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The revolution begins?

Hey, remember Chrome OS?

You wouldn't be alone if you didn't. Google's proposed browser-only operating system sounded like the future of everything when they first started talking about it a few years ago. But then Android evolved from scrappy startup to iPhone-beater and tablet-powerer and now no-one's really sure what ChromeOS is for.

Well, we'll soon start to find out, because the first ChromeOS hardware isn't far away. And the first piece we've seen - notwithstanding Google's specially-made trial kit the CR-48 - is probably quite indicative of the way things will go: it's a low-end, low-cost netbook, made by Samsung and dubbed the 'Alex'.

It's not official, but information about it has leaked to blogs like CrunchGear and Engadget. And it looks kinda cool, we guess: powered by a 1.5GHz processor with 2GB of RAM and a 1366x768 display, presumably of about 11 inches, it ought to be a cheap, long-battery-life'd knockabout laptop. Rumour has it that Google is going to look at some very innovative sales techniques, such as monthly rentals, for Chrome OS laptops, so we wouldn't be surprised to find you can get one of these for £15 a month in a few months time.

Even more interesting might be the other device, codenamed 'Seaboard'. Not much is known about this, but what we do know is that it's set to be a touchscreen device, possibly a tablet. This'll be interesting, purely because nobody knows how Android and ChromeOS will compete in the tablet space.

So if you're bored of Apple v Android and want the software scene shaken up a bit, sit tight. A new challenger, albeit one very closely related to one of the existing challengers, is about to enter the ring.

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