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Acer C7 Chromebooks Expand Chrome OS Market

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the ssd-would-have-been-nice-though dept.

Google 67

Nerval's Lobster writes "Google is following up last month's Samsung Chromebooks with a new, lower-priced one developed by Acer. Retailing for $199, the 11.6-inch Acer C7 Chromebook features an Intel Celeron 847 processor, 2GB of DDR3 memory, a 320GB hard drive, three USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI port for various cords and auxiliary devices. It's designed for portability, weighing 3.05 pounds and measuring an inch thick. Boot time is reportedly less than 18 seconds. If the new Chromebook has a weakness, it's the advertised 3.5 hours of battery life. That's less than the MacBook Air (which features anywhere from 5-7 hours' battery life, depending on specs) and many of the Windows-backed Ultrabooks, some of which claim up to 11 hours of battery life depending on usage. It's also far less than the posted battery life for tablets such as Apple's iPad and Google's Nexus 7, which are widely viewed as the most prominent competition to laptops in the extra-portable category."

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67 comments

Vanila linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41967545)

If I could get vanila linux on this, it's a fair price.

Re:Vanila linux (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#41967655)

If I could get vanila linux on this, it's a fair price.

You can kick it into dev mode [chromium.org] fairly easily, and it ships with fairly orthodox linux already on it('ChromeOS' has a deeply impoverished userland; but its kernel and such are much closer to normal desktop linux than Android is), so hardware compatibility will probably be OK-ish.

What I don't know, and haven't seen anybody mention one way or the other, is if you can(once you've entered dev mode) modify the UEFI to get rid of the scare-screen on boot.

Re:Vanila linux (3, Informative)

robmv (855035) | about a year and a half ago | (#41967771)

Chromebooks come with coreboot [coreboot.org] (formerly known as LinuxBIOS), it is not a traditional BIOS, nor UEFI. UEFI, at least on the machines I have tried it, is slow to boot !!!!!!. but your question still is valid. I don't know if the developer mode switch allows firmware modifications. I hope so

Re:Vanila linux (1)

efornara (1165681) | about a year and a half ago | (#41968475)

If I could get vanila linux on this, it's a fair price.

You can kick it into dev mode [chromium.org] fairly easily, and it ships with fairly orthodox linux already on it('ChromeOS' has a deeply impoverished userland; but its kernel and such are much closer to normal desktop linux than Android is), so hardware compatibility will probably be OK-ish.

What I don't know, and haven't seen anybody mention one way or the other, is if you can(once you've entered dev mode) modify the UEFI to get rid of the scare-screen on boot.

I don't know this one, and I would like to know too, but on the ARM one, I remember reading that you could flash the firmware, but you had to open the computer and void the warranty. It could be the same for this one.

I have a big question mark about X11 drivers (see my post below http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3248917&cid=41968037 [slashdot.org] ).

Re:Vanila linux (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#41969259)

Specs for the CPU itself seem oddly hard to come by. However, it looks like there are some barebones/appliance systems shipping based on it:

This [fit-pc.com] reports the 847E has having Intel HD2000. Performance should be nice and dreadful; but it should at least work fairly smoothly.

This one [advantech.com] isn't as informative on the spec sheet; but the VGA driver download, when I tested it, refers only to support for processors with some Intel HD graphics, not any of the atom models with powerVR crap.

I'll wait for somebody else to bite; but my money would be on a low-clocked; but reasonably well supported, Intel GPU.

Re:Vanila linux (1)

efornara (1165681) | about a year and a half ago | (#41971057)

Thanks, I've checked the links and they both seems to refer to 847E (even the second one, scrolling down, in the order description says "Celeron 847E,4G RAM w/4xLAN,4xCOM,2xMini-PCIe")

In the comparison on the Intel website, it looks one of the main differences is indeed the presence of the "Processor Graphics" on the 847E:

http://ark.intel.com/compare/55764,56056 [intel.com]

From this link:

http://www.notebookcheck.net/typo3temp/pics/beaa4362c7.gif [notebookcheck.net]

The "Processor Graphics" looks like a big chunk of sylicon.

I've also found a link to a GPU benchmark that gives the 847 a 85 score, putting it in GMA territory:

http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/video_lookup.php?gpu=Intel+HD+Celeron+847&id=785 [videocardbenchmark.net]

Yes, I'll wait for some field reports. Not an impulse buy for sure.

Would it boot linux from usb? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41970519)

Then no problem.

Re:Vanilla linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41970897)

I'll be interested when the Hackintosh community gets Mac OS X running on this. And they will.

