Today, Google announced three new Chromebooks and a Chromebox, all based on Intel’s new low-power fourth-gen Core processors, dubbed Haswell.
Compared with previous-generation Ivy Bridge Chromebooks (such as the touchscreen-equipped Pixel), the new range offers up to 50 percent better battery life as well as 15 percent better performance. Google says the Haswell-based Chromebooks will last between 9 and 10 hours no matter whether you’re watching videos or something less demanding.
The new models include the HP 14, a new design from Acer, plus the first Chromebook from Toshiba and the first Chromebox from Asus.
We got our hands on the HP Chromebook 14, which as the name suggests, has a 14 inch screen. It’s available in a range of eye-catching colours including white, turquoise and orange, but the more traditional silver/grey is also there for those who don’t want to stand out quite so much.
It isn’t quite as light as we’d hoped at 1.85kg, but build quality felt top-notch for a plastic chassis and the screen wasn’t bad either. It didn't have the Pixel's whopping 2560x1600 resolution - HP didn't say how many pixels the 14in screen packed, however.
You get 16GB of internal storage – a pretty stingy amount – but that’s bolstered by 100GB of Google cloud storage for two years.
Our short demo didn’t allow us to test performance or battery life (which HP claims to be 9.5 hours), but rest assured we’ll bring you a full review of the HP 14 as soon as we can.
Acer Chromebook C720: specs, price and availability
Another of the new models, Acer's C720, has an 11.6in screen, weighs 1.25kg and boots in under 8 seconds. Acer claims 8.5 hours of battery life, and there’s the same offer of 100GB of online storage for two years to bolster the 16GB of local storage. It's powered by a Celeron 2955U processor and will have up to 4GB of RAM.
It has a single USB 3 port, an SD card reader that will take up to 32GB cards (no SDXC support, unfortunately), and an HDMI output.
The Chromebook C720 will cost just £199 in the UK and will go on sale in early November. Oddly, there was no mention of any future Chromebooks using the new Bay Trail CPUs, but we're sure they will emerge soon enough.
See also: Samsung Chromebook (2012) review
One of the main criticisms levelled at Chromebooks in the past is that they’re effectively a paperweight without an internet connection. In defence of this, Google’s Caesar Sengupta said, “The world is changing and people are changing. More and more of what we do is online. How would you feel if I took away your internet connection? You wouldn’t like it much.”
He has a point, but it’s also worth noting that a new generation of Chrome apps are starting to emerge. Called Chrome apps for the desktop or Chrome Packaged Apps, they run offline by default. Examples include Google Keep, Pocket and Any.DO. They should go some way to appeasing people’s hesitation when buying a Chromebook.