TAIWANESE HARDWARE FIRM Acer has launched its C720 Chromebook powered by Intel's latest Haswell chip in the UK for £199.
Previously seen at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) last month, when the chipmaker flashed an upcoming range of Haswell Chromebooks during a keynote, the Acer C720 is expected to offer much faster performance and up to 8.5 hours of battery life.
Previous Chromebooks have always been pretty fast in our tests, delivering what we expected of them as web browsing machines, so the addition of Intel's Haswell processor in the C720 is perhaps not a necessity in terms of performance. However, with limited software availability on Chrome OS, and since the Chromebook is mostly intended for web browsing, we expect that the main advantage of the Haswell chip is the boost in battery life, from four hours in earlier generations to 8.5 hours for the C750.
When we got a hands-on with the Acer C720 at IDF in September, we were lacking sufficient knowledge of the device's internal specifications. Acer has now released these, announcing that the Chromebook will launch with an Intel Celeron 2955U processor chip, 4GB of DDR3L memory, a USB 2.0 port and a USB 3.0 port and 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi as standard.
The Acer C720 also touts an 11.6in screen with 1366x768 resolution. In our hands-on, the screen wasn't the best quality display, but it is made from a matte, anti-glare material to avoid reflecting direct light.
Acer's C720 is the firm's third generation Chromebook and has a slimmer design that's 30 percent thinner than its predecessor, measuring 19mm thick.
When we got a chance to handle the Acer C720, we found that the its gunmetal finish chassis gave it an advantage in appearance over other, cheaper looking Chromebooks, while making it look much sturdier than it probably is. That said, it did feel pretty robust, being made from a strong plastic that gives the impression that the laptop would withstand a drop from waist level, at least when closed.
Acer has confirmed that the Chromebook weighs 1.3 kg, which is 0.3kg heavier than HP's Chromebook 11 that was launched in the UK yesterday.
Another point that we liked about the Acer C720's design was the hinge, which allowed for a rather extensive screen tilt angle.
The Acer C750 has a 16GB SSD onboard, meaning that it boots up in just seven seconds. The last, non-Haswell powered Acer C7 Chromebook had a 320GB hard drive, so this updated system should prove to be much nippier in comparison. Google also bundles 100GB of free cloud storage with the Chromebook, free for the first two years.
It was only yesterday that HP joined forces with Google to launch its HP Chromebook 11, an 11in notebook running Google's Chrome OS operating system and priced at £229. This is only HP's second Google Chromebook and its first 11in model. It has a fanless CPU for silent operation and a microUSB charging port for easier and more accessible recharging.
Acer said the C720 Chromebook will be available "at end of October" via Currys and PC World for £30 less than HP's latest Chromebook model, with a starting price of £199. µ