Chrome OS-powered Chromebooks are already priced well below most laptops, though there are a couple of exceptions when you find sales on Windows machines. Today, you’ll mostly find Chromebooks in the $200 – $300 arena, but a report from DigiTimes on Thursday suggests we’ll see two new Chromebooks early next year that will cost even less.
The news outlet said ASUS and Toshiba are both preparing new Chrome OS machines that will retail for around $149. The laptops will reportedly run on processors provided by Rockchip, also known as Fuzhou Rockchip Electronic, a Chinese chip maker. The latest batch of Chromebooks in the U.S. run on either Samsung Exynos or Intel processors and the switch to Rockchip could help provide cheaper alternatives. Lenovo has already tested an Android product running on a Rockchip CPU and DigiTimes said it may get its new Chromebook out the door before the year is up, though the ASUS option is still scheduled for an early 2015 deployment. Both devices will reportedly offer 11.6-inch screens, though other specs were not disclosed.
We’ll need to see just how powerful these Rockchip-based Chromebooks are before we decide whether or not that extra $50 savings is actually worth it. As Google expands the capabilities of Chrome OS by adding in Android-like features and tying the operating system more closely with its mobile OS, extra power may actually be worth the added cost to consumers. The move, however, is said to put additional pressure on Microsoft, which is still working to drop costs on Windows machines, and the cheaper Chrome OS laptops could be particularly attractive to the educational sector where Google and Microsoft continue to fight head-to-head.
TechnoBuffalo reached out to Lenovo and Toshiba for comment but representatives for both firms were not immediately available.