If there's one thing you can say about Chromebooks -- specialized laptops that use Google's Chrome operating system -- it's that they have definitely expanded beyond their initial sub-notebook origins. The first Chromebooks were underpowered and underfeatured (although still somewhat overpriced), but now you can get a $1,000-plus HD-screen Chromebook Pixel or a sub-$200 entry level box.
Acer is expanding its C7 line of Chromebooks with a slightly higher-end version called the C710-2055. It expands on the $199 original C7 by doubling the RAM from 2GB to 4GB, and keeping the same Intel Celeron CPU and 320GB HDD.
Of the first Acer C7 Chromebook, we said: "The plastic body feels undeniably "budget," without the often more premium touches of many tablets. A somewhat flexible plastic top lid, glossy plastic screen bezel, and thicker-than-you'd-expect sides with ugly vent grilles complete the portrait of a product that defies any desire to show it off...Google's Chrome OS is good for Web browsing, working with Flash and other Web technologies, and all that entails. It feels smooth, syncs well with Google's cloud services, and is excellent with Google Docs and Gmail. If that's your essential set of tools, then a Chromebook may be up your alley. But for anyone who enjoys the power and versatility of standalone apps, Chrome OS is bound to disappoint. "
Aimed initially at the education market, Acer is promoting this new Chromebook as a device that goes beyond the original online-only premise of the Chrome OS, thanks to the growing offline capabilities of Google Docs, Gmail, and other Chrome apps.
Like other Chromebooks we've seen, the new C7 has an 11-inch 1,366x768 screen, USB 2.0 ports (three, in this case), a 1.3MP Webcam, and an HDMI output. It's available now for $279.