Google today announced it will launch its Chromebooks in India on October 17. It has partnered with Acer and HP for the first two devices. Google has also tied up with Airtel and Tikona for some data bundling plans. The Acer C720 will be priced at Rs 22,999 while the HP Chromebook 14 will be priced at Rs 26,990. Both the devices will be available from Reliance Digital and Croma retail stores and can also be pre-booked from Flipkart.
The Acer C720 features a 11.6-inch 1,366×768 pixel display, a 16GB SSD (along with 100GB of free Google Drive storage for two years), a VGA camera, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, one USB 3.0 and another USB 2.0 port. It runs on Intel Celeron 2955U processor based on Intel’s Haswell architecture and claims to have a battery life of 8.5 hours.
The HP Chromebook 14, on the other hand, has a 14-inch 1,366×768 pixel display, a 32GB SSD (along with 100GB of free Google Drive storage for two years), a 720p camera, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, two USB 3.0 and another USB 2.0 port as well as a 3-in-1 card reader. It too runs on Intel Celeron 2955U processor based on Intel’s Haswell architecture and claims to have a battery life of 9.5 hours.
Google has also tied up with Airtel and Tikona for providing data connectivity as Chromebooks have limited offline capabilities. Under the offer with Airtel Chromebook buyers can pay an advance rental of Rs 2,499 and get an Airtel USB modem and 6GB of monthly 3G data for three months. After three months, users will be charged Rs 950 per month for 6GB of data. For circles that have Airtel 4G networks, Chromebook buyers can pay Rs 2,499 for which they will get an Airtel 4G dongle and 10GB of monthly 4G data for two months. After two months, users will be charged Rs 999 per month for 10GB of data. You can read the fine print here.
With Tikona, Chromebook buyers can get a 4Mbps connection with 8GB data usage valid for 45 days for free. Or they can pay Rs 3,500 and get 100GB of data free that can be used over 20 months. Paying Rs 4,500 would get them the same data plan along with a Wi-Fi router. You can read the fine print here.
It would be interesting to see how Chromebooks perform in India considering the OS has very little offline capabilities and needs an Internet connection for most tasks. At its current pricing and lack of free public Wi-Fi networks, most users would be inclined to get a more “traditional” laptop experience with an entry-level Windows device. Having said that, the Chromebook would appeal to those users who spend most of their time online and extensively use Google services and rely on cloud storage. The advantage of Chrome OS is it can work on frugal hardware resources.
Watch this space for our thoughts and experience with Chromebooks.