my netbook (Heh...) or the Laptop I've got. Sorry, I wish people wouldn't gee-whiz over this stuff. Seriously. You can actually GET the same basic deal Google's peddling with your described setup plus 3G/4G access for $150-200 purchase and $50/mo. If you subsidize it via credit card, it ends up being...wait for it...$20/mo for the life of the service contract and a $50/mo service contract from ANY of

    • by Necroman ( 61604 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @02:17PM (#36096894)

      I think you're missing something important with this.

      It's $20/month/user for K12 and College, and $28/month/user for businesses. With this you get an auto-upgrading OS, warrenty and support, and hardware upgrades as the hardware gets old. So in 2-3 years when your current laptops are old, they will send you new ones for all your users. Because everything is stored online, the upgrade is nearly seamless for the users.

      As well, this includes "domain" management for all the laptops you buy this way. As an IT admin, you manage all the laptops you get this way, setting up users, policies, and other junk that IT admins have to deal with.

      This is a lot more than a stand alone laptop.

      (Note: I'm at Google IO right now and I'm getting one of these things for free, so I may be influenced by the magic).

      • by Nimey ( 114278 )

        Are you getting a Cr-48, or one of the production units?

        If it's a production unit, what are your impressions?

        • by Necroman ( 61604 )

          It'll be one of the production models (not sure which). But they are going to be sending us info on or around June 15 (when everyone else gets them) with a voucher or something. We aren't getting them today.

        • It's a production unit, but people at the conference don't actually get them for another month.

      • It's $20/month/user for K12 and College

        But how well would it work for students majoring in software engineering or computer science?

    • Adding tethering to your plan will probably cost you more than Googles entire offering here...
  • Now you just need to make sure you never lose your connection to the internet, otherwise you're screwed.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      You can use it without a connection, you know. Of COURSE you loose features that require web access..just like every other fucking device.

  • As an owner of a Chrome OS laptop, the only way I'd get one of these (or recommend it to a friend) is if they came with unlimited 3G. The 100mb cap is not nearly enough.

    • by drb226 ( 1938360 )
      Did I miss the part in TFA where they said there was a 100mb cap? [citation needed]
    • by RichM ( 754883 )

      As an owner of a Chrome OS laptop, the only way I'd get one of these (or recommend it to a friend) is if they came with unlimited 3G. The 100mb cap is not nearly enough.

      Is that per day?
      I hope so.

  • I'd like to see definite proof in the form of a signup page rather than slashdot's repost of an extremetech repost of Forbe's repost of Engadget's speculation. Can anyone provide that?
  • I thought they would give it up after the lukewarm response to their beta devices.

    That's Google for you, not afraid of failure--even when it's staring at them squarely in the face.


  • I was writing a paper on the PC^W Google laptop, and it was, like, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep^W^W^W^W^W Google Docs crashed, and then, like, half^W all of my papers was gone. And I was, like ? meh. It devoured my paper. It was a really good papers. And then I had to do it^W them all again and I had to do it^W them fast so it^W they wasn't as good. It's kind of^W^W^W really a fucking bummer.

  • One where they film people going around repossessing laptops.

  • were attended by 100s of students. I can't see there being much capacity available to upload or download 10s of Mbytes per student for 100s or 1000s of students in a small campus area. I don't believe the infrastructure in most places would be able to handle "download your textbook and turn to the section on..." in a timely manner.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972