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Acer's Chromebook 13 runs Nvidia's Tegra K1 processor; prices start at $280

Melissa Riofrio | Aug. 12, 2014
Acer's new Chromebook 13, announced and available for pre-sale Monday, brings advanced processing power to a category that's better known for pushing cheaply made, basic browsing machines.

Throw another $20 on the table, and the $299 Chromebook 13 (CB5-311-T9B0) gives you a full-HD, 1920x1080 display. Now that's more like it. For the same price, the HP Chromebook 14's screen, while even larger, is still stuck at plain, old HD.

Just as important to most people is the keyboard — or it should be, because we're using it constantly. Most Chromebook keyboards are hard-plastic, clackety affairs that are uncomfortable to type on for long periods.

The Acer Chromebook 13 prototype I tried had island-style keys that felt pretty nice and seemed to have a gentler travel. Let's hope the shipping version is the same or better. The prototype trackpad was large and seemed responsive.

Both of the above Chromebook 13 models come with 2GB of memory and a 16GB SSD drive. A third version (CB5-311-T1UU) comes with the 1920x1080 display, 4GB of memory, and a 32GB SSD. It will cost $380.

On the left side of the Acer Chromebook 13 you'll find an SD card reader and a USB 3.0 port. A second USB 3.0 port and an HDMI port sit in back, underneath the display hinge. On the right side, there's a combination microphone/headphone jack, plus the AC jack. A 720p camera nestles above the display.

Connectivity is still important for any Chromebook, and the Acer Chromebook 13 doesn't skimp. It offers 802.11ac Wi-Fi and a 2x2 MIMO antenna for good throughput.

The matte-white case color doesn't excite me. I worry it will show dirt quickly, but at least it's cheerier than basic black.

All three Acer Chromebook 13 models go on pre-sale Monday: The CB5-311-T9B0 (Full HD, $300) through BestBuy.com, and the CB5-311-T7NN (HD, $280) and CB5-311-T1UU (Full HD, more memory and storage, $380) through Amazon.com. Acer indicated the models would ship the first week of September.

We're looking forward to trying this interesting new creature as soon as we can get it. Are you? Let us know in the comments.

 

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