Google just announced some extremely aggressive-priced Samsung Chromebooks starting at $249 at major U.S. retailers:

The new Chromebook is a great computer at any price, but it’s an incredible computer at $249. It’s one of the lightest laptops on the market. You can easily carry it around all day—it’s 2.5 pounds, a mere 0.8 inches thick, with more than 6 hours of battery life for the typical user. And with 100 GB of free storage on Google Drive*, you can get to all of your stuff anytime, anywhere.

Even with its compact design, it’s packed with performance—it boots up in less than 10 seconds and resumes instantly. High-resolution videos (in 1080p) are beautiful to watch and when using the touchpad, you’ll notice smooth scrolling due to a hardware-accelerated user interface. And as you‘d expect from a Chromebook, it’s easy to share with others. Everyone—mom, dad, grandparents, tech lovers, tech haters—can have separate accounts where all of their stuff is kept safe. Finally, if you’re an active Google user of products like Gmail, Drive, Search, Maps, YouTube, Play or Google+ Hangouts, everything just works seamlessly.

The new Chromebook weighs a little less than 2.5 pounds, but it boasts the same 6.5-hour battery life. The screen, however, is 0.5-inches smaller with a 1,366-by-768-pixel resolution. The most notable difference in Google’s thinner Chromebook is the Samsung Exynos 5250 dual-core processor inside, and it features a Cortex-A15 chip that reportedly runs 1080p video and ChromeOS pretty well. GigaOm’s Kevin C. Tofel even noted the overall performance is “comparable to the Intel-powered Chromebook I have, but perhaps a half-step behind; at least in my few hours of using the device.”

This is finally a compelling offer at $249—as long as the hardware is fast. It looks like a base-line MacBook Air (and will surely draw criticism for that) for a quarter of the price. Again, so long as it performs, I don’t think Google will have a problem selling them to its intended audience: grandparents, kids, and as second or third computers for those who are heavy Google service users, and companies that need cheap mobile workstations.

Update: More reviews are starting to come in and unfortunately many are complaining about slowness. Not surprising for a $249 machine but clearly not for power users.

A gallery is below.

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(Gallery via Engadget)

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