Acer has now taken the wraps off of two new Chromebooks, the Acer Chromebook Spin 512 and Acer Chromebook 512, taking its first steps into the education sector in the 12-inch Chrome OS format. As the model designations imply, there are both key similarities between the gadgets and some relatively big differences that set the two devices apart.
As with other recently launched Acer devices, each new Chromebook will also ship in various configurations to better suit the needs of teachers and students and both products will be available for commercial business customers as well.
Different by design
External variations between the Acer Chromebook Spin 512 and Chromebook 512 are going to be the most noticeable for end users and will change how each is used in their intended setting.
The Acer Chromebook 512 will ship in a clamshell configuration with its display built around a more square-shaped 3:2 aspect ratio and set on a 180-degree hinge to make shared viewing more straightforward. The company's Chromebook Spin 512 has a similar aesthetic and the same screen ratio but with the display set on a 360-degree hinge for tent, tablet, clamshell, and stand mode.
Touchscreen options will also be available with the Acer Chromebook 512, broadening the overall number of settings where the devices will perfectly suit the users' needs.
Engineered for the rough-and-tumble school environment, both devices are built around MIL-STD 810G military standards. Acer has tested the reinforced and shock-absorbing bumper design of the new Chromebooks' frame to survive drops at up to 48 inches and up to 132lbs of downward force.
The laptops are kid-friendly too, meeting ASTM F963-16 and UL/IED 60950-1 toy standards and featuring pick-resistant mechanically-anchored keyboards. Those are capable of withstanding up to 11-ounces of fluid. The keyboards are made to be easily repaired without sending off the Chrome OS devices and the touchpads are moisture-resistant as well.
Acer's Chromebook Spin 512 takes that focus on safety and durability a step further to incorporate Gorilla Glass 3 with an antimicrobial coating.
For both devices, Acer has ensured safety and durability is accented by comfort during use. All corners and edges of the hardware are rounded off. That gives the Chromebooks a smooth aesthetic while ensuring there aren't any sharp edges to get in the way. Two high-definition stereo speakers provide audio and a dedicated integrated mic keeps video chat and recorded audio clean.
Each of the new Chromebooks is intended to be as productive and capable as possible to complement the overall design. That means that not only is Acer offering a garaged EMR stylus for keeping notes or getting creative on the touchscreen-enabled. Chromebook Spin 512. Each device ships with Bluetooth 5.0, two USB 3.1 Type-C ports with reverse charging and data transfers at 5Gbps display output. Two standard USB 3.0 ports are included for maximum compatibility.
Specs to power either learning or business
Acer's Chromebook Spin 512 and Chromebook 512 will each be available with an IPS HD+ 12-inch display with a resolution of 1366 x 912. Final details haven't been released for the latter device just yet but the 2-in-1 version will feature a wide viewing angle up to 170-degrees. Acer's high-brightness CineCrystal LED technology will be in use in the convertible format too.
Just above the display, both devices feature an HDR-capable webcam with an 88-degree field-of-view. An 8-megapixel auto-focus camera is incorporated for 'world-facing' shots and video on the Acer Chromebook Spin 512. Contrary to the trends with other clamshell-style Chrome OS gadgets, Acer is offering the option to include a world-facing 5-megapixel camera for the Chromebook 512 as well
Internally, both the Chromebook 512 and Chromebook Spin 512 will be offered with either a quad-core Intel Celeron N411 or Intel Pentium Silver N5000 processor. The chips are clocked at 1.1GHz for the base frequency and offer up to 2.4GHz or 2.7GHz through Intel Burst Technology, respectively. The Acer Chromebook 512 will be made available in an additional variant with a dual-core Intel Celeron N4000 processor for solid performance at a lower cost.
Graphics processing will be provided via either an Intel Intel UHD Graphics 600 or Intel UHD Graphics 605, depending on the processor chosen. Both support OpenGL 4.4, OpenCL 1.2, Vulkan, and Microsoft DirectX 12.
4GB and up to 8GB or dual channel LPDDR4 SDRAM will back up either device's processors on the memory side while storage is set to be available at either 32GB or 64GB. That will be eMMC flash storage, expandable via microSD card thanks to the included card reader slot.
For wireless connections, an Intel Wireless-AC 9560 card is built-in, allowing dual-band connectivity with multi-users 2 x 2 MIMIO technology over Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac protocols.
Security internally is handled via Chrome OS' threat-resistant nature and a discrete H1 TPM module. A Kensington lock is included for circumstances where physical protection is needed or where students might accidentally remove a device from its station.
More power and better oversight
Most Chromebooks fall in at right around eight to ten hours of battery life but Acer has bucked that trend for its latest devices. The new Chromebook 512 and Chromebook Spin 512 are expected to keep working for up to 12 hours, allowing for true all-day use.
The company has also ensured that each of the Chrome OS devices will support both Android apps and G Suite for Education services.
The extra battery life and focus on support for G Suite for Education are additionally intended to help in situations where students who might take their devices home. That's made all the more clear by Acer's decision to make sure that the gadgets will work flawlessly with Google's Family Link parental control software. With both software suites active, both parents and school (or business) IT administrators will be able to let users access appropriate Android and web apps as well as set limitations for use.
Showing at BETT in the UK and launching soon
Acer is bringing both of the new Chromebooks in its 512 series to the UK's BETT education technology convention running from January 23 through January 26. No pricing is being made available yet since that will vary by region but the company has said that it will be launching in the US and the UK soon.
The Acer Chromebook 512 and Acer Chromebook Spin 512 will land in both the EMEA and North America at some point in the second quarter of this year.