Re:Vanila linux (1)

integerforever (2774095) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984545)

I heard about coreboot being something you should look at when trying to get "truly free", Stallman-level hardware. Besides the OS, wouldn't all the hardware be free as in freedom?

Re:Vanila linux (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41967703)

It's an x86-64 processor based on Sandy Bridge, so I don't see any reason you couldn't. Might even work with Windows, if someone wanted to.

Re:Vanila linux (1)

dwk123 (529337) | about a year and a half ago | (#41968265)

It's the same cpu (or at least the same family) used in the new Acer netbooks. I have one of these w/ 4GB ram and a 500GB drive, and it runs Win7 home x64 just fine for your basic putzing around type usage. Loaded up Eclipse to try out some Android development and that may be stretching things a bit, but it's not horrible. The full netbooks are ~350 or so rather than 200, but IMHO it does quite well as a poor-mans-ultrabook.

Re:Vanila linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41970575)

Will your Acer netbook boot linux from usb? Is it supported in the BIOS or whatever it is?

320GB hard drive (3, Interesting)

ssam (2723487) | about a year and a half ago | (#41967549)

I have always thought of chromebooks being pretty much dependant on a web connection to do anything useful, but the C7 has a pretty serious amount of local storage. does that mean it could be used to do most things offline? document editing? playing audio and video? photo editing?

Re:320GB hard drive (3, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | about a year and a half ago | (#41967623)

I have always thought of chromebooks being pretty much dependant on a web connection to do anything useful, but the C7 has a pretty serious amount of local storage. does that mean it could be used to do most things offline? document editing? playing audio and video? photo editing?

Maybe that was just the smallest HDD available? I think a big part of the lower price is the use of a spinning disk instead of an SSD.

Re:320GB hard drive (1)

ssam (2723487) | about a year and a half ago | (#41967661)

is there really much difference in price between a 320GB hdd and a 32GB ssd (assuming its only used for caching) for a bit OEM?

Re:320GB hard drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41967643)

Or playing Oregon Trail...

Re:320GB hard drive (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#41967697)

A subset of the full features are supported offline [google.com]. I don't know if the 320GB is actually anywhere near filled in common usage scenarios, or whether that's just the sweet spot for spinny disks these days; but going offline doesn't brick the thing.

Re:320GB hard drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41967705)

I figure 320GB is a result of cutting costs and not opting for solid state. Google still want you to do everything online.

Re:320GB hard drive (2)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#41967749)

My understanding is that the Google Drive stuff all works offline on the Chromebooks now.

Re:320GB hard drive (3, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#41968921)

I have always thought of chromebooks being pretty much dependant on a web connection to do anything useful, but the C7 has a pretty serious amount of local storage. does that mean it could be used to do most things offline?

ChromeOS supports a variety of APIs which allow web apps to be stored locally and to store data locally, so, yes, any Chromebook can do "most things offline" (provided that you mean things that make sense offline) -- provided that there are web apps that make use of the appropriate offline APIs for the functions you want to do. As with traditional general purpose OS's, the limits to what it can do are largely about what apps are available, not the OS itself.

document editing? playing audio and video? photo editing?

Google Docs supports offline document editing. I'm think there are applications that support offline photo editing in Chrome (and, therefore, ChromeOS). I haven't heard of any that support offline audio/video playback, though there all that is really required to do that is use offline storage for audio/video files, since the "playback" is just a basic browser feature that doesn't require anything special from the app.

Undersupported sync paradigm (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41969233)

so, yes, any Chromebook can do "most things offline" (provided that you mean things that make sense offline)

The trouble happens when a web developer's idea of what things "make sense offline" isn't broad enough. For example, e-mail and discussion forums were offline (SMTP/POP3 and NNTP respectively) before the web, yet webmail, web boards, and social networking sites have tended to under-support the paradigm of synchronizing new posts when one has a connection. I guess not enough web developers think it'd bring in enough additional ad revenue to optimize their sites for the use case of using a device on the public transit commute.

Hmm (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about a year and a half ago | (#41967653)

Thinking I might buy one of these and wait for the inevitable Linux install. My eeepc is starting to show its age and no one is making a viable replacement since WinXP was shoved down everyone's throats.

Re:Hmm (1)

mtrip (2684377) | about a year and a half ago | (#41968267)

I recently downloaded the latest Chrome OS, which they're now calling Cr OS, and it's a remix of OpenSuse that opens up to a custom home page in Chrome by default. I'd say it already is "the inevitable Linux install".

