Samsung’s Chromebook is hitting UK shores this week, but how does it work? What else will be available that uses ? And what about the data?

All is revealed after the break. Don’t buy a Chromebook until you’ve read it!

Chrome is ’s operating system that’s always online. That’s right, you do everything through the Cloud (hello, Docs!), meaning super quick start up times, and no headaches if your laptop crashes, as everything is always backed up. You can also access your documents wherever you are, as long as you can get online, so no need to have that vital USB key with you.

“Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS,” reads the blog post introducing the concept back in 2009. “We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.”

Like Android, it’s open source, so anyone can write add-ons for it, but it’s a completely different project to Android, which focusses on mobiles and tablets.

So with everything happening online, how is the data going to work? We chatted to Three UK for the lowdown. A SIM comes with your Chromebook, with 3GB of data for 90 days – whichever expires first (not quite as great a deal as in the US, where Verizon is providing 100MB free data every month). Then you just top up as normal. If you’ve not got Wi-Fi, coverage is going to be pretty essential, or your shiny new Chromebook will just be a paperweight. “From our point of view, we have a lot of faith in our coverage,” says David Kerrigan from Three UK’s mobile broadband team. He says no money changed hands in forming the partnership with Google. “There was no money involved whatsoever in either direction. They’re very closely aligned with us in our thinking….it just sort of grew out of that relationship.”

So what about the all important gear? The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook is the first to land this week (though Wi-Fi only – you’ll have to wait until July 20th for the 3G version, according to Amazon ), with a 12.1-inch screen, and 8.5 hours battery use, while Acer’s has an 11.6-inch screen, with six hours of battery. Both have 16GB flash drives, which is plenty considering you’ll be storing almost everything to the Cloud. The Wi-Fi only version of the Samsung will cost £349, full Wi-Fi and 3G £399; there’s no price yet for the Acer. Samsung also has a Chromebox incoming: it looks a little like an TV, and undoubtedly means a desktop version of Chrome is on its way.

It’s the dawning of a new computing era. Exciting times indeed.

017077c1f450x150.jpg Chrome OS UK launch: everything you need to know

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Chrome OS UK launch: everything you need to know