Google on Monday announced the latest addition to the Chromebook line, the Acer C7, which goes on sale on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Starting at $199, the C7 is less expensive even than the new Samsung Chromebook, which starts at $249.
However, such affordability comes at a price: The C7 includes a fan to cool its CPU, an Intel dual-core Celeron 847. As a result, users might have to endure the drone of the fan when running computationally intensive Web applications.The Samsung Chromebook relies on an ARM-based chip, which runs cool enough that no fan is required.
The C7 ships with a 320-GB hard drive and with 100 GB of free cloud-based storage on Google Drive for two years. A Google spokesperson said there will be no option for 3G networking on the C7.
[ Read Samsung Chromebook: Hands-On Review. ]
The 11.6" screen has a 1366-by-768-pixel display, the same as the Samsung Chromebook. The C7, however, weighs more, coming in at 3 lbs., compared to the Samsung's 2.43 lbs. Acer says battery life is 3.5 hours.
The C7 features dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Ethernet networking support, an HD camera, three USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI port, and one VGA port.
But Chromebooks are less about specs than about freedom from administrative burdens. Chromebooks are computers for people who don't want to maintain computers. Google recognizes that Chromebooks aren't yet ready to replace Linux, Mac or Windows laptops among power users, which is why the company has begun positioning them as "a great additional computer for your family," as Sundar Pichai, senior VP of Chrome and apps, put it in a blog post.
Google has not disclosed sales figures for the Chromebooks offered by its hardware partners. However, consumers might be warming to them: The new Samsung Chromebook is currently the most popular laptop at Amazon.com.