OS X Lion features could make Google Chromebooks tough sell

A browser-only mode expected with Apple's new desktop OS could add competition for other firms with a similar product

Apple's new version of its desktop operating system is expected to allow quick access to the Internet without having to log back in when your system is locked.

The feature would be a welcome addition for Apple customers, as well as added competition for other firms that are rolling out devices that are essentially browsers in a box.

MacRumors says Apple has stuck a browser-only mode called "Restart to Safari" into OS X Lion, the forthcoming version of Apple's desktop operating system. The feature reportedly appears as an option on Lion's lock screen giving you access to a sandboxed version of the Safari browser. You wouldn't be able to access your desktop applications or other computer files from the browser-only mode.

The new feature could dim the sales prospects for Google's Chrome OS-based Chromebooks.

Acer and Samsung will be the first out of the gate with Chromebooks (available for pre-order now) on Wednesday that are priced from $380-$500. The new browser-based notebooks are sleek, well-built and relatively fast. But the biggest downside of these devices is they are simply browsers in a box and almost nothing else. The $500 model of Samsung's Series 5 Chromebook features Chrome OS, a 12.1-inch screen with WXGA 1280 x 800 resolution, 1.66GHz Intel Atom processor, 16GB mSATA SSD, 2GB RAM, two USB 2.0 ports, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity.

Contrast that with a $1000 MacBook Air running Lion -- due out in July -- featuring an 11.6-inch screen with 1366-by-768 resolution, 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB RAM, 64GB flash storage, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, two USB 2.0 ports, and a Mini DisplayPort. You'll also get a full operating system and, if the reports are true, a browser-only mode for those times when you need quick Internet access. The only downside to this set-up might be how well Lion runs on the cheapest MacBook Air. Lion requires a computer with 2GB RAM and at least a Core 2 Duo processor, but it's unclear how Lion performs on minimum specs.

At $1000, the cheapest MacBooks cost twice as much as a Chromebook, but you get the advantage of having a full desktop operating system. Add to that the instant on feature found in Apple's latest MacBook Air models, and Chrome OS becomes a much tougher sell.

Connect with Ian Paul ( @ianpaul ) and Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags desktopGooglechromebookhardware systemsdesktop pcssoftwareoperating systemsacerchromeApple

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?