Apple introduced a much-needed and radical redesign for its Mac Pro desktop line this week, but its refreshing of the MacBook Air was all internal – the laptop’s look has not changed since its revamp in 2010.
Since then, many Windows laptops have tried to copy the Air’s classic wafer-thin looks and it has inspired an entire “Ultrabook” category, created by Intel. But, after trying the new Air and its most recent competition, it’s easy to see why Apple felt no need to change things externally.
Google’s Chromebook laptops have always felt more like demonstrations of the art of the possible than products you necessarily want to use every day. What they do, they do spectacularly well: it’s just that they aren’t quite the finished article.
The new Chromebook Pixel lives up to that track record. Its high-definition screen is a gorgeous bright rectangle you can’t resist reaching out to stroke. But for most users, the love affair will still feel incomplete.
While Google has managed to resolve a lot of the bugs and frustrations of its Chromebook, the main issue of having to pay a relatively high price for a fairly limited laptop has remained.
Until now. The launch this week of a $249 (£229) Chromebook makes Google’s vision of computing in the cloud affordable and appealing, with a thin and light machine from Samsung that is $200 cheaper than its previous model released in May.
Google’s first Chromebook sought to do a couple of things really well – and largely succeeded.
But because laptops need to do more than a couple of things, the Chromebook didn’t sell. Ultimately, it represented too much of a break with the PC. That makes the compromises built into the new Chromebook, which goes on sale in the US on Tuesday and the UK on Wednesday, an important step towards making it a more practical machine.
The small detail in a planning application has led to speculation that Google might be opening its first retail store, at its European headquarters in Dublin.
Google is revamping the Montevetro office block on Dublin’s Barrow Street, and the plans submitted to Dublin City Council include a provision f0r some retail space in a snazzy new, attention-grabbing mezzanine development. Could this be an experiment by Google to see if a physical store – where they could demonstrate the workings of Chromebooks, or display Android phones – would work for them?
If you still have nebulous notions about what the cloud means to you, that’s understandable, given that two of its main proponents – Apple and Google – are presenting opposite views on how it should float. Google’s ideas are embodied in the new Chromebooks that went on sale in the US and several European countries, including the UK, this week. These are stripped-down laptops that substitute the usual hard drive and software programs with storage in the cloud and web services delivered over an internet connection.
By contrast, Apple’s iCloud represents a move away from this traditional thinking on the cloud’s purpose