Acer Chromebook 15 meets craving for bigger Chrome OS laptops

Meanwhile, Chromebook 13 gets a touch of, well, touch

Like it or not, but Chromebooks are a big deal. Even more so now that Acer has announced the first-ever 15.6-inch laptop running Chrome OS. Starting at just $249 (about £162, AU$306), the Acer Chromebook 15 introduces not one, but two firsts for the category.

This Chromebook is also the first to feature the 5th generation Intel Core i3 – well, that and Celeron chips built using that architecture. But back to that screen, a 15.6-inch anti-glare panel starting at 1,366 x 768 resolution with a 1080p option available too. (Protip: go for the FHD.)

But what about the battery?

With a screen that's 27% larger than the Acer Chromebook 13 (by the company's own measure), Acer is still promising all-day battery life. That could be possible through the power-sipping Broadwell CPU, but we'll have to be the final judge of that.

Backing up that Core i3 or Celeron chip is either 2GB or 4GB of RAM and your choice of either a 16GB or 32GB solid-state drive. Shiny new Intel chip aside, it's essentially standard fare for this (or most other) Chromebook.

Rounding out the Chromebook 15's connectivity features are dual-band, MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. As for hard connections, this model offers one USB 3 and USB 2 port each, along with HDMI and an SD card reader.

Looks aren't everything, but…

For whatever reason, Chromebook makers are doing whatever they can to make their Chrome OS notebooks look as slick as possible within the confines of their budget price tags. While not quite as drastic as the Samsung Chromebook 2's pleather, the cross hatch, milky white plastic shell on the Chromebook 15 looks mighty nice for 250 clams.

Plus, that extra space allowed Acer to plop upward-facing speakers on this model for (hopefully) far better sound than competing Chromebooks. But what good is a shell that can't protect what's inside? So, Acer reinforced the frame to withstand up to 132 pounds of force and just over 1-foot drops without damage.

Acer managed to keep the Chromebook 15 just under 5 pounds at 4.85 pounds and 15.4 x 10.08 x 0.95 inches (W x D x H). Not too shabby for a 15-inch laptop. Acer doesn't have any word on when exactly the Chromebook 15 will land. But what we do know is that the floor just collapsed on the 15-inch laptop price – and that's probably a good thing.

Touching up the lineup

To up the ante even further, Acer threw in news that its Nvidia Tegra K1-powered Chromebook, the simply-named Acer Chromebook 13, now comes with a touchscreen option. But for $329 (about £214, AU$405), be sure of how badly you want touch control on a Chromebook.

And finally, the company announced a new version – so soon? – of its Acer Aspire V 17 Nitro gaming laptop, now featuring an Intel RealSense 3D camera. This new piece of imaging tech enables three dimensional gesture control and 3D scanning for eventual 3D printing.

Of course, the laptops now come with demo apps to show off what the camera is capable of. Acer is mum on pricing, but this version of the gaming notebook will be available worldwide later this month.

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