I have written a number of times about Chromebooks, inexpensive laptops that run the user-friendly Chrome operating system. (See https://goo.gl/jq3Exa for some of my past articles about Chromebooks.) I own one of these systems and love it. It is a good, low-cost and also low-powered traveling laptop. However, Chromebooks may have now met their biggest competitors: Acer’s Cloudbooks that run Windows 10 and sell for as little as $169.
Known as the Aspire One Cloudbook 11 and 14, the two new systems are designed to used in a similar way to a Chromebook, with a focus on cloud storage. Both the 11 and 14-inch versions of the Aspire One Cloudbooks are powered by Windows 10, with Intel Celeron processors, 2 gigabytes or memory and 1,366 x 768 LED backlit displays. There’s also built-in 802.11ac wi-fi wireless networking, a full-sized HDMI port for connection to a television set, a pair of USB ports and an SecureDigital card slot included.
The systems will ship with a choice of just 16, 32 or 64 gigabytes of internal disk storage. That doesn’t sound like much storage space but keep in mind these systems are designed to be used with cloud storage in the same manner that Chromebooks have been using for several years. The cheaper 11-inch Acer Cloudbook will include 100 gigabytes of Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage while the more expensive 14-inch version will include one terabyte of the same OneDrive cloud storage. That should be more than enough storage space for anyone looking for a cheap laptop. They also should work with Google Drive, Dropbox, and other cloud storage services. Both systems also include a 1-year subscription of Office 365 Personal.
The new Acer systems obviously are designed to work with cloud storage but still have enough internal disk drive space to store a modest number of files internally. An Internet connection will not be required at all times but obviously will be desirable whenever connectivity is available.
These systems obviously are designed to compete with the low-cost Chromebooks that have been taking business away form Windows systems. Last year, around 5.7 million Chromebooks shipped worldwide, Gartner said, and by 2016 that number is expected to jump to almost 8 million. Microsoft must be feeling the competition by now and has responded by offering licensed copies of Windows to laptop manufacturers at prices designed to compete with Chromebooks. The Chromebooks don’t offer much in the way of internal storage space, but instead rely on the cloud. Acer Cloudbooks will do the same while still offering the Windows 10 operating system.
Obviously, using cloud storage saves money for the manufacturer who doesn’t have to include expensive, high storage capacity hard drives. The price savings are passed on to consumers.
At these prices, the new laptop computers obviously are not the most powerful systems available. They provide modest performance at very modest prices. I wouldn’t use one of the Acer Cloudbooks for intensive multi-processing with video editing, CAD/CAM engineering tasks, or other heavy-duty computing tasks. However, they should provide more than enough power for most people who want a system to track the results of genealogy research, read and write email messages, surf the web, run Office 365 Personal, play music, play a few games, and follow their friends on Facebook.
Any of the Acer’s Cloudbook should be capable of running any Windows genealogy program available today: Family Tree Builder, RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, AncestralQuest, Family Historian, GRAMPS, Family Tree Maker, or anything else that runs on Windows. In fact, the new low-powered Windows laptops from Acer are more powerful than the top-end Windows Vista systems of only a few years ago. They should run any of today’s Windows genealogy programs and have computing power left over for other tasks.
The 11-inch model with the smallest hard drive will sell for US $169 and should start shipping later this month. The 14-inch model will sell for as little as US $199 and be available by the end of September.
You can read more about the soon-to-be-released Acer Cloudbooks at http://us.acer.com/ac/en/US/press/2015/162099.