Acer’s $280 C710 Chromebook hits stores March 17

Acer AC710 ChromebookIf a $300 Chromebook is a touch beyond your budget, Acer just launched a $280 version with a smaller hard drive.

The slightly more affordable C710-2055 looks basically identical to the $300 C710-2605. They both share the same 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 resolution HD display, rather than the Google Chromebook Pixel‘s near-retina resolution. Under its hood, both Acer Chromebooks share the same 1.1GHz Celeron 847 processor from Intel, 4GB of RAM, Wi-Fi (but no Bluetooth), HD webcam, and have the same 5000mAh battery that will give the laptops approximately 6 hours of juice.

The only hardware difference we could find between the $300 and $280 configurations has to do with the hard drive. With the $280 Chromebook (C710-2055), you will have a 320GB standard hard drive to store all your files and photos offline, but for $20 more you could have a 500GB hard drive on your $300 device (C710-2605). 

As a laptop that runs Google’s Chrome operating system rather than Windows or MacOS, you’ll be spending most of your time accessing cloud-based tools like Google Docs, Gmail and Calendar, and using the Chrome Web browser. If you’re worried that the Chromebook will become  useless when you have no Internet connection, Acer wants to assure you that there are “hundreds of app with offline capabilities” in the Chrome Web Store so you can make good use of that 320GB of storage on the C710-2055.

This Acer Chromebook comes with all the expansion slots and ports you’d need on a laptop: three USB 2.0s, one HDMI for plugging into your HDTV, one VGA in case you need to plug into a projector for presentations, one full-sized SD card slot, an Ethernet jack, as well as a combo mic and headphone jack for your headset.

While the C710-2055 won’t win any award for being thin and sexy, considering its sub-$300 price tag and perfectly tote-table weight at just 3.2-pounds, this Acer Chromebook could be an affordable computer for a casual user. Of course we would prefer for this Acer Chromebook’s price to be as low as the $250 Samsung Series 3 Chromebook, but it deserves to command a higher price tag due to its Intel brains. If you prefer a larger 14-inch display, then it’s worth dropping $330 for the HP Chromebook. Otherwise, the $280 Acer is priced just right and should sell well in the U.S. when it lands in stores on March 17.