Acer’s brand new Chromebook 13 looks to address a lot of the key issues with the current crop of low-powered Chrome OS laptops. While mostChromebooks opt for middling resolution displays and low-end processors, Acer’s latest can be configured with a 1080p screen and a comparatively powerful CPU, while still providing an impressive 11 hours of battery life.
One of the biggest issues with low-end Chromebooks is that they’re routinely underpowered. You’re unlikely to run into any significant problems during casual internet browsing, but if you’re prone to opening up pages and pages of tabs, then you’ll notice some pretty significant speed issues. It’s not surprising given the low-cost nature of the platform, but it’s a problem nonetheless.
Happily, this shouldn’t be such an issue with the Chromebook 13. While still a mobile chip, the 2.3 GHz quad core Nvidia Tegra K1 CPU provides more processing power than we’re used to seeing in these laptops. The chip also packs 192 Kepler-based GPU cores, making for better graphics performance when watching video or playing casual, browser based games.
We rarely find cause to get excited about Chromebook displays. With the exceptions of the Chromebook Pixel and the 13-inch Samsung Chromebook 2, most of the laptops opt for 1,366 x 768 screens.
While this isn’t a big issue on smaller systems, the lower resolution starts to show on anything with a 13-inch display and up. There is a 1,366 x 768 version of the Acer Chromebook 13, but the two higher-end configurations offer 1,920 x 1,080 resolutions, providing a healthy 166 pixels per inch.
The new notebook is fairly thin and light, coming in at 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) with a thickness of 17 cm (0.67 in). Like a lot of other Chromebooks, it’s also fanless, meaning that operating noise should be practically non-existent. Port selection is also solid, with the machine offering two USB 3.0s, an HDMI port and an SD card reader.
At present, there are three models of the Chromebook 13 available. The base configuration features a lower resolution 1,366 x 768 display, 2 GB RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. The other two models are fitted with 1,920 x 1,080 displays, and offer either 2 GB RAM and a 16 GB SSD, or 4 GB RAM and 32 GB SSD storage. While it may seem like the base model is the weak link in the lineup, its lower resolution display actually affords it two hours extra battery life over the 1080p models, bringing it to a total of 13 hours on a single charge.
The Acer Chromebook 13 is up for pre-order now, with the three versions retailing for US$380, $300 and $280, respectively. Acer hasn’t committed to a firm release date just yet.