Acer's new $249.99 Chromebook bound to spark price war

Acer's C720 Chromebook comes two days after HP and Google's Chromebook 11, which has an ARM chip.

Acer's latest 11.6-inch C720 Chromebook will sell for US$249.99, which is the lowest price yet in the newest wave of thin-and-light laptops with Google's Chrome OS.

The Acer Chromebook, announced on Thursday, will provide 8.5 hours of battery life. The laptop was shown last month and will run on an Intel Celeron processor based on the Haswell microarchitecture.

A C720 competitor will be Hewlett-Packard and Google's Chromebook 11, which provides 6.5 hours of battery and is priced at $279. The Chromebook 11 was announced this week and runs on an ARM-based Samsung Exynos processor.

Intel's Haswell processors were designed for PCs, and could give the Acer C720 Chromebook a performance advantage over HP's and Google's Chromebook 11. ARM processors were designed for smartphones and tablets.

The $249.99 price is a hike from C720's predecessor, the C710, which started selling earlier this year and is now priced starting at $199. Chromebook prices usually fall a few months after launch, as has happened with previous waves of Chromebooks. The most expensive Chromebook is Google's Pixel, which at US$1,299 is intended to showcase new laptop technologies such as processors and high-definition screens.

Chromebooks are considered an alternative to netbooks, and success of the devices may ultimately come down to the price of the product. Acer is hoping to sell more Chromebooks by pricing its product lower than the Chromebook 11.

At 19-millimeters thick, the C720 is 30 percent thinner than its predecessor, Acer said. The C720 weighs around 1.25 kilograms, making it heavier than the Chromebook 11, which is 1.04 kilograms.

The C720 screen will display images at a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, which is same as Chromebook 11. The C720 will have 16GB of solid-state storage, but Google will provide 100GB of free online storage for two years.

Other features in the C720 Chromebook include a high-definition webcam, an HDMI port, an SD card reader and USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports.

HP and Toshiba also plan to launch Chromebooks with Intel's Celeron processors. The Chrome OS code-base has been optimized to work with Intel's latest processors based on the Haswell microarchitecture.

Google is trying to expand into the desktop-computing market with Chrome OS. The company has had success with Chromebooks, and claims 5,000 schools are now using the thin-and-light laptops.

More Chromebook configurations will become available later this year, Acer said. The laptop will be available from Amazon.com and Best Buy in the U.S., though the company did not immediately comment on worldwide availability.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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