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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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