Compared to most laptops, Chromebooks are a one-trick pony: They're good for web-based productivity and not much else. Acer has refined this simple formula with Chromebook 13, which offers a 1080p screen, an outstanding keyboard and a slim and light design. It's also the first Chromebook to feature Nvidia's energy-efficient Tegra K1 quad-core processor, which provides much longer battery life than competing notebooks.
Moreover, at $249 and £219 (about AU$314) the Chromebook 13 is the same price as the Samsung Chromebook 2, which uses a 1,366 x 768 display and a dual-core Intel Celeron N2840 processor. Should this laptop's full HD screen and longer battery life put it at the top of your list?
The Acer Chromebook 13 sports a slim, matte white plastic chassis that's refreshingly minimalist. Small Acer and Google Chrome logos on the left side of the lid serve as the sole flourishes on the otherwise unadorned exterior, and the tapered bottom gives the laptop a sleek look. Despite its thin profile, the notebook feels surprisingly sturdy in my hand.
On the other side of the lid, the laptop features a 13.3-inch display with a matte, glare-resistant finish. The black island-style keyboard stands in sharp relief against the bone-white deck, and the palm rest offers plenty of room for the wrists. A blue LED at the top right corner glows when the laptop is on.
At 12.9 x 9 x 0.71 inches (W x D x H) and 3.31 pounds, the Chromebook 13 is a tad heavier than the 2.95-pound, 13.3-inch Toshiba Chromebook 2 and the 2.65-pound Samsung Chromebook 2 11. Regardless, 3.3 pounds doesn't feel like much when you're carrying it around in your bag, and the notebook's tiny power adapter barely adds to the weight. When I tucked the Chromebook 13 into my backpack, I barely noticed it was there.
The notebook's port selection is typical of most Chromebooks. On the left side of the laptop there's a USB 3.0 port and an SD card reader. A headphone/microphone combo jack is on the right. Somewhat annoyingly, an HDMI port and an additional USB 3.0 port are located on the back of the laptop, which can make it difficult to plug in peripherals if you have limited desk space.