I briefly mentioned the Acer Aspire ES1 in an article about the Acer Chromebook 13 last week but I think it’s worth taking a closer look at it now because this could be the next $199 Windows laptop. Given the specifications it also hints at a widening of the free Windows OS offer from Microsoft.
I wrote yesterday about the ARM-powered Acer Chromebook 13. Today I want to talk about the 11.6-inch version of this. The Acer Chromebook 11, or CB3-111, runs on the same Atom/Celeron N2830 as the ASUS C200 but it’s cheaper. 219 Euros for the CB3-111 vs 249 Euro for the ASUS C200. Pricing in the USA is likely to have the same differential.
Once again – 219 Euros. That’s just about the cheapest laptop you can buy with a current processing platform. OK, the Acer ES1-111 is available for the same price and it’s got more storage, Windows 8 and a Gigabit LAN port but it’s close.
In terms of comparison with the ASUS C200, a Chromebook that I really like, there aren’t many differences in the specifications. AC wiFi is there along with USB3.0, HDMI, 16GB of storage and the 1366×768 screen resolution but this one is non-glossy. The only significantly different specification is that battery which is 36Wh – about 75% of the capacity of the 48Wh battery on the ASUS C200. Battery life is likely to be 3/4 of the figures we’ve seen there. Weight is 1.25KG.
There’s the potential for a few surprises here. Upgradable RAM and SSD is something we’ll be looking out for but the screen brightness, WiFi performance and keyboard will have to be good just to keep up with the ASUS C200.
In Munich today, NewGadgets got some hands-on with the Acer Chromebook 11 / CB3-111 and if you look closely at the information stand you’ll see a 4GB option listed along with ‘up to’ 32GB of storage. That matches the offering from ASUS with the C200.
I’m not one to pass on rumours but I have always believed, since I tested the Switch 10, that an 11.6-inch version would be even better. An article at TabTec takes some previously unseen model numbers and predicts that an 11.6-inch Acer Switch, the SW5-111 and SW5-171, will arrive at IFA.
There’s literally no more information other than the new model numbers that were found on an Acer website but if you follow Acer’s model numbers it would make sense that an SW5-111 would be an 11.6-inch with Atom/Celeron and that the 171 would be running a Core CPU (I’d guess at a Haswell Y-series.) They would be a natural replacement for the Acer Aspire P3 range which runs on 2nd-generation Core.
If an 11.6-inch Acer Switch 11 to be launched there would need to be some improvements over the Switch 10 to make it interesting. A Full-HD screen, larger battery (or additional battery in keyboard) would be the first on the list. A good price would be expected too.
I’m at IFA (from 3rd Sept) so will be able to being you some more information then, unless Acer launches the Switch 11 beforehand.
Since the day I started Carrypad (the former name of this site) there’s been a continuous battle between ARM and X86 processing architectures. Remember the Nokia 770 tablet? How about the Raon Digital Vega?  Today that fight is mainly in the Android tablet space but it’s becoming increasingly rowdy in the Chromebook space too. I was very impressed with the ASUS C200 Chromebook recently (on Intel) and there’s a 13.3-inch version of that, the ASUS C300, which will go right up against something using ARM architecture that is launching from Acer soon. The Acer Chromebook 13 running the Nvidia Tegra K1 platform and will offer similar performance, similar weight, similar price and similar battery life. Where’s the differentiator?
The new Tegra-based Acer Chromebook 13 will come with a 1366×768 screen, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. So far that matches the ASUS C300. In terms of weight, 3.3 pounds matches the 3.1 pounds of the ASUS. AC WiFi can be found on both along with a full-size HDMI port, 48Wh battery, webcam and two USB ports. They’re both USB3.0 on the Acer but I doubt many will care much about that.
The ASUS C300 has been on the market for a few weeks now and the price has dropped down to $229 which is very attractive when you compare it to the more expensive Acer Chromebook 13 at $279. That launch price is sure to come down so I’ll ignore that as I continue my comparison.
The Acer Chromebook 13 has the longest-lasting battery life of all Chromebooks – up to 13 hours!
Is the battery life the differentiator? I can show you 13-hours on the ASUS C200 but possibly not on the ASUS C300 so it’s likely the Acer will win here but when you’re talking about all three Chromebooks lasting a full day on a charge does it make much difference?
Is it simply down to CPU brand? Is Tegra going to attract people? “192 Nvidia CUDA Cores” sounds good!
