Mobile is the big tech focus for India — with initiatives like Facebook’s Internet.org and Google’s Android One, to name but two — but that isn’t stopping Google from introducing new budget Chromebook laptops in the South Asian country.
The Mountain View-based firm announced two sub-$250 Chromebooks, laptops powered by its web-based Chrome OS platform, from domestic manufacturers Nexian and Xolo.
The Nexian Chromebook retails for 13,499 INR ($212) from Amazon — it’s currently on sale for 12,999 INR — while Xolo’s device is available from Snapdeal for 13,999 INR, around $220. Chromebooks traditionally pack a punch for their price, particularly for educational purposes, but tend to rely on having an internet connection for most tasks and features.
That’s not quite all… Google said also that machine’s from ASUS, Samsung and other Indian companies will hit the market soon to provide even greater choice.
The U.S. company first introduced Chromebooks to India in late 2013. The budget machines have been popular among schools and other educational institutions in the West, and now Google has announced that they are available for schools in India too. That’s important because, while mobile is no doubt the future of content consumption, laptop and desktop machines appear — for now — to be pivotal for content creation. (Even a $200 Chromebook can be a development machine, thanks to software like Nitrous.IO.)
India Today got its hands on the two new products and found that there was little to choose from, performance-wise, from them. Both run on a RockChip SoC, which is not exactly a known quantity, although the Xolo appeared to have superior design and ergonomics — from the initial hands-on, at least.
The challenge for the Google-powered machines is to beat out Microsoft at the sub-$300 pricepoint. Windows is the most prevalent platform for desktop machines across Asia, and, although Chrome does support a growing number of offline features, Windows-powered machines appear to offer more advanced features for a little extra spend. Choice though, is never a bad thing, and the Chromebook has Google’s brand to help appeal to consumers.