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8/11/2014
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Acer Chromebook 13 Breaks New Ground

Acer's latest Chromebook models deliver an Nvidia Tegra K1 processor, a 13.3-inch full HD display, and sub-$400 price tags.

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Acer on Monday announced the Chromebook 13, a family of laptops meant to tempt the budget- and performance-minded buyer. The Chromebook 13 is among the first to use a Tegra K1 processor under the hood, and is also Acer's first in the 13.3-inch segment. With three options across various price points, there's a lot to like about the Chromebook 13.

Acer is offering the Chromebook 13 with two different screen resolutions. The base model's display will include 1366 x 768 pixels, and the top-end model's display will have 1920 x 1080 full HD resolution. Both screens include Acer's ComfyView anti-glare coatings to minimize light reflection, and Acer claims they also provide a wide range of colors and good contrast. The lower-resolution model will be paired with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of onboard storage. The high-resolution model will come in two configurations: 2 GB of RAM with 16 GB of storage, or 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. White is the only color option available.

The Acer Chromebook 13 uses the Nvidia Tegra K1 4-Plus-1 2.1-GHz quad-core ARM Cortex A15 CPU, which includes a third-generation battery-saver core to provide up to 13 hours of battery life (11 hours for the HD model). The Tegra K1 uses Nvidia's Kepler architecture-based GPU with 192 programmable GPU cores to process graphics. The K1 is the same processor buried inside Nvidia's Sheila gaming tablet. The company believes it is up to the task of running a Chromebook, and Acer apparently agrees. Acer's previous Chrome, the C720, used an Intel processor.

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The Chromebook 13 uses a fanless design, which keeps noise down and allows Acer to keep the dimensions in check. It measures just 0.71 inches thick and weighs 3.31 pounds. It's not the lightest device on the market, but it's no heavyweight, either. The larger display means the Chromebook 13 has a full-sized keyboard for more comfortable typing. The Chromebook 13 features an array of ports and connectivity options. It relies on 802.11ac WiFi for Internet and includes two USB 3.0 ports, a full HDMI port for screen sharing, an SD card slot for additional storage, and stereo speakers. The device includes a 720p HD video camera for Web chats and video capture, as well as a microphone. Last, it includes Bluetooth 4.0, and the lithium ion battery stores 3220 mAh.

Chrome OS supports multiple users, frequent system updates and patches, and hooks into all Google's online apps and services, including Gmail, Docs, Drive, Google Play, and the 30,000 or so apps available in the Chrome app store.

The entry-level model is priced at $280, the midrange model is priced at $300, and the top-end model is priced at $380. The devices can be preordered from Amazon.com and Best Buy, and are expected to ship in September.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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KenMPischke
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KenMPischke,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/13/2014 | 5:50:00 PM
Re: $400
Gary, Now you're thinking like a true Ninja. Welcome to the Cloud.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
8/13/2014 | 2:58:16 PM
Re: $400
Well, the main reason is that I'd like to have access to things when the internet is down. And, if I'm using Ubuntu, the applications do take up storage space. But, I suppose you're right, and fetting over things like storage is sorta living in the past.
KenMPischke
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KenMPischke,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/13/2014 | 2:29:54 PM
Re: $400
Gary, Why do you need storage any longer with options like Google Drive? Storage should only be used for application space at best.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
8/13/2014 | 9:39:19 AM
Re: $400
What I like about the Chromebook is that there are no updates or AV/endpoint security to worry about, besides the obvious phishing/password good hygiene. 
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
8/12/2014 | 8:56:23 PM
Re: $400
Well, I am a cynic, and instead I bought a dirt-cheap netbook running Ubuntu on eBay, which is just as well, as I've always liked Linux and Unix.  But, just like a Chromebooks customer, I can use Google Docs. And it seems that a lot of other people are, too. At another site, I write about free templates available online for word processors, and if you search for a specific type of template, there will be almost as many listed specifically for Google Docs as for MS Word.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
8/12/2014 | 11:49:48 AM
Re: $400
If I were a cynic I'd suspect that the salesperson was trying to steer you to something with a higher margin ...
ANON1249547663249
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ANON1249547663249,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/12/2014 | 10:54:47 AM
Current ChromeBook User
Earlier this year I picked up an Acer C720, my first foray into this platform. I've got to say I love the thing! Prior to it had an Asus Transformer with optional keyboard dock and that was nice but not quite well suited for what it was needed for.  Sold that and took the proceeds to purchase the Acer - and am really glad I did.  The majority of what I do tends to be on the web and the size, price, portability, functionality and performance is more than adequate.  Even have a guy in the office who's non-tech and demoed it to him; he's looking to getting one.  This tool for me works really well. 
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
8/11/2014 | 8:29:29 PM
Re: $400
I looked into buying a Chromebook during January of this year. I asked at a computer store whose sales people have a reputation for being technically asute, and that's where I got my information. Is this a new capability, or did they completely drop the ball? In either case, thanks very much for this very valuable tip and the informative URL.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
8/11/2014 | 7:41:30 PM
Re: Only comes in white
I think ARM-based devices are the future of computing hardware. Many of Intel's processors require a fan to dissipate heat, and that's simply not an economical design anymore. 

I have heard that Intel is testing out ARM-based designs, and that's a smart move. Apple is supposedly considering moving away from Intel and onto ARM for PCs, which I think is smart – it will reduce power consumption and probably prolong overall battery life. 
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
8/11/2014 | 4:02:29 PM
Re: $400
Chromebooks actually can be used when offline. It depends on the apps, but the major Google ones can be used offline:

https://support.google.com/chromebook/answer/3214688?hl=en

 
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