Consumers could soon have some new choices when looking for a Chromebook. PC World’s sources suggests that a Google representative will be on stage during Wednesday’s Intel Developer Forum keynote and will introduce new Chromebooks that use Intel’s fourth-generation chip, called Haswell.
I haven’t heard anything specific about any such products but I will suggest that the timing is right. There haven’t been any new laptop models running Google’s Chrome OS software in months; possibly because hardware makers all knew that new Intel chips would be available by now. Indeed, Apple’s MacBook Air line was refreshed in June as one of the first computers to get the Haswell chip which promised better battery life for devices. As a result, a 13-inch MacBook Air can now run for up to 12 hours on a single charge.
The Haswell chips are now more widely available and various computer makers are using the silicon in new PCs. Until now, however, Chromebooks have used older Intel chips or, in the case of Samsung’s $249 Chromebook, an ARM chip that would typically be used in a smartphone or tablet.
One exception is Google’s Chromebook Pixel, which is powered by a third-generation Intel Core i5. In terms of raw performance my Pixel provides a much better experience than the prior Chromebooks I’ve bought and can easily power its 2560 x 1700 resolution touchscreen. But the Pixel costs $1,299 to start. Where are the Chromebooks that offer better performance than the $250 models but only cost $500 to $700?
My gut says that if Google announces anything on Wednesday, it will be a Chromebook at this price range, running on a low-power Haswell chip. It’s possible that the Pixel sees a refresh as well, as it could stand to gain some extra run-time: I only get 4.5 to 5 hours on a charge with my Chromebook.