Better looking than Unity or Gnome Shell (1)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about a year and a half ago | (#41968785)

Chrome OS is a crippled excuse for a desktop environment. But if the GUI can somehow be divorced from Google's obsession with the cloud, it would make the more popular Linux desktop GUIs appear like overdesigned junk art. The Aura window manager is simply beautiful or beautifully simple.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983799)

Pretty much every point in your sentence is wrong:
  - You cannot download ChromeOS as that is only shipped on official Chromebook devices
  - You can download the source to ChromiumOS, but you have to build it yourself (ignoring the builds that some people build & release on their own websites like hexxeh.net)
  - "CrOS" is a shortcut used in conversation/logs, it is not the official or even unofficial name used anywhere
  - It is not a remix of OpenSuse, nor has it ever had anything to do with OpenSUSE or SUSE or any RPM based distro (it's actually based on Gentoo and has been for a long time)
  - No build of ChromeOS or ChromiumOS opens to "a custom home page by default"

Comparing like for like? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41967721)

If the new Chromebook has a weakness, it's the advertised 3.5 hours of battery life. That's less than the MacBook Air (which features anywhere from 5-7 hours' battery life, depending on specs) and many of the Windows-backed Ultrabooks, some of which claim up to 11 hours of battery life depending on usage.

You are comparing a $200 machine to one that starts at $1000. It's obviously not going to have the same spec. I'd rather have the $800 and slightly less battery life.

The processor does seem weak, but it is a $200 machine that's only going to be used for light tasks.

If these are the only real-world "weaknesses", it seems like great value, especially if you can put Linux on it.

Re:Comparing like for like? (3, Informative)

bgarcia (33222) | about a year and a half ago | (#41971421)

Besides, if you want battery life, you can get the Samsung Chromebook with a faster SSD and 6.5 hours of battery life for only $250.

Samsung Chromebook [google.com]

Acer? Beware (1)

John Bokma (834313) | about a year and a half ago | (#41973807)

The processor does seem weak, but it is a $200 machine that's only going to be used for light tasks.

Yeah, and be happy if it still runs after a year. My experience with Acer is that they are a very bad brand. Maybe because the last one I bought was a "made for Mexico" model were consumer protection is weak (so say the least). Each time I see those Acers at the local supermarket -- Chedraui, well known for the utter crap they sell -- for about 3000 pesos I wonder how much of those are still running a year from now. Wouldn't surprise me if it was less than 50%.

Re:Comparing like for like? (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | about a year and a half ago | (#41974919)

My £200 Asus Eee PC, running vanilla Ubuntu (resource-hogging Unity and all) has a 5.5 hour battery life. For an "everything happens in the cloud" device, I'd expect at least similar.

Re:Comparing like for like? (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | about a year and a half ago | (#41978021)

The big drawback is that it's limited to Chrome OS (for the moment, at least). Unless someone develops an easy way to install Linux/Windows/OSx86 on it, I wouldn't be interested in it even if it were only $100. Then again, I'm not the target market. I could actually see my mom finding a use for one.

Interesting... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#41967765)

According to popular report, ARM is zOMG cheaper! than Intel. However, this Acer unit is actually the cheap seats among the Chromebooks. The ARM-based Samsung is $50 more. With a mere 16GB of flash, even if it's the good stuff, not some off-brand SD card, it can't be the SSD that makes up the difference. Displays are the same size and resolution. Are Li-ion cells actually that pricey even in quantity, or did Acer really brutalize the build quality to get to this price?

Re:Interesting... (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | about a year and a half ago | (#41974959)

I've never heard anyone claim ARM is cheaper than Intel, necessarily. Lower power consumption, yes. Lower clock speed. yes. Lower per-unit price? A 32nm chip is a 32nm chip- I'd have thought the fab costs would be much the same, regardless of the architecture.

Battery (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#41967833)

Probably it don't mean to be a netbook or a tablet, but, still... looks short for a portable device mainly meant to be connected to internet anywhere you are.

$199 is pretty hard to beat (3, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | about a year and a half ago | (#41967847)

I was already considering buying my wife the Samsung ChromeBook for Christmas; I'll need to see if I can play with one of these Acers to decide if the extra $50 is worth it.

She already has a laptop; this would be a second machine. Her MacBook is still very functional but is suffering some cosmetic damage and the battery life has declined a lot. I could buy her a new battery for less than the price of a ChromeBook... but there's also some value in having a "downstairs computer". The ChromeBook would probably live in the living room and kitchen, while the MacBook would stay in her bedroom.

I've also considered getting her a new computer... but I don't have a grand in the budget for a new Mac, and while I could probably deal with that I also have a moral objection to funding Apple's lawsuits -- and so does my wife, actually. I could buy her a regular laptop, but what OS would it run? I don't want to manage or mess with Windows, and she hasn't used Windows in many years so it'd be a learning curve for her... not so much the OS but the software she uses. I'd be happy to put Ubuntu on it, but the learning curve issue would be there, plus Netflix wouldn't work.

