Most Chromebooks are inexpensive with lacking hardware, because Chrome OS really doesn't need a lot of power. At the opposite end of that spectrum is the Samsung Chromebook Plus, at a more expensive starting price than most Chromebooks - $449. Now the laptop is available from the Google Store, with a $20 Google Play Store credit included.
At that price, the Chromebook Plus is directly competing with mid-range Windows laptops. It features a 2400x1600 3:2 display, 4GB of RAM, and a custom hexa-core ARM-based "OP1" processor. The Plus also has two USB Type-C ports (that's one more than the MacBook 2016, but who's keeping score?), an SD card reader, and a headphone jack. Specs aside, the Chromebook Plus is designed to show off Chrome OS' new ability to run Android apps from the Play Store. It's a 2-1 convertible, with a stylus for drawing on-screen.
Initial reviews of the Chromebook Plus are mixed. While most sites praise the design and stylus, the software powering the Android apps seems to be beta-quality. The Verge said, "most apps felt slightly slower than they do on my Google Pixel XL phone," but that the experience was still good at times. Most reviewers pointed out that the Plus runs Android apps far better than the Intel-based Chromebook Pro (which is expected to ship in April, with less buggy software), and that shouldn't be much of a surprise. Most Android developers target ARM-based phones as a priority.
Still, the Chromebook Plus appears to be a solid device, and Android app support will only get better once the runtime is updated to Android 7.0. But for $449, I imagine most buyers will opt for a less-sleek but more feature-packed Windows notebook.
- Google Store