Books & Review
Updated: Nov 12, 2012 03:25 PM EST

chromebook

The Acer C7 Chromebook joins the Samsung Chromebook and Samsung Chromebook 550 in the current lineup of computers running Google's cloud-based Chrome operating system. (Photo : Google)

Google's already low-priced Chromebook series of web-based laptops just got even cheaper. Only a week before the start of Black Friday sales, Google and Acer will release an 11.6-inch netbook, the C7, from Acer for $199 Nov. 13.

The Acer C7 Chromebook joins the Samsung Chromebook and Samsung Chromebook 550 in the current lineup of computers running Google's cloud-based Chrome operating system.

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The latest model boasts an Intel processor, full-size keyboard, and clickable trackpad. It has a 320GB hard drive and 100GB of additional storage, free for two years, on Google drive. The C7 boots in 18 seconds and gets 3.5 hours of battery life, Google says.

There are trade-offs involved with the lower price, though. The C7 gets three hours less battery life than the Samsung Chromebooks released last month, which start at just $50 more. It's also thicker, boots slower, and lacks the 3G capabilities of the Samsung 550.

Of course, many people voiced similar doubts that the Samsung Chromebooks could compete. The Wi-Fi only version of the Google Samsung Chromebook captured the No. 1 spot on Amazon's bestseller list, beating Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air, with most reviews noting there's plenty of bang packed into that low price tag.

The same argument could easily be made for the C7. At $199, the C7 could prove tempting this holiday season for consumers who do most of their computing online. Google is marketing the device as easier to share than conventional laptops, since users log in with their Google accounts and will see only their own files when they do.

The C7 goes on sale tomorrow in the U.S. on the Google Play store, at BestBuy.com, and in some Best Buy stores. In the U.K., shoppers can find it at Google Play, Amazon UK, PC World, and Currys. It will be coming to more countries "soon," Google said.

Bigger isn't always better -- even when it comes to hardware. That's the bet Google and Samsung make its Chromebook laptop computers.

"To us, Chrome OS represents the most distilled form of cloud computing we can find," said Google Senior Vice President of Chrome Sundar Pichai introducing the new Samsung Chromebook at a San Francisco event Oct. 18.

Instead of using locally stored programs, Google's Chromebook series of netbooks relies on Web-based apps like Gmail, Google Docs and Google Drive to extend its storage capacity.

Google markets the laptops as some of the most user-friendly computing devices available. Google emphasizes that Chromebooks automatically install security updates and require minimal maintenance from users. Google claims the new model boots up in less than 10 seconds, and offers 1080p video. While the device includes 16GB of local SSD storage, buyers also get 100GB of cloud-based Google Drive storage for two years.

"For folks living entirely in the cloud, the Chromebook is now a primary computer", said Pichai, implying that most users were not yet ready for the new machines. "Many people use the Chromebook today as the perfect additional computer for their home," he said.

The Chromebook is squarely aimed at people who want another device lying around the house, but don't expect it to do much more than browsing, word processing, and maybe watching the occasional video on Youtube.

Chromebook runs on Chrome OS, which, for those unaware, puts a version of Google's Chrome browser on top of a Linux foundation, where Linux PCs run Linux apps, though, Chrome OS devices run browser apps.

Acer Chromebook specs ($199)

11.6" (1368 x 768) HD Widescreen CineCrystalTM LED-backlit LCD

2.95 lbs. | 1.34 kg.

6 hours of battery life

1.66 GHz Intel AtomTM N570 Dual-Core Processor

16GB SDD

2GB RAM Standard System Memory

Instant On (8-second boot time)

Built in dual-band Wi-Fi and World-mode 3G (optional)

1.3 megapixel HD Webcam with noise cancelling microphone

High-Definition Audio Support

2 USB 2.0 ports

4-in-1 memory card slot

HDMI port

Fullsize Chrome keyboard

Oversize fully-clickable trackpad

Full support for the latest web standards and Adobe Flash

802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi

Optional world-mode 3G available

Google, Samsung Chromebook specs ($249)

Display Size

11.6-inches

Display

1366x768 resolution; 200nit brightness

Weight

2.43 lbs (1.1.kg)

Thickness

Less than 0.8 inches thick (17.5 mm)

Battery Life

Over 6.5 hours

Processor

Samsung Exynos 5250

Memory

2GB

Storage

16GB SSD (Google is including 100GB free online storage)

Webcam

Ports

1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, combo headphone/mic jack, secure digital memory slot, HDMI Port

Extra

Bluetooth 3.0TM Compatible

Speaker

1.5W speaker X 2

Keyboard

Full-size Chrome keyboard

Wireless

802.11 abg/n 2x2

MSRP

$249 USD / 229 GBP

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