So, a ChromeBook is looking like a really excellent low-cost option. It would allow her to semi-retire the MacBook, keeping it around for the small amount of stuff she needs a "real" computer for, and not requiring her to learn new apps for photo editing, making greeting cards, videos, etc., but using the ChromeBook for e-mail, calendaring, docs, Facebook, TV, video chats, etc., which make up the bulk of her computing. Then I could spend the rest of her Christmas budget on other stuff.

Re:$199 is pretty hard to beat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41968039)

Her MacBook is still very functional but is suffering some cosmetic damage and the battery life has declined a lot.

Has it declined to 3.5 hours? That's the life of this machine. I think a new battery might be a better idea, you'd still have all the functionality of the Mac and buy an Android tablet that has more functionality than this chromebook, longer battery life and apps to choose from.

This chromebook really isn't that good a deal

Re:$199 is pretty hard to beat (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year and a half ago | (#41974495)

Yeah, her battery only lasts about an hour, and that's far from the only problem with the laptop. With light use it'll last a few more years -- by which time she probably won't need a full laptop any more. She already has an Android tablet, and doesn't much care for it. Even with a Bluetooth keyboard for it, it's still just not enough like a real computer. She's used my ChromeBook and found it very usable, so I don't worry about her not liking it.

Re:$199 is pretty hard to beat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41968067)

Why don't you give your wife an orgasm for Christmas?

Get the $250 Samsung (2)

earls (1367951) | about a year and a half ago | (#41968563)

The Acer suffers from a 320 GB HDD, 3.5 Hours Battery Life, and 18 second boot times.

The only current downside to the Samsung is that Netflix doesn't work yet.

Re:$199 is pretty hard to beat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41968597)

I love my chromebook. The fast boot and hardened OS make it very useful as a second computer. Consider the $250 one that Best Buy just started selling. It is better and slicker and only slightly more expensive.

Re:$199 is pretty hard to beat (1)

evilviper (135110) | about a year and a half ago | (#41970837)

You really think switching to "ChromeBook" there won't be any learning-curve, and the applications you know and love will ALL work?

Honestly, as vague as your requirements are, I don't see why one of (eg.) Walmart's several $80 7" Android 4.0 ICS (capacitive screen) tablets won't work for you just as well:

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Double-Power-T-711-with-WiFi-7-Capacitive-Touchscreen-Tablet-PC-Featuring-Android-4.0-Ice-Cream-Sandwich-Operating-System/21281964 [walmart.com]

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Maylong-Mobility-M-270-with-WiFi-7-Touchscreen-Tablet-PC-Featuring-Android-4.0-Ice-Cream-Sandwich-Operating-System/21118631 [walmart.com]

Re:$199 is pretty hard to beat (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year and a half ago | (#41974549)

You really think switching to "ChromeBook" there won't be any learning-curve, and the applications you know and love will ALL work?

The only app on the ChromeBook is... Chrome. And, no, there won't be any learning curve since she uses it all the time already.

Honestly, as vague as your requirements are, I don't see why one of (eg.) Walmart's several $80 7" Android 4.0 ICS (capacitive screen) tablets won't work for you just as well

She has a Galaxy Tab 10.1, and doesn't see it as a good platform for web browsing. I agree. I like my Nexus 7, but not for e-mail, etc. It's a great entertainment device, book reader, etc.

Re:$199 is pretty hard to beat (1)

evilviper (135110) | about a year and a half ago | (#41974691)

She has a Galaxy Tab 10.1, and doesn't see it as a good platform for web browsing. I agree. I like my Nexus 7, but not for e-mail, etc. It's a great entertainment device, book reader, etc.

You two need to get yourselves bluetooth keyboards and tablet stands.

You *do* realize you can get Chrome for Android now, right?

Re:$199 is pretty hard to beat (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year and a half ago | (#41977353)

We have bluetooth keyboards and tablet stands -- and Chrome on both tablets.

Re:$199 is pretty hard to beat (1)

eldridgea (1249582) | about a year and a half ago | (#41973643)

Just FYI regarding the Samsung - Netflix doesn't work (yet). It works on the x86 laptops decently but not on Samsung's ARM one. Google says they are working with Netflix to resolve this, so it's hopefully coming in an update (similar to the original Chromebooks) but just something to think about regarding the Samsung vs. Acer.

Re:$199 is pretty hard to beat (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year and a half ago | (#41974557)

That's important to know. Thanks. I suspect it'll work before too long, but still...

