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Chromebooks get larger, faster with Acer's Chromebook 15

Chromebooks get larger, faster with Acer's Chromebook 15

Starting at $249.99, the device is one of the fastest in the category, with an Intel Broadwell processor

Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571 with Broadwell (1)

Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571 with Broadwell (1)

Acer is supersizing chromebooks, offering the world's first Chrome OS laptop with a 15.6-inch screen.

The Chromebook 15 is also the first device in the category with a processor based on Intel's latest Broadwell circuit design. Starting at US$249.99, the laptop will offer eight hours of battery life and be among the fastest chromebooks available.

Most chromebooks today have 11.6- or 13.3-inch screens, and are considered adequate for those who do most of their computing online. The Chromebook 15 will provide more screen space to read documents or watch movies.

An Internet connection is needed to run a majority of chromebook applications, but some can be used offline. Intel's Broadwell-based Celeron processor will crank up the performance of both offline and online applications.

The Chromebook 15 will also deliver better graphics and video, which could be beneficial when watching movies. But the graphics quality won't match that of Acer's Chromebook 13, which has an Nvidia Tegra K1 chip that is capable of processing 4K video.

Chromebooks today are equipped with either ARM or Intel processors, and the fastest models have Intel's Core i3 processors based on the Haswell microarchitecture. Broadwell is the successor to the Haswell microarchitecture. Intel is launching new Broadwell chips at International CES in Las Vegas, starting Jan. 6.

At 2.2 kilograms, Acer's Chromebook 15 could be a lighter and cheaper alternative to Windows desktop replacement laptops. The Chrome OS has built-in security features and will automatically update itself on a regular basis.

The Chromebook 15 has an unconventional design, with speaker bars placed next to the keyboard. The laptop supports up to 4GB of DRAM and 32GB of solid-state drive storage, much like the smaller-screen chromebooks. Other features include a webcam, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and SD card reader. The laptop also has USB 3.0, USB 2.0 and HDMI ports.

Acer said the Chromebook will be available in different regions. It will ship in the U.S. next month. The company will show the new Chromebook at CES.

The PC maker is also introducing new models of its Chromebook 13 that offer touchscreens, though it didn't provide price, availability or shipping information.

Beyond chromebooks, Acer also announced upgrades to its Aspire R 13 hybrid and Aspire S7 laptop ahead of CES. The PCs are being refreshed with Intel's latest fifth-generation Core i processors based on the Broadwell architecture. As a result, the laptops will be faster, thinner and offer longer battery life. The laptops are also being equipped with higher resolution screens. Exact specifications, availability and pricing details for the laptops were not immediately available.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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