It seems we're not through with new Chromebooks yet. Google's tagline for their lightweight PC operating system initiative is "Chromebooks for Everyone," and to that end they are racing to the bottom when it comes to price. The latest new Chromebook, comes from longtime Chrome OS partner Acer, and is dubbed the C7. Where the latest Samsung Chromebook is notable for its ARM architecture, the Acer C7 is a much more traditional choice, whose primary goal was containing costs. But when low cost is the target, sacrifices are made. 

 

Firstly, the comparison point for this device shouldn't necessarily be its immediate competition, the new Samsung Chromebook, but rather that notebook's immediate predecessor the Samsung Series 5 550. This was the flagship for the last generation of Chromebooks and was notable for its Intel Core-based Celeron 867 processor, 4GB of RAM and capable 16GB NAND storage. The improvement in performance over prior Chromebooks was palpable because of the increased CPU and GPU performance. The Acer C7 is, generally, a step back in all specifications. The processor is the slightly slower Celeron 847, the RAM drops to 2GB and the NAND storage is omitted in favor of a traditional mechanical drive. The 320GB mechanical drive is the biggest concession to cost savings, as it makes almost no sense for an OS so clearly focused on the cloud. It also likely contributes to the battery life penalty this iteration takes; a paltry 3.5 hours, hardly a road warrior then. And if this looks at all familiar, it's because you previously came across the Acer Aspire One AO756-2641. That Windows 8 netbook matches the C7 down to the design and the sub-4 hour battery life.

But the reward for all these concessions? A price of just $199, less than half what Samsung's Series 5 550 goes for still, and slightly more than $100 below the Windows iteration. The price includes 100GB of Google Drive for two years, and 12 GoGo inflight WiFi sessions, and is surely the cheapest way to a Core-based system, even if it is a Celeron. One thing is clear, no matter the market, Google intends to compete if not dominate on price. And if that means better gear at lower prices, there's little room for us to complain. 

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  • LogOver - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    Celeron is noticiable faster than exynos.
    http://gigaom.com/mobile/intel-v-arm-the-chromeboo...

    + you get the ability to stream video (including netflix)
    + getting rid of custom crashing with latest samsung chromebook.
    Reply
  • SM123456 - Saturday, November 17, 2012 - link

    The Acer has a mechanical HDD which is a lot slower than the SSD on the $250 ARM Chromebook, and this slows down a lot of operations - case in point the ARM device has a 10 sec book time compared to an 18 sec boot time for the Acer. This will considerably slow down a lot of operations as some reviews have noted.

    The Acer is also clocked at 1.1 GHz instead of 1.3 GHz for the Samsung 550 Celeron Chromebook, and has 2GB of RAM instead of 4GB. This will mean the Acer is slower than the Samsung device benchmarked.

    One other thing about the ARM Chromebook is that the GPU and hardware media acceleration is really good, and matches or exceeds the HD3000 Intel GPU in performance. With the ARM processor, multi-media and codec processing is handled by the hardware alone leaving the CPU unburdened. Therefore although the Exynos 5 ARM CPU might look about 2/3rds of the performance of the Intel Celeron Chromebook on paper, the Intel Celeron CPU will slow down if it has to use the CPU for codec processing at the same time as it does general processing, while the ARM CPU will not because it uses dedicated hardware. In any case, the CPU performance will only be critical for intensive flash or HTML5 processing - ie. Flash or HTML5 Javascript games. For normal rich web browsing the graphics and multi-media decoding is what governs speed, not the CPU.

    Most reviewers who have run a comparison on both the ARM and Celeron Samsung Chromebooks have commented that it is difficult to tell the difference between the two except if you open 20 or more active tabs, in which case the ARM device slows down a little due to the 2GB of RAM rather than 4GB. In the case of the Acer Celeron Chromebook, this slowdown should be far more noticeable because paging from RAM to disk will be half the speed as the ARM Chromebook's SSD, and unlike Javascript execution speed where a 50% increase in speed will reduce execution time from 0.2 secs to 0.1secs saving 0.1 sec, this is something that will affect the overall speed a lot because the time saved paging to SSD rather than RAM will be seconds not milliseconds.
    Reply
  • iwod - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    This is not Netbook Atom CPU, but a proper Dual Core SandyBridge 1.1Ghz CPU.
    Intel actually has very decent Linux Graphics Drivers.

    320GB Storage.

    If you think of it as purely not as a Netbook, Chromebook, but a Notebook with Media And Internet function this seems like a good deal. For those who use it only with Office Work and Internet browsing.

    I hope in future version they could allow 8GB RAM version, you could run everything in memory and still get most the snappiess without an SSD.
    Reply
  • blckgrffn - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I really want to see a break down of this - including if it is possible to get an SSD in there.

    Also, a short guide on putting something like Mint on there and how well that worked out of the box would be very interesting.
    Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Call this heresy if you want, but can these things be loaded up with Windows? It might be fun to put 7 and a whole bunch of classic games on it , kind of like a PC Gamer's GameBoy. At $200 it's cheap enough to be worth it. Reply
  • LogOver - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    This chromebook is actually renamed Acer Aspire AO756 which you can buy from bestbuy for $250 (including Windows7 Home Premium 64-bit and faster CPU):
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Acer+-+Aspire+One+11.6...
    Reply
  • SM123456 - Saturday, November 17, 2012 - link

    The prices at the budget end of the Windows laptop market seems to have crashed very recently. These machines cost a lot more a couple of months ago. This would seem to indicate that the Acer Aspire AO756 and other budget Windows laptops and netbooks aren't selling, and are being sold cheap to clear surplus stock. The fact that Acer's $199 Chromebook is a re-purposed Windows laptop with a 320 GB HDD more appropriate to Windows and a lousy battery life rather than one with 16GB SSD supports this.

    I would suggest that the $199 Acer Chromebook is an interim device which will be sold until Acer can get sufficient supplies of the Exynos Soc to do a proper competing design to the Samsung ARM based Chromebook.
    Reply
  • SM123456 - Saturday, November 17, 2012 - link

    There is a developer switch on it, so you can install Linux or Windows on it if you want. Reply
  • joanie - Friday, October 04, 2013 - link

    i just bought the 11 inch screen version i really like it bought at wallmart for 199.00 around 11 at nite, small enough for ttravel /model joanie bosserman 10-2013 Reply

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