Acer Tuesday announced a new Chromebook that challenges Apple's MacBook Air -- at least as far as the design is concerned. The new, inexpensive laptop is made from aluminum and boasts some impressive specifications for the price.
Acer is clearly gunning for those who are envious of Apple's slim laptop. The Chromebook 14 is a slender notebook that bears more than a passing resemblance to Apple's portable machine. Acer says the Chromebook 14 has rounded corners and a brushed aluminum finish, a nice change from the plastic laptops Acer typically produces. Measuring 13.4 by 9.3 by 0.7 inches, the device is easy to carry around. It weighs in at 3.42 pounds.
The Chromebook 14 includes a 14-inch full HD screen. The in-plane switching (IPS) LED-backlit panel has a 16:9 aspect ratio. It is powered by an Intel Celeron N3060 dual-core processor clocked at 1.6 GHz. The chip includes Intel Burst technology that can push speeds up to 2.48 GHz when needed. The processor is joined by 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM, 32 GB of internal storage, and Intel HD graphics.
Connectivity is handled via dual-band WiFi. The 802.11ac radio relies on 2x2 MIMO technology for fast wireless surfing. The Chromebook 14 has Bluetooth 4.2 for connecting to accessories. The laptop includes two USB 3.0 ports, and one HDMI connector with HDCP support.
Acer gave the Chromebook 14 a three-cell, 3,950 mAh battery with up to 12 hours of life that easily extends through an entire work day. A 1366 x 768 resolution variant of the Chromebook 14 offers 14 hours of battery life. Acer didn't put a price point on the lower-res version.
A few other niceties are onboard. Chromebook 14 owners can enjoy music, due to stereo speakers. Web chats are captured by the 720p HD webcam, which has an 88-degree field of view and High Dynamic Range for improved contrast.
The Acer Chromebook 14 runs Google's Chrome operating system. It's lightweight and always up-to-date thanks to constant support from Google. Google pitches Chrome as more secure than other platforms due to frequent security patches. Google says offline versions of Docs, Sheets, and Slides are included, so mobile professionals can remain productive even without WiFi. Any changes made to work documents are synced back to the cloud once connectivity is restored. Google gives Chromebook owners 100 GB of free online storage with the device.
Acer is selling the Chromebook 14 via Amazon for $299.99. It is available for preorder beginning today. The company didn't say how soon the device might ship.Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio