Chromebooks have come a long way since their debut just over three years ago. In their first year, Google's laptops sold to the tune of tens of thousands. This year, some firms estimate sales in the tens of millions.
But even with such meteoric growth, at least one of the search giant's partners isn't sitting on its laurels. The latest leap forward in the category comes from a newcomer to the space that would be surprising if not for its rapid branching out from its bread and butter: Nvidia.
This is the Acer Chromebook 13, powered by none other than Nvidia's supercharged system-on-a-chip, the ARM Cortex A15-based Tegra K1. And you might recognize the Tegra name. The chip is found in a few mobile devices, like the company's own Nvidia Shield Tablet – and even a few cars' heads-up displays, namely the Tesla's Model S.
Through a partnership with Acer, the graphics gurus are branching out into general computing with the leader in this burgeoning laptop scene. But this isn't simply Acer slapping a new chip into its existing Chromebooks. While keeping to the company's wallet-conscious sensibilities, Acer is setting an all new stage for Nvidia's break into Chromebooks.
Available in an all-white, smooth plastic clamshell, the 13.3-inch notebook comes sporting a dual-hinge design and chiclet-style keyboard with matte, black keys. Above that rests the 13.3-inch screen – which comes in 1,366 x 768 or 1,920 x 1,080 varieties – wrapped by a reasonably-sized white plastic bezel with a 720p HD webcam and microphone front and center.
One of the marquee points about the Chromebook 13's design is that it's completely fanless, thanks to the Tegra K1's extremely low power draw – or thermal design power (TDP) – of 2 watts. The result is one of the thinnest and lightest 13-inch laptops around, at 0.71 inches and 3.31 pounds.
That super slim profile allowed for Acer to change up where it placed some of the Chromebook 13's ports. Namely, the HDMI-out and one of its USB 3.0 ports have been moved to the rear of the base, just underneath the hinge. The other USB 3.0 port sits on the left side of the base, next to an SD card reader, while the power and headphone jacks are found on the opposite.
Overall, and thanks in part to the K1 chip, Acer has crafted a refreshing, clean and focused computing device. Dare I say that it even conjures fond memories of the all-white unibody MacBooks of the early aughts – only even thinner and lighter.