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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Google Intros Chromebook Plus Devices With More Power, Apps and AI for $399

As Google’s ChromeOS has evolved, Chromebooks have grown right along with it. They now range from basic models for less than $200 to premium options up to $1,000. It can make shopping for one to fit your needs a headache, especially if you’re on a budget. To simplify the process, Google is introducing a new device category: Chromebook Plus. 

With Chromebook Plus, you’re guaranteed to get at least the following specs, with a starting price of $399:

  • 12th-gen Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 7000 processor or better
  • 8GB or more of memory
  • 128GB or more of storage
  • 1080p-resolution IPS LCD or better
  • 1080p webcam with temporal noise reduction

But being a Chromebook Plus model isn’t only about the hardware. The devices will also get extra ChromeOS and Google software features. For example, you’ll have access to Google Photos’ HDR and Portrait Blur and to the Magic Eraser tool to remove unwanted people and things from photos. There’s also offline file sync, which basically gives you offline access to files saved to Google Drive’s My Drive folder. It also means you can start or edit a doc while offline, and when you reconnect, it’ll sync to Drive.

Recognizing how important video call quality has become, Google made a 1080p-resolution webcam with temporal noise reduction part of the Chromebook Plus specs. But it also added a new video chat control panel to the OS. When the camera or microphone is accessed, the panel is available with options to improve lighting, add a background blur and turn on noise cancellation for non-human speech sounds like leaf blowers and construction.  

The Material You UI adjusts the ChromeOS color palette to match your wallpaper color. 

Google

Another part of the Plus package is the Material You UI and dynamic wallpapers and screensavers. The former adds some personalization to the ChromeOS experience with a UI color palette that matches your wallpaper, as well as the Google Sans typeface and rounded corners to windows. The dynamic wallpapers (there are two at launch) are nature scenes with lighting changes to match the time, going from sunrise to sunset. 

Over the past year, Google tackled making gaming better on Chromebooks by adding cloud gaming and Steam support and bringing Minecraft to the platform. (Chromebook Pluses come with three months of GeForce Now’s priority tier.) Now, with Chromebook Plus models, it’s making a play for creators by including three months of Adobe Photoshop on the web and Adobe Express. With more tools going online, the need to have a pricey laptop for some graphically demanding tasks is less necessary. Chromebook Plus laptops also come with 25% off LumaFusion’s video-editing suite

Google also promises free AI-powered ChromeOS features for Chromebook Plus will be available in the coming months. Those include a personal writing assistant for everything from emails to YouTube video descriptions and the ability to generate custom wallpapers and video-call backgrounds.  

There are eight Chromebook Plus laptops at launch in the US to choose from — two each from Acer, Asus, HP and Lenovo — and they’ll be available on Oct. 8. 

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus on a blue background
Lenovo

Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook Plus

  • 14-inch 16:10 1080p touch IPS LCD 
  • Intel Core i3-1315U or i5-1334U
  • 8GB LPDDR4x memory
  • 128GB eMMC or 256GB, 512GB SSD
  • Integrated Intel UHD (i3) or Iris Xe graphics
  • Wi-Fi 6/6E, Bluetooth 5.0
  • MicroSD card slot, USB-C (3.2 Gen 2), USB-C (3.2 Gen 1), USB-A (3.2 Gen 1), combo audio jack

Lenovo Ideapad Slim 3i Chromebook Plus open and front facing left on a purple background.
Lenovo

Lenovo Slim 3i Chromebook Plus

  • 14-inch 1080p IPS LCD or touch IPS LCD with 100% sRGB 
  • Intel Core i3-N305
  • 8GB LPDDR5 memory 
  • 128GB or 256GB eMMC
  • Integrated Intel UHD graphics
  • Wi-Fi 6/6E, Bluetooth 5.1
  • USB-C (3.2 Gen 2), 2x USB-A (3.2 Gen 1), HDMI 1.4b, combo audio jack

Acer Chromebook Plus 514 open and front facing on an orange background.
Acer

  • 14-inch 16:10 1,920×1,200 IPS LCD with 100% sRGB (touch or non-touch)
  • AMD Ryzen 3 7320C or Ryzen 5 7520C
  • 8GB or 16GB LPDDR5x memory
  • 128GB UFS or 256GB, 512GB SSD
  • Integrated AMD Radeon 610M graphics
  • Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1
  • 2x USB-C (3.2 Gen 1), USB-A (3.2 Gen 1), HDMI 1.4, combo audio jack

Acer Chromebook Plus 515 open with the front facing right on a blue background.
Acer

  • 15.6-inch 1,920×1,080 IPS LCD with 100% sRGB
  • Intel Core i3-1215U up to i7-1355U
  • 8GB or 16GB LPDDR5x memory
  • 128GB UFS or 256GB or 512GB SSD
  • Integrated Intel UHD graphics
  • Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1
  • 2x USB-C (3.2 Gen 1), USB-A (3.2 Gen 1), HDMI 1.4, combo audio jack

HP Chromebook Plus x360 14 open and front facing on a white background.
HP

HP Chromebook Plus x360 14

  • 14-inch (1,920×1,200) touch IPS LCD
  • Intel Core i3-1215U or i5-1235U
  • 8GB or 16GB of LPDDR4x memory
  • 128GB, 256GB or 512GB SSD
  • Integrated Intel UHD or Iris Xe graphics
  • Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3
  • 2x USB-C (3.2 Gen 1×2), USB-A (3.2 Gen 1×2), microSD slot, combo audio jack

HP Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch open and front facing to the left on a lavender background.
HP

  • 15.6-inch 1080p IPS LCD (available with 144Hz refresh rate)
  • Intel Core i3-N305
  • 8GB LPDDR5 memory 
  • 128GB or 256GB UFS
  • Integrated Intel UHD graphics
  • Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3
  • 2x USB-C (3.2 Gen 1), USB-A (3.2 Gen 1), microSD slot, combo audio jack

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 open facing left with a picture of its lid behind the top left corner of the open CX34 on a green background.
Asus

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34

  • 14-inch 1080p IPS LCD (touch or non-touch)
  • Intel Core i3-1215U, i5-1235U or i7-1255U
  • 8GB or 16GB LPDDR5 memory
  • 128GB or 256GB UFS or 512GB SSD
  • Integrated Intel UHD or Iris Xe graphics
  • Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
  • 2x USB-C (3.2 Gen 1), 2x USB-A (3.2 Gen 1), HDMI 1.4, combo audio jack

Asus Chromebook Plus CM34 Flip open and front facing right.

Asus Chromebook Plus CM34 Flip

Asus didn’t release specific specs for a Chromebook Plus version of its CM34 Flip, but the current version meets the requirements. A Chromebook Plus version is expected.

  • 14-inch 1080p touch IPS LCD
  • AMD Ryzen 3 7320C
  • 8GB LPDDR5 memory
  • 128GB SSD
  • Integrated AMD Radeon graphics
  • Wi-Fi 6, 5.3
  • USB-A (3.2 Gen 2), 2x USB-C (3.2 Gen 2), HDMI 2.1 TMDS, combo audio jack, microSD slot



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