Google to Give Away Chrome OS Notebooks for $10-$20/Month Subscription?

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If the recent rumors are true, you'll soon be able to get a Chrome OS notebook as a subscription from Google for $10-$20 a month.

According to a report from Neowin , the new Google notebook (probably similar to the Cr-48 test notebook) will be available in late June/early July with this subscription model, which will also include hardware refreshes and repairs. So you'll always have an up-to-date laptop, albeit one that's more browser than mean machine.

When my PCWorld colleague Edward N. Albro first looked at the Cr-48, Google's prototype Chrome OS computer, he found it "little more than a browser in a box" (even though it can be hacked to run Mac OS X and Windows). Because of this, a decision by Google to give the hardware away and just charge a monthly fee makes great sense.

The Cr-48 drew mixed initial impressions all around, but it was only a beta preview for testers and the next iteration of the Google notebook could overcome the pilot notebook's shortcomings (lack of a caps-lock key, for example), while keeping its nice features (such as fast boot and resume times and over 8 hours of battery life). PCWorld blogger Jared Newman reported last month that Google confirmed on Twitter that Chrome OS notebooks would be coming mid-year. This jives with the Summer 2011 Chrome notebooks rumors we're now hearing.

It's an interesting concept--a cheap computer you can get for $240 a year--though not really revolutionary (anyone remember PeoplePC and other "free" PCs?). If a subscription plan isn't for you, Neowin reports that you'll be able to purchase the Chrome OS notebook in regular one-time payment fashion as well.

Computerworld has rounded up some comments that pretty much summarize my confused thoughts. What do you think? Will you be subscribing to a Google OS notebook?

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