Dell said it will push its new Chromebook 13 laptop to business customers in a move to expand the market for the Web-centric systems beyond consumers and the education segment to corporate customers.
Similar to other manufacturers, Dell has been mining the consumer and education markets for Chromebook sales but the vendor now believes that a souped-up version of the units will appeal to budget and administration conscious business users.
A large stumbling block to winning businesses over to Chromebooks, despite the low price point and minimal management requirements, is the absence of power productivity applications such as Microsoft’s Office. Chromebooks, which run Google’s (GOOG) Chrome OS, rely on an Internet connection to run apps such as Google Docs, a functional but stripped down text editor.
Dell’s customizable Chromebook 13 features a 13.3-inch display, processing power up to 5th generation Intel (INTC) Core i5 chipset, 2GB to 8GB of system memory, onboard storage at either 16GB or 32GB and up to 12 hours of battery life.
The unit, which comes with touch and non-touch display options, is priced starting at $399, and fully configured can run up to $899. It will be available beginning September 17 in North America and on October 1 in the U.K.
One feature that makes the Chromebook 13 appear suitable for business is its construction. The unit features a carbon fiber-weave cover, magnesium-alloy wrist rest and aluminum base, giving it a sturdier look and feel than the typical plastic Chromebook.
“Our latest Chromebook offering is designed for the mobile professional, and provides customers with an unrivalled Chrome experience which mixes the cost and simplicity benefits of Google’s chrome portfolio with Dell’s commitment to design,” said Kirk Schell, Dell commercial client solutions vice president and general manager.
“Not only does the solution offer customers a superior mobile working experience, but with the availability of Dell’s leading security, management and ProSupport Plus service, it is also easy to integrate into wider device ecosystems,” he said.
The vendor said it also has incorporated into the Chromebook system security, special management features and its ProSupport Plus service. In addition, Dell said its Wyse vWorkspace desktop virtualization software will enable businesses to access Windows Web-based apps from the Chromebook.
Rajen Sheth, Google Product Management, Android and Chrome for Business and Education director, praised Dell’s new Chromebook in a CNet interview.
"In the early days of Chromebooks, most were low-priced plasticky devices,” he said. “There's charm to that, but there are also premium users who want to have a better device. The Pixel is the best Chromebook out there. This Dell is going to be easily the second best and at a much more affordable price."