acer c740
Brushed iron metal, reinforced hinges

Building on its successes in 2014, Acer is to launch a wave of new Chromebooks in the early part of 2015.

Among them the 11.6-inch Acer C740 Chromebook, a model primarily being targeted at education and powered by an Intel Broadwell-U Celeron processor.

Details on this (and several other incoming devices) was passed us by our “Chrome Bandit” source, and includes broad specifications for the C740, US pricing and a tentative street date.

Acer C740 Broadwell Chromebook

Like earlier models put out by the Taiwanese multinational, the Acer C740 Chromebooks will be made available in consumer and commercial guises, though the differences between both will, we’re told, be more distinct.

The big sell here is that at least one of these devices will come bearing Intel’s fifth-generation Broadwell-based processors, providing users with a huge boost in performance, battery life and graphics performance.

Precisely which processor? Well that we don’t know. Since most of Intel’s Broadwell chips are set to be unveiled in January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the lack of specific make or model shared by Acer is understandable.

If I had to make an educated (ho ho, pun) guess with the pricing and power requirements firmly in view, something like the dual-core Intel Core i3-5010U running at 2.1GHz (and backed with Intel HD 5500 graphics) seems like a smart entry choice. Not too flashy, not too expensive, but hardly meek.

On a more tentative note I’m told that Acer is keen to keep education and consumer propositions distinct (something they’ve failed to do in the past, with consumer models being priced more attractively at the same specs). Because of this they may, at first, only offer a Broadwell-equipped SKU in its commercial offering. A consumer release would use the older, if still hugely performant, Haswell-based Core i3-4005U.

This, I should stress, is subject to change.

Rugged Design

With education being a big, big driving force behind Chromebook sales across the board, and Acer alone making up a large chunk, it’s perhaps not surprising to learn that the C740 has been designed with classrooms in mind.

The unit keeps the same overall look and feel of the CB3 and CB5 Chromebooks, but is encased in a sleek ‘brushed iron metal’ design — i.e., tough — and features reinforced hinges and display.

The Rest

The 11.6″ screen size sports a non-glare display running at a (now regular) 1366 x 768 resolution. Yes, disappointing. But as this device has clearly been made for education, LCD panels are cheaper, more robust and uses less power than full-HD IPS displays.

Also listed in the promotional materials we’ve seen:

  • 16GB and 32GB SSD options
  • 2GB and 4GB RAM options
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi w/Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • USB 3.0, SD card reader and HDMI out 
  • Battery life listed at 8.5 hours.

Acer gives a starting price of $259 for the 2GB RAM/16GB SSD model, and $289 for 4GB RAM and a 16GB SSD.

Release date is currently pencilled in for March 2015.

  • Source: Chrome Bandit
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