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Acer unveils low-cost Windows 10 Cloudbooks as rival to Chromebooks

The new laptops are aimed at consumers who need a budget-friendly, cloud-enabled laptop but would rather use Windows 10 than Google's Chrome OS.

Running Windows 10, Acer's new 11-inch Cloudbook may give Chromebooks some competition. Acer

Looking for an inexpensive laptop that runs Windows 10? Acer has a couple of new devices up its sleeve.

Announced Tuesday, Acer's Aspire One Cloudbook 11 and Aspire One Cloudbook 14 are cloud-oriented laptops geared toward people who don't mind limited storage and midrange hardware specs if that means they'll pay less money. Acer is calling them "cloudbooks" because they tap into the cloud: You get a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365, access to Microsoft's OneDrive to store and sync your files online, and use of Acer's own cloud-enabled apps.

Acer's new lapbooks are designed to rival Google Chromebooks, which are also set up as cloud-based laptops with limited onboard storage and are geared toward people comfortable using online services for work, education and other tasks. Chromebooks run Google's Chrome OS, while Acer's new Cloudbooks run Windows 10, which may feel more familiar to people accustomed to previous versions of Windows.

Acer itself sells Chromebooks, as do Asus, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Toshiba. So far, Chromebooks have been popular in the education market but have been slow to catch on in the business world, according to a May report from research firm Gartner. Many potential buyers remain unaware of what a Chromebook is and can do, according to Gartner. The challenge for Google is to increase understanding of a Chromebook, most notably outside the US, a challenge that Acer may also face with its new Cloudbooks. The Cloudbooks are geared toward students and general home users, an Acer spokeswoman said.

Sporting an 11.6-inch screen, the Aspire One Cloudbook 11 starts at $169 and weighs in at 2.5 pounds. With its 14 inch-screen, the Aspire One Cloudbook 14 starts at $199 and weighs 3.5 pounds. Otherwise, the two are fairly similar.

Both come with Windows 10 Home edition, along with Office 365 Personal and up to 1 terabyte of OneDrive space. Also part of the package are Acer's cloud-focused abApps -- abPhoto, abMusic, abDocs and abFiles -- all of which let you sync your files and documents with your smartphones or tablets via the cloud.

The basic hardware specs aren't high end but are certainly adequate given the low prices for both laptops. The Cloudbooks are outfitted with a 1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3050 dual-core processor with Turbo Boost Technology up to 2.16GHz, 2GB of memory and a 16:9 LED-backlit display with a resolution of 1,366x768 pixels.

You can increase the onboard storage via eMMC flash memory cards. The Aspire One Cloudbook 11 is available with 16GB/32GB eMMC configurations, while the Cloudbook 14 is available in 32GB/64GB eMMC configurations. Battery life is rated at up to seven hours for the Cloudbook 11 and up to six hours for the Cloudbook 14.

Both machines also come with dual digital microphones with enhanced digital signal processing (DSP) so online phone calls and chats with Microsoft's Cortana voice assistant are clear. Both feature the latest wireless standard, 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Further, the laptops pack in full-sized ports for HDMI, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and SD cards. A full-sized chiclet keyboard and large touchpad are designed to ease the experience of typing and tapping your way around Windows 10. Both come with a 640x480-pixel webcam.

The Aspire One Cloudbook 11 will be available in North America in August with prices starting at $169. The Aspire One Cloudbook 14 will launch in North America in September or October, depending on the model, starting at $199. The Cloudbooks will also launch in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with the Cloudbook 11 available in September starting at 269 euros and the Cloudbook 14 in October with starting at 299 euros.