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Google unveils first Chromebooks

At its annual developer conference, Google takes the wraps off its first commercial Chromebook laptops.

Google announced its first Chrome-based notebooks at its Google I/O conference here. CNET/James Martin

SAN FRANCISCO--Google announced its first commercial Chromebook laptops Wednesday at its annual Google I/O conference here.

Samsung and Acer will each be offering Chromebook laptops starting June 15. The Samsung Chromebook will cost $429 for the Wi-Fi only version and $499 for the 3G version. Acer's Wi-Fi only Chromebook will cost $349.

The devices will be available for sale in the U.S. from Amazon and Best Buy. Google will also be selling these Chromebooks internationally in the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and Italy.

Specs for both machines are available here.

Samsung is hosting an event later tonight where it will provide more details on the new Chromebook. Acer will also be providing details about its Chromebook.

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Some of the benefits of the Chromebooks are that they have all-day battery life and built-in Net connectivity. With Verizon Wireless, the Chromebooks will offer pay-as-you-go pricing, with monthly or daily passes for 3G connectivity.

The Chromebooks get updates every few weeks, just like Chrome. Users don't have to worry about installing patches. The new devices have dual-core processors from Intel.

Google also announced enterprise pricing: Businesses can get Chromebooks, a Web console for management, support, warranty, replacements if something breaks, and hardware auto-updates for $28 per user per month.

And Google will be offering schools a special price on Chromebooks. It will charge $20 a month per user, including hardware, administrative support, hardware upgrades, and warranty.

Michael Gartnenberg, an analyst with Gartner, said the fact that the browser is limited to Chrome might be a factor, considering that competing products offer more capability and flexibility at roughly comparable pricing.

"It's pretty interesting," he said. "But at these prices, will consumers buy it? At $499, that gets you a pretty capable Netbook or even an iPad."

Google will offer all attendees at Google I/O free Chromebooks to test.

Updated 11:36 a.m. PT with link to specs.

Related links
• Complete coverage: Google I/O
• Acer Chromebook: A solid-state Netbook for $349
• First Take: Samsung Series 5 Chromebook, the future of Netbooks?
• Google's choice: Chrome OS or Android?