Hewlett-Packard and Acer were among four hardware makers previewing new Haswell-powered Chromebooks this morning at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. But, so far, HP is the only company offering actual details about what its next Chromebook will look and feel like before it arrives in time for the holiday shopping season. However, we were able to track down both HP and Acer during a small meeting at IDF, and we got a bit of hands-on time with prototypes of their respective upcoming Chrome OS laptops.
Unfortunately, we didn't get spend much time with either machine — only a couple minutes as the computers were passed around for photographs — but both machines feel solid without necessarily being premium. One touch and you can clearly tell they're plastic, not quality metal, but we're no longer looking at bargain-basement construction or materials. The keyboards are shallow and the touchpads small, but they feel like they were meant to be used by real, breathing human beings.
HP is calling its device the Chromebook 14, and as you might guess from the name, it'll feature a 14-inch display. The Chromebook 14 will sell for $299.99 when it arrives, and it will be available in three colors — snow white, ocean turquoise, and coral peach. HP said
You've never seen a Chromebook that looks like this the Chromebook 14 will be the first Haswell Chromebook to hit the market this year, and that it should get about nine and a half hours of battery life. All three of HP's prototypes that we saw were attractive and sleek. The bright color options were a welcome change of pace from the usual black and silver laptops we're used to. The Chromebook 14 will utilize a 16GB solid-state hard drive for local storage and 100GB of free Google Drive storage for two years. An HDMI port, one USB 2.0, and one USB 3.0 port are built into the laptop. And HP is throwing in 200MB of free T-Mobile 4G data per month for two years, so the laptop can be used when you can't find a Wi-Fi signal.
The new Acer Chromebook is exceptionally light and small, and feels like a laptop you could easily stuff in a messenger bag as a tablet alternative. While Acer would let us look at and hold their Haswell Chromebook, the company wouldn't tell us what it's called, or how much it will cost. The display is a bit smaller than HP's model, coming in at 11.6-inches. And Acer is promising battery life of about eight and a half hours. Arif Maskatia, Acer's chief technology officer, said that his company's next Chromebook would go on sale before the end of the year.
Additional reporting by Sean Hollister