Google, why? (1)

DrXym (126579) | about a year and a half ago | (#41967999)

Chrome needs to be dumped on its ass and the best bits folded into Android. These two operating systems have so much overlap that it makes no sense to keep them both going.

Re:Google, why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41968295)

The Chrome browser is already available on Android, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.android.chrome
Perhaps they are attempting to bring the two together and they'll meet in the middle somewhere. Note however that large keyboard operated non-touchscreen devices, and small no-keyboard touchscreen devices are two different beasts, and getting something to work well on both is no easy task. At least not without compromises.

Re:Google, why? (1)

DrXym (126579) | about a year and a half ago | (#41968607)

Devices like the Asus Transformer and some others have keyboards and can use plug in mice. Google TV must also see a lot of use from people with bluetooth keyboards and trackpads. Admittedly support for keyboards and mice is quite poor in Android but it could be improved upon and perhaps it would be if Google stopped flogging a dead horse called ChromeOS and concentrated on their successful OS.

Re:Google, why? (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about a year and a half ago | (#41971441)

Admittedly support for keyboards and mice is quite poor in Android

data please? i've had nothing but success with everything i've tried, both bluetooth and USB. and unlike iOS, you get a real honest to goodness mouse cursor on android.

Re:Google, why? (1)

DrXym (126579) | about a year and a half ago | (#41971863)

The data is my own experience with an Asus Transformer TF301. There are numerous issues with the experience compared to a desktop OS - horrifically inconsistent handling of keyboard accelerators and features like ctrl+shift+cursor, and a mouse which has no contextual feedback (e.g. showing as a caret over an edit field), and selection behaviour which is designed for fingers. It's replete with issues that deserve a full release to polish the experience and produce guidelines for developers to follow.

Chrome is not for pre-4.x Android devices (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41969129)

The Chrome browser is already available on Android [through Play Store]

The last time I checked, Chrome worked only on 4.x devices, not 2.x phones, 2.x tablets (such as Kindle Fire and older Archos products), or Honeycomb tablets.

Note however that large keyboard operated non-touchscreen devices, and small no-keyboard touchscreen devices are two different beasts, and getting something to work well on both is no easy task. At least not without compromises.

The same could be said of Microsoft's recent attempt to unify desktop and tablet operating systems.

Re:Google, why? (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#41969069)

Chrome needs to be dumped on its ass and the best bits folded into Android. These two operating systems have so much overlap that it makes no sense to keep them both going.

Android is the current, and well-establish Google operating system for mobile phones and tablets, which is the #1 OS in that area. ChromeOS is the far less mature and established OS that represents Google's long-term OS goal, but whose current incarnations are more focussed on traditional keyboard-and-pointing-device type of environments than touch devices. It doesn't make sense to disrupt Android by forcing it to take on ChromeOS's role as well as its own, and it doesn't make sense to hold ChromeOS back by forcing it to take on Android's role. Chrome browser on Android is already the tool for bringing the parts of ChromeOS that work well with Android to Android (just as Chrome browser on Windows, MacOS, and Linux serves as the vehicle for those platforms.) Google's long-term goal -- that they've stated many times -- is to converge Android and ChromeOS. But they have pretty good reasons not to be in a hurry to do that.

No Intel HD Graphics in Celeron 847? (1)

efornara (1165681) | about a year and a half ago | (#41968037)

I'm thinking of buying one myself and installing a proper debian on it, but this is concerning:

http://ark.intel.com/compare/55764,56056 [intel.com]

Does it mean that it has a PowerVR based GMA like the latest Atoms? That would be a deal breaker for me.

Re:No Intel HD Graphics in Celeron 847? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983937)

The ChromeOS builds are using the open source xf86-video-intel driver

Recursive Link (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41968085)

When your article points to yourself and contains about as much info as the summary whats the point. What would have really been nice is if the article actually compared battery weight to life.

Re:Recursive Link (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about a year and a half ago | (#41969937)

+1. Where is the link to the real story? Or to a Google info page for this thing? Where can I buy one?

Re:Recursive Link (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41984001)

http://google.com/chromebook

Don't like 3.5 hours? Buy TWO to get 7 hours (3, Insightful)

daboochmeister (914039) | about a year and a half ago | (#41969507)

And still save a LOT compared to the Macbook Air (like, $600). Heck, buy FIVE.

that's my tongue-in-cheek way of pointing out that they have different target audiences ... I highly highly doubt there are many people out there just struggling with the "Oh, I WANT to buy an Acer Chromebook, but that battery means I guess I have to buy a Macbook Air instead" thought process.
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