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Google and Dell team up on the first Chromebooks made for business

Finally, enterprise-grade Chromebooks for serious business.
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The next time you get a laptop from your company's IT department, you might be getting a Chromebook. Not that you couldn't already get a Chromebook from your office, but these offer extra security and organizational features that might leave IT professionals more reassured. The Dell Latitude 5400 Chromebook Enterprise and Dell Latitude 5300 2-in-1 Chromebook Enterprise were born from a partnership between Dell and Google, though the latter also has some updates around Chrome OS enterprise to share today. Unwieldy names aside, these new machines are based on existing models of Dell's Latitude laptops, except they run Chrome OS. So don't be surprised if you find them familiar.

Aside from the Chrome logo on the keyboard and the OS they're running, the two new laptops look nearly identical to their existing Latitude stablemates. They share a similar bland, black design that you'd expect from a company-issued machine -- like the BlackBerries of laptops. Like most work laptops, these Chromebooks have comfortable keyboards, though using a Chrome-optimized layout so you'll find a Language button in place of a Windows Start key. The 5300 2-in-1 and 5400 clamshell sport 13-inch and 14-inch screens respectively, both running at Full HD.

Gallery: Dell Latitude Chromebook Enterprise hands-on | 12 Photos

Both Latitudes will pack up to 8th-generation Intel Core i7 CPUs, and will be the first Chromebooks to offer up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM and enterprise-class SSDs of up to 1TB. They can also be configured with LTE radios for connections at up to 450 Mbps on the go. These guts may sound a little overkill for Chromebooks, but seem pretty par for the course, as far as typical work laptops go.

What makes these different from the existing Chromebooks that your organization can already hand out is the behind-the-scenes stuff catering for your IT departments' needs.

Businesses currently using Chromebooks can add the new Chrome Enterprise Upgrade and make use of the new Google Admin console for Chrome OS, which Google said provides 10-times faster load times. This will allow admins to enable a managed Linux environment on Chromebooks, which will let them grant access to specific users as well as offer VPN support for internal files. These are all backed by Dell's Unified Workspace program that IT administrators can use to oversee their entire organizations' fleet of devices across different operating systems and from the cloud.

Specifically on the new Latitude enterprise Chromebooks, IT professionals will appreciate that they come with year-round 24/7 Dell ProSupport as well as Chrome Enterprise support. They'll also be able to conveniently add G Suite and Drive Enterprise via Dell, which will take on the task of reselling the Google service. This will let employees use apps like Docs, Sheets and Slides natively on the Chromebooks without worrying about remaining online.

The Dell Latitude Chromebook Enterprise laptops are available to order from August 27th, starting at $699 for the 5400 and $819 for the 5300 2-in-1. Not that this should matter to you, anyway, since it's not like you'd be the one going out to buy them (unless you're in charge of your organization's laptop orders). But if you're a hardcore Chrome OS fan who's been wanting a company-issued Chromebook or your company's IT administrator, this could be exciting news for you.

And for the rest of us, if nothing else, at least there'll more options to choose from the next time we're upgrading our work laptops.

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