Most Chromebooks made for schools to give to students have 11.6-inch widescreen displays. This screen size keeps prices down and the Chromebooks small for toting between school and home. But trying to view documents and use educational websites on them is miserable. I experienced that pain firsthand when my kids used them for remote learning over the past two years. Acer is doing something about it, however, with the upcoming Chromebook 512.
Just as most new consumer laptops and Chromebooks are moving away from wide 16:9-aspect-ratio displays in favor of 3:2 or 16:10 displays, the Chromebook 512 (C852/C852T) will have a 12-inch screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio. This gives it 18% more vertical space compared to an 11.6-inch model, which means students can fit more of a page on screen while working.
The 512, which will run on Intel N-series processors, also features dual microphones and a webcam designed to minimize flare caused by bright background lights. It will have an impact-resistant chassis that meets mil-spec standards for durability as well as a keyboard with mechanically anchored keys to help prevent students from prying them off.
The Acer Chromebook 512 is expected to be available this month starting at $350, which converts to approximately £260 or AU$490. Acer will also offer an 11.6-inch version, the Chromebook 511, that has many of the same features including chassis made from post-consumer recycled plastics and an OceanGlass touchpad made from ocean-bound plastic waste but with the feel of a glass touchpad. It’s scheduled to arrive in February starting at $350.
A taller 12-inch display is helpful but if that’s still too small, Acer also announced the Chromebook 314 (model C94/T) built for administrators, teachers and older students. It will have a 14-inch full-HD widescreen display along with Intel N-series processors, up to 10 hours of battery life and Wi-Fi 6 for faster wireless performance on 802.11ax networks. Like the Chromebook 512, it will also have an improved webcam. It’s expected in the second half of this year starting at $430.
Acer also announced a small 11.6-inch two-in-one, the Chromebook Spin 311. Expected to start at $400 when it’s available in March, the compact convertible for K-12 students uses a MediaTek MT8183 processor to help get up to 15 hours of battery life. It’ll have an HD webcam with a privacy shutter, a reinforced chassis made from recycled plastics and either Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 (model R723T) or Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2 (R722T).