CES 2014: Hands-on preview with the Acer Chromebook C720P

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Acer has been a prominent maker of Chromebooks for some time now, and at CES, we got our first look at the next evolution in the company’s range: The Chromeboook C720P. This laptop boasts all of the typical Chromebook features, like a just-good-enough processor, minimal local memory, and a portable yet inexpensive build – and it adds an 11.6in touchscreen with a resolution of 1366 x 768.

The new touch-enabled Chromebook also changes up Acer’s colour scheme from the silver and black plastic used on past models to a lighter plastic that Acer calls Moonstone White. Measuring just 20mm thick and weighing just under 1.4kg, the new Chromebook is slim and portable, even with the addition of the touchscreen. With touch capabilities, the new Chromebook also gains gesture controls such as tap, swipe, and pinch to zoom.

Inside, the Chromebook C720P is outfitted with an Intel Celeron 2955U processor with 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of flash storage, doubled up from the 16GB commonly seen in competing models.

Reliant upon the Internet for most functionality, the Chromebook is equipped with 802.11n Wi-Fi. For connecting external storage, you get both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, and HDMI for output to monitors and HDTVs.

Acer estimates that the new Chromebook will last up to 7.5 hours on a single battery charge, but we'll have to wait and see how it does in our testing.

Although it's only equipped with 32GB of local storage, the Chromebook C720P also comes with 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage for free, lasting 24 months from purchase. Acer is selling the new Chromebook for £250 ($300 in the US).

Though it's our first look at the new Chromebook, it appears that Acer has carried over the best aspects of previous models including sturdy build quality, straightforward design, and affordable pricing, plus the new touchscreen and colour scheme. It's a nice update, and I look forward to reviewing the C720P.

For more Chromebook action, check out our preview of Toshiba's Chromebook from earlier today.