Dell’s Chromebook 13 – carbon fibre indulgence or the future of business?

Dell Chromebook
Dell Chrombook 13 (Image: Dell)

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21 August 2015 | 0

The new Chromebook 13 from Dell is pitching high with a premium specification and construction.

There is a 338mm (13.3”) FHD IPS 1920 x 1080 screen, an Intel Celeron 3205U, Corei3-500SU or Core i5 5300U processor, with 2GB up to 8GB RAM, 16GB-32GB SSD, HD Graphics GT1/2, quoted 12-hour battery life, and dual antenna 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

There is a business hardening, as opposed to actual rugged spec, with an aluminium case with carbon-fibre cladding, magnesium alloy palm rest and backlit keyboard, and touchscreen.

Could the Dell Chromebook 13 be the world’s first serious business Chromebook? Apart from Google’s vanity showcase Pixel, the platform has not exactly caught light for a commercial sector that has yet to buy them in any numbers, or perhaps at all. Today, right now, Chromebooks are still seen as an education platform that might suit home users who find tablets limiting.

And yet Chromebooks should by rights be the perfect fit for many businesses. Based around the expanding world of cloud apps – including Google’s very own Apps for Work – they vault problems that still floor PCs such as software security and day-to-day running costs. In services and applications nobody doubts that this stuff is the future and yet the devices built to exploit it natively are still curiosities.

As a firm with a track record of selling to businesses of all sizes, Dell is an interesting company to turn some of this around. The company already offers integration using the Dell Wyse vWorkspace connector which can be used with its Kace management console. Dell’s SonicWALL Mobile Connect VPN makes it easier to take Chromebooks on the road. Dell’s Chromebooks can be supported as in-house products, something that with rivals would be left to independent resellers.

And the carbon-fibre, aluminium and magnesium case? Indulgences for most consumers, business users in education and beyond need a physically robust device that will survive the capital expenditure cycle of three to five years. As for the higher-end specs on offer, while Chromebooks don’t bog down as quickly as Windows machines, they do eventually slow. More CPU and memory still matters.

Doubts remains but perhaps companies such as Dell will establish the Chromebooks as the premier cloud computer even if Google will not.

The Dell Chromebook 13 is available here form 1 October, and while US pricing is $399 – $799 (€353 – €706), Irish specific pricing has not yet been released.

 

John E Dunn, IDG News

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