Last year, one of the hottest selling laptops was Acer’s C710 Chromebook. Part of that of course was the fact that it was one of the least expensive laptops around, priced at $199 for the base model. There were drawbacks to that model of course: the display wasn’t great, it had 2GB RAM, 16GB SSD, and battery life was rated at up to four hours with the 37Wh 4-cell battery. Today, Acer announced the updated C720, now sporting a Haswell CPU in place of the previous model’s Sandy Bridge based Celeron 847. Here’s the quick specifications overview.

Acer Chromebook C720-2800 Specifications
Processor Intel Celeron 2955U
(Dual-core 1.4GHz, 2MB L3, 22nm, 15W)
Memory 4GB DDR3L
Graphics Intel HD Graphics
(10 EUs at 200-1000MHz)
Display 11.6" Anti-glare
Storage 16GB SSD
Networking 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi
Battery/Power 4-cell (?), up to 8.5 hours
Pricing MSRP: $249
$240 Pre-order at Amazon.com

There are a few major changes, starting of course with the Celeron 2955U processor. While that’s going to be the slowest Haswell CPU around, the 1.4GHz clock ends up being at least 27% faster than the Celeron 847 based on clock speed alone, and architectural enhancements mean it’s more likely to be in the 30-40% faster range. Acer states that the new C720 will boot up in less than seven seconds, allowing you to get straight to work (or fun). Along with the CPU upgrade, the iGPU will also be better/faster. Intel calls the base level graphics “HD Graphics” in all of their recent Celeron range, but where Sandy Bridge had 6 EUs with DX10 capability, Ivy Bridge added DX11 and Haswell increases the EUs to 10. It’s not a performance powerhouse iGPU by any stretch, but it should be sufficient for most uses.

RAM also gets an upgrade to 4GB this round, with DDR3L memory reducing the power use. Perhaps more importantly, the display has been updated to have an anti-glare coating. It’s still a 1366x768 panel, but the use of anti-glare instead of gloss means outdoor operation of the C720 will be far more tolerable. The chassis has also been refined, and Acer notes that the new model is 30% thinner, and the 2.76 lbs. weight is 11% less than the C710 weight of 3.1 pounds.

Wrapping up the changes and upgrades, the webcam is still present, and it’s now an HD webcam (I’m pretty sure the previous model was not HD). There’s also a USB 3.0 port along with a USB 2.0 port, allowing faster transfer of files from the appropriate hardware. Given the limited storage capacity of the 16GB SSD (most likely eMMC), which is one area that didn’t get upgraded on the base model, I’m not sure how important USB 3.0 will prove to be, but it’s certainly a welcome inclusion. HDMI output and the SD card reader continue to be present as well.

All of this results in not just better performance, but you get significantly better battery life. Acer rates the C720 at up to 8.5 hours, so more than double the battery life of the C710. It’s not clear if the battery is still the same capacity or if that changed as part of the update, but we know that Haswell is capable of lower power states than Ivy Bridge, and significantly lower power states than Sandy Bridge, so the improved battery life is expected.

The Acer C720-2800 will be available later this month, with pre-orders supposedly going up today on BestBuy.com and Amazon.com. At present they do not appear to be on the respective websites, but I will update with the appropriate links. Pricing is higher than the previous generation C710, with an MSRP of $249, but with all the various upgrades I don’t think the $50 increase is too much. The more pertinent question will be how the C720 stands up to its Chromebook competitors like the HP Chromebook 11, which has an IPS display and a 2.3 pound weight, but it uses an Exynos 5250 GAIA SoC with 2GB RAM and lacks USB 3.0 and the SD card reader. That’s currently available for $279, and hopefully we can answer the question of how the various models compare in the coming months.

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  • Drumsticks - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    I could be wrong, but isn't this way better than the HP for less money? You get more of pretty much everything except the display for less money. Acer could have a winner as far as chromebooks go, here. Reply
  • randomlinh - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    That screen will be a huge factor, personally. The Samsung Chromebook was extremely lackluster. I have not seen the older Acer that this is replacing, though.

    That's not to say if it's not IPS, it's not worth it. But if it's at least better than the old Samsung, it could be an excellent deal. If it's not, I'd personally opt for the HP Chromebook 11 because this would actually become my everyday machine likely.
    Reply
  • schizoide - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    Haswell celeron should *smoke* the A15 in terms of performance, yes. Thing is, the A15 is fine for browsing, and that's all a chromebook can actually do out of the box, and the better screen is significant. Reply
  • Qwertilot - Friday, October 11, 2013 - link

    The extra ram might make more of a difference than anything processor related. About the only reason I've maybe seen my Samsung one looking even vaguely slow is when it is obviously swapping tabs in/out of storage rather than all being in memory.

    Not a major thing though, and I'd defintely take a nice screen ahead of it. Presume Samsung are likely readying a refresh of some description.
    Reply
  • shirleymarquez - Saturday, November 16, 2013 - link

    The other question is whether Acer has delivered an adequate keyboard and touchpad this time around. Those were a significant problem with the original Acer C7 Chromebooks. Reply
  • casteve - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    Why is it that none of the Chromebooks have an Ethernet port? One of these $250-class notebooks would be great as a TV accessory (browser = access to Hulu and other free streams). I'd much rather plug into a NIC and be done. Reply
  • djw39 - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    Chromebox exists for that Reply
  • smike - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    there are many cheap usb ethernet adapters out there you can get. Reply
  • schizoide - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - link

    Yes, if I end up putting linux on this bad boy I'll also grab a USB ethernet and a USB 3.0 flash drive (16GB is really tight for linux and a full XBMC install, which can grow past 5GB easily.) Reply
  • sligett - Friday, October 11, 2013 - link

    The previous Acers (c710) had ethernet and VGA ports. Reply

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