Microsoft’s renewed nervousness about Chromebooks was likely influenced by advance knowledge of Dell’s announcement that it would be joining Acer, HP and Samsung in manufacturing the ultraportable laptops in January.

The machine will have a Celeron 2955U processor, a choice of 2GB or 4GB RAM and 16GB of flash storage. The screen will be an 11-inch 1366×768 display with 720p front-facing webcam. You’ll get two USB 3 sockets plus HDMI in a case less than an inch thick and weighing under three pounds. Battery-life is said to be around 10 hours … 

Dell has said that it would be offered to educational institutions first, before going on public sale for less than $300.

Existing Chromebooks sit in the $200-300 range – couple that to the sleek form-factor and long battery-life, and you have an appealing proposition for students, consumers and small businesses alike. In contrast to Microsoft’s claims, for many users a Chromebook gives them all they need in a laptop. The only reason they aren’t more popular is that not enough people know they exist: something Microsoft’s own ad campaign is likely to correct …

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