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Google-branded netbook with Chrome OS coming this month?

We should be expecting the first Google Chrome OS devices this month, according to a new report. It's exactly the same time we were told to officially expect them.

Netbooks could soon bring the sexy back, with a new generation of devices carrying the Google brand and Chrome OS ready for release by the end of the year, according to a new report.

Similar to how it sold the Nexus One online and unlocked last year, Google will be releasing its own-brand Chrome OS 'smartbook' this month, according to Taiwan gossip blog Digitimes. Other companies will follow suit -- in December, HP and Acer may release their own devices.

A smartbook is somewhere between a smart phone and a netbook, according to our sister site It's a term coined by Qualcommm to define laptops using smart phone level processors. As if we didn't need another bit of jargon -- can't we just call these netbooks? Can't that just mean 'cheap laptop'?

Although the report is based on unnamed sources, it would match what we already know. Last November, a Google exec said we should be expecting the release of the lightweight operating system around about now, and sold pre-installed on specially built netbooks.

Chrome OS is based on Google's browser of the same name -- it looks almost identical and runs all the applications you need on the Web, over Wi-Fi or 3G. It will only be available on specifically optimised devices with solid-state drives, so you won't have any luck trying to load it up on your shonky old laptop.

It's an exciting idea, but relying on cloud storage could put people off, although maybe that's just us being old fogies. Could it change desktop computing in the same way Android changed smart phones? We could be finding out very soon.