Samsung has announced the long-awaited Chromebook 2 and the full specification is a shock to the system. This Chromebook is a $400 (£250) 8-core computer mid-range laptop.

It is starting to become clear why Microsoft has become so alarmed about the Chromebook’s evolution, enough to reportedly be consider ditching its licence fee for cheaper PCs. Seen until now as a budget option, the Chromeboook is starting to look like a viable mid-range home and education machine.

There are two models; an 11.6 inch model featuring 4GB of RAM and costing $320 (no UK pricing yet), and a $400 big brother with a 13.3inch screen. Both feature 4GB of low-voltage RAM, a 720p webcam, USB 3.0, HDMI, and a MicroSD slot that will please users looking for some onboard storage expansion.

The processor on the 13.3 inch model is the Exynos 5 octa-core 5422 processor, which features four ARM Cortex A-15 chips that run at 2.1 GHz plus another four Cortex A-7 units running at up to 1.7 Ghz, an odd hybrid but a big bump up from the Exynos 5 Dual-core part in Samsung’s current Chromebook. The 11.6 inch model will run a slightly slower version of the same.

The system boots from the same 16GB-sized flash drive as previous models but based this time around iNAND embedded flash. Battery life is quoted at 8.5 hours.

The Chromebook 2 is sure to arouse a lot of interest but attention will still focus on the quality and viewing angles of the 1920 x 1080 (13.3 inch) and 1366-x-768 (11.6 inch) screen. Despite its higher price and spec, screens are one of the first places PC builders look to economise. It will also have to prove itself against the excellent Intel Haswell processors used in rival Chromebooks, the best of which deliver startling performance and battery life.

If it’s half-decent, the cheap PC segment could be in for some interesting times.

The Chromebook 2 will be available next month in black and white with the much-trailed fake leather finish on the back of the display unit.