In terms of performance, assuming the SSD speeds and WiFi performance are similar, there won’t be much difference in web browsing speeds but one area where the Acer might have an edge is graphics. Gaming options on Chromebooks are rare so is the GPU really that important? There are two things to consider here. The first is GPGPU acceleration which could push up some HTML5 performance; The other is Android applications.
At Google I/O in June, Google demonstrated Android apps running on a Chromebook. Later, Google revealed that is was “done on a Chromebook Pixel running a standard development channel image and all Android code was running under Native Client.” The technicalities are still unknown but could it be that Google are building the libraries required to allow Android apps to run with mininal porting? Google admits that it’s a technical challenge but it’s clear that Google want to bring Android apps to Chromebooks. ““Our goal is to bring your favorite Android applications in a thoughtful manner to Chromebooks.” The Acer Chromebook 13 might not beat the ASUS C300 in 2014 but it might be the one to buy in 2015 when you take the possibility of Skype and Minecraft into account. It could break Chromebooks out of the simplicity-focused education market and right into a mainstream one. 
Android apps might be the reason that Gartner predicts that Chromebook sales are likely to triple by 2017. That brings the forecast total to 14.4 million units globally. If ART and the porting of applications happens in numbers we could see a platform that competes with low-cost Windows 8 laptops for mainstream customers and exceeds that forecast. Having looked at the ‘gaps’ in ChromeOS closely I think ART Android apps can make a difference. Even if Skype is the only application ported over in 2015 it will make a huge difference. Low cost Windows laptops will evolve too though so competition will remain strong.
My Acer C200 overview video:
This is a unique combination because the Nokia 770 was on Intel ARM and the Raon Digital on AMD X86.
 Corrected with additional research. Google has not officially announced that ART will come to Chromebooks. The incorrect section originally read:
“The first is GPGPU acceleration which could push up some HTML5 performance; The other is ART. ART is the new Android runtime that you’ll find replacing Dalvic in the up-coming Android-L release. Google has said it will build ART into ChromeOS and that really could be a game-changer for the Chromebook. ART means that, for the first time, there will be native, non HTML5, local apps on the platform. It means games can be ported over from Android to Chromebooks. The Acer Chromebook 13 might not beat the ASUS C300 in 2014 but it might be the one to buy in 2015 when you take the possibility of Skype and Minecraft into account. It could break Chromebooks out of the simplicity-focused education market and right into a mainstream one.”
I’m testing the Acer Aspire Switch 10 for Notebookcheck.net right now and it’s going well. I prefer it to the ASUS Transformer Book T100 because of the better keyboard, mouse and screen but there’s one little issue – battery life. The Switch 10 has a 24Wh battery inside which is much less than the 34Wh battery of the ASUS T100 and less than half of what you got on the previous W510. Looking at the keyboard reveals that it’s quite light and has 8 exposed screws so naturally I took a look inside. What I saw was encouraging because there’s space, screw holes and an unused PCB header space.
It’s rare that a new offering in the ultra-mobile PC space races to the top of the charts so quickly but that’s what has happened with the new Acer Aspire Switch 10 over the last two weeks. The previous generation Iconia W510 is about to drop off the bottom of the top 10 so it’s perfect timing for Acer. They’ve got some competition though and there’s little information out there about the finer points of the device like disk performance and screen quality…apart from one that’s just been published by the good people at Tabtec.de.
It’s a brave reseller that breaks what we assume would be an NDA in order to gain the SEO advantage so hats-off to Brack in Switzerland who give us the first real detail about the Acer Aspire Switch SW5. This Baytrail-T based 2-in-1 is clearly on the production line and looks to be the upgrade to the W510 that we had running on Clovertrail last year.
In our fifth 8-inch Windows Tablet review we’re taking a look at the Acer Iconia W4. Acer were the first to bring an 8-inch Windows 8 tablet to the market but the W3 really wasn’t at all an impressive device. The W4, however, looks a whole lot better and performs a whole lot better thanks to the upgrade from Clovertrail to Baytrail. We’ve also got 3G on board which makes it one of the first 8-inch Windows tablets to have the feature. Read-on for the full Acer Iconia W4-821P 3G 32GB review.
It’s going to be one crazy day for me on Wednesday. Two important events will take place that will give us a deeper understanding as to what’s going to happen with Windows tablets this year. Intels IDF event takes place in China and later in the day Microsoft kick-off their BUILD developer event. I’ll be covering them both.