Chromebooks grow up: Acer rolls out a 15.6-inch killer machine

Bigger means better for Chromebooks

Acer Chromebook 15

Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571 with a Broadwell processor.

Credit: Acer

It's official: Chromebooks have entered the business world with the release of the first 15.6-inch Chromebook. Acer's just-announced machine also has a surprisingly low price.

The big news about Acer's new Chromebook being announced at CES is its screen, and with good reason -- it's the world's first 15.6-inch Chromebook. You've got two choices: A full HD display with 1920 by 1080 resolution or an HD screen with 1366 by 768 resolution. As for a processor, you get your choice of the 5th Generation Intel Core i3 or the next generation Intel Celeron processor. Either is more than enough to provide plenty of power for the low-demand Chrome operating system.

As for ports and wireless, it has 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE, and USB 3.0, USB 2.0 and HDMI ports. You'll have your choice of 16GB or 32GB SSD drives and either 2GB or 4GB or RAM. There's also an SD card reader. The machine's big screen means a much heavier Chromebook than typical: 4.85 pounds. Acer claims it will get eight hours of battery life. If you've ever felt constrained by the typically small touchpads on Chromebooks, you'll be pleased to know that Acer claims the new machine's touchpad will be the largest on any Chromebook.

How about price? At the low end, anyway, it will be surprisingly affordable: $250 for the machine with the least RAM, smallest hard disk, Celeron processor, and screen with the lesser resolution. That's quite a deal. No pricing has been announced for other configurations.

This new machine will be Chromebook's next big test. When Chromebooks were intially announced, many people said they'd quickly go the way of flash-in-a-pan netbooks. That hasn't happened. They typically fill up Amazon's list of best-selling laptops, and the top three laptops sold during the holidays were Chromebook. Now it's time to see whether they can gain wide acceptance in the business world as well.

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