Two new Chromebook models, the C910 and the C740, announced Wednesday by Acer are designed for schoolkids who might not always handle electronic devices as carefully as they should. The "enhanced durability" of the new Chromebooks is aimed at an education market that has already widely embraced the devices.
"The two new Acer Chromebooks feature newly enhanced durable designs that can handle even more of the rigors so common to the education environment," said Eric Ackerson, senior product marketing and brand manager with Acer America. "Also, schools can deploy and manage these new platforms cost-effectively, quickly and securely, so the emphasis stays on student success."
Acer and Samsung were the first companies to begin manufacturing Chromebooks after the notebook technology was unveiled by Google in 2011. Running Google's Chrome OS and using cloud-based apps and data, the quick-to-boot and relatively inexpensive devices with long-lasting battery life were rapidly adopted for use in schools.
Most Chromebooks Go to Schools
Chromebook sales last year were expected to reach 5.2 million units, up 79 percent over sales in 2013. As of 2013, nearly 85 percent of Chromebook sales were to the education sector, according to analyst firm Gartner Inc.
Worldwide, Samsung dominated the Chromebook field with a 65 percent market share in 2013, Gartner reported. Acer came in second, with more than 21 percent of all global Chromebook sales. However, an Acer spokesperson we reached out to noted that the company has grown quite a bit in 2014 and had a 40 percent share as of Q3 2014. "We've seen significant growth in elementary, middle and high schools," the spokesperson added.
While the use of Chromebooks has grown largely in the education market, other segments -- especially certain business sectors -- are also expected to begin adopting the devices more widely. However, the Chromebook market remains small compared to sales of PCs and laptops, which saw more than 300 million units sold last year by Gartner's estimates.
Reinforced Hinges and Covers
The new Acer C910 sports a 15.6-inch display, weighs 4.85 pounds and is "ideal for labs and classrooms where it may be shared by multiple students," Acer said. On the other hand, the 11.6-inch Acer C740, which weighs just 2.87 pounds, is designed to easily fit into a student's backpack for travel between school and home.
Both devices feature reinforced hinges and covers that can stand up to 60 kilograms (132 pounds) of force. The corners of the Chromebooks are designed to survive drops of up to 45 centimeters (nearly 18 inches) without damage. Because Acer expects the smaller Chromebook to be used on the go more often, it added extended metal hinges to the device "in case a student mistakenly picks it up by the display or crams it into a backpack."
The new Chromebooks are scheduled to become available in the U.S., the U.K. and other regions starting in February. The Acer C740, with a 16 GB SSD drive and either 2 GB or 4 GB of RAM, will start at $259.99, while the Acer C910 will be priced at $299.99 and up (the latter device will be offered with either a 16 GB or 32 GB SSD drive and 4 GB of RAM). Both will be available with either a 5th Generation Intel Core i3-5005U processor or a next-generation Intel Celeron 3205U processor.