CES officially starts this week, which means announcements are going to start pouring out. Every year it seems the pre-CES stuff starts earlier, and for 2015 Acer is kicking things off with a bevy of new products. We’ve already covered their new IPS G-SYNC display, and up next we have new Chromebooks. I’ve been working on a review of the Chromebook 13, which will receive a minor update with the availability of a touchscreen now, but the real news is the Chromebook 15.

At first blush, you might wonder why anyone would need a 15.6” Chromebook, but with Chrome OS expanding in features and capabilities it’s only natural to see a wider variety of devices. The 15.6” class also means things like 1080p displays are readily available, and the Chromebook 15 will have models with 1080p as well as lower spec models with 1366x768 displays. Even better is that the 1080p panel features wide viewing angles and an anti-glare coating. The 1366x768 panel on the other hand appears to be a typical mediocre quality TN panel, “ideal for budget minded customers”.

More interesting than the display perhaps is the processor choice: the Chromebook 15 will be the first Chromebook to ship with a 5th Generation Intel processor. It’s not too surprising that we’re talking about a Celeron variant of Broadwell, but given that the Haswell-based Celeron 2955U still does quite well compared to other Chromebook processors, the upgrade to Broadwell certainly can’t hurt. As with the C720, there will also be a Core i3 variant available for those that want even more performance. Battery life for now doesn’t appear to have changed from the older C720 Chromebook, as Acer is rating the CB15 at eight hours of battery life.

In terms of styling, the CB15 builds off the white theme of the Chromebook 13, only with a larger chassis obviously. The dimensions are 393mm x 256mm x 24.2mm (15.4” x 10.08” x 0.95”), and the CB15 weighs 2.2kg (4.85 lbs). It also comes with 2x2 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port, an HDMI port, and an SD card reader.

Pricing of the Chromebook 15 starts at $249 for the 1366x768 version with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage. Other models with up to 4GB RAM and 32GB storage will exist, but the full specifications and pricing for those models has not been disclosed. Availability has not been announced either, but when we visit with Acer later this week we’ll hopefully be able to find out more about the CB15 and get some hands on time with it.

As for the touchscreen C13, battery life is rated at up to 13 hours with pricing starting at $329. Availability is slated for this month, but Acer doesn’t mention whether the touchscreen option will be available with both 1366x768 and 1080p models, or only one. There’s also still the question of how much a touchscreen really matters for laptops; I don’t generally find myself missing a touchscreen if it’s not there, as I’m more concerned with keeping fingerprints off my display, but YMMV.

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  • edhburns - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - link

    Screen: 1080p with wide viewing angles. What I get from this is that Chromebooks are being seen as relevant enough by the companies to start putting in decent displays. Is it going to be the best display out there? No, but it should finally be good enough.

    Ram bussed/ upgradeable: Probably not. I would be extremely surprised to find out that that is the case. That is getting more and more rare in the laptop department and I don't see companies bothering with building extra ports into machines that most people who buy wouldn't even know exist. It would be nice though.

    Fan: Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe all Haswell and the upcoming Broadwell chips need a fan to stay cool. This is the one that I am least sure about.

    As far as ChromeOS as an operating system, I love the concept. I've liked the idea since they made the original beta version of their laptop (the name escapes me now though). I'm just waiting until the hardware matures which appears to be happening this year or next.
  • savagemike - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - link

    I would be somewhat surprised by the bussed memory too. But then I was also surprised at the Broadwell Celeron so I'll just be hopeful.

    I'm not sure about the fan either. I hope you're wrong though.

    I was in the same mode of waiting on a ChromeOS device but got a great deal on an Acer C720 refurb and like it a lot. The screen leaves much to be desired. And I'm at a place where the screen is a tad small for me - especially as I'm not really making too much use of the portability.

    All in all the Chromebook has been great. Much more like using a tablet - that same appliance computing nature. But all dressed up in traditional computer usage clothing. Very handy.
  • jay401 - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - link

    Depends on the price. watch the price tag on the one with the decent 1080p display and the Broadwell chip. Likely to be in actual laptop price range. Chromebook is interesting when it's $200, which is where they started out. As usual, price creep is starting to price them out of their original market segment. Instead of fitting newer tech into the same price category, they're climbing up the price categories to be able to include the tech, which shows they can't really do it cost-effectively.
  • jwcalla - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - link

    I think there are going to be some very cheap Rockchip Chromebooks this year. Performance should be good and maybe the saved money can be spent on other things like the screen or touch, etc.

    Maybe we'll get some more Tegra Chromebooks too.
  • Flunk - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - link

    ChromeOS doesn't need a more powerful processor, all it is is a web browser and you wouldn't see any benefit from a more expensive processor. If you're thinking of installing Linux you can just buy any notebook.
  • Kraszmyl - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - link

    If I recall correctly google is now going to run Linux VMs inside the chrome tabs for increased application compatibility since people buy these and then cry about being limited to web applications. So the increased hardware is most likely going to be required.
  • tarqsharq - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - link

    I have an Acer Chromebook 11 CB3-111-C670 with the Celeron N2830 Dual Core 2.16 GHz Processor.

    It's great over all for how cheap it is. The only sad thing I noticed is that it stutters heavily on 720p 60fps Youtube videos :(

    And my favorite car channel on Youtube has started posting at that, so I have to crank it down to 480p, oh well.
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - link

    Sadly, the new CB3 with the Atom-based processor is a clear step down in performance compared to the older C720. I think the design improved with the 11.6" CB3, but I wish Acer had kept the Haswell 2955U processor in there. I've tested 1080p YouTube on the C720 as an example, and it plays without any difficulties.
  • Beany2013 - Monday, January 5, 2015 - link

    Apropos of nothing, but what car channel is it, and don't they offer a 720p30 mode as well? I've not seen that many 60fps videos on Youtube, but I'm sure I recall seeing that option!
  • tarqsharq - Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - link

    Regular Car Reviews.

    They don't have it selectable for 720p only that I can see.

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