This is no mini machine. It is full sized, although lightweight, at only 3 pounds. It includes 11.7-inch display, a full sized keyboard, a 1.3-megapixel camera, and a battery that lasts about 3.5 hours. It also contains a surprisingly high-capacity 320-gigabyte disk drive. That's surprising as Chromebook laptops usually have smaller hard drives.
A bit more than a year ago, Chromebooks cost $350 to $500. I purchased one at that price and I use it frequently. (See http://goo.gl/OrqcX for my report.) About three weeks ago, Samsung announced they would soon be shipping a $249 Chromebook. (See http://goo.gl/8ERUF.) Now Acer has lowered the bar to $200.
A Chromebook does not run Windows or Macintosh operating systems. Instead, Chromebooks run Google's Chrome operating system which is based on the Linux kernel but is so highly modified that even Linux aficionados wouldn't recognize it. The Chrome operating system is cloud-based. That is, all data and most of the programs are stored online, not in the laptop's built-in hard drive. Almost all applications are available free of charge. Want a word processor? Use Google Docs. Want an email program? Use Gmail. Want video? Use YouTube.
If you use your laptop at home, at the office, or most anyplace else that has a wi-fi network available, the Chromebook makes a lot of sense. It is simple to use, excellent for non-technical users, doesn't get viruses, and is very reliable. However, it might not run your favorite genealogy program. Instead, it is limited to online genealogy programs, such as New FamilySearch, WeRelate.org, The Next Generation, PhpGedView, Ancestry.com, Geni.com, WikiTree.com, MyHeritage.com, FamilyTreeExplorer, and a few others.
If you already own a laptop and are familiar with computers, you probably won't care for the new Acer. However, if you are looking for a low-cost laptop computer for your own travels, or if you wish to provide a computer for a non-computer-literate senior citizen or a ten-year-old, the Acer C7 might be an excellent choice.
The new Acer C7 Chromebook will go on sale in Best Buy stores and through Google Play this week.