Acer’s latest system doesn’t do anything too drastic with the tried and tested Chromebox form factor, but presents a well thought out, focused take on the hardware category. The Chromebox CX1 Series offers solid specs, good connectivity and is designed to feel right at home in small offices, schools and colleges.
If you’re familiar with Chrome OS hardware, then you’ll already have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting with Acer’s new product. The stripped back nature of the operating system means it doesn't require much processing muscle to cope with its intended uses of casual web browsing, light content consumption and web-based productivity.
The system’s processor is a step above what we’ve seen in past Chromeboxes, packing a Haswell-based Intel Celeron dual core chip clocked at 1.4 GHz. There’s only 16GB of SSD storage on board, but Chrome OS is a web-centric platform, meaning you’ll be keeping most of your files in the cloud. If you do find yourself needing more local storage, there’s an SD card slot, supporting expandability up to 32 GB.
Again, this certainly isn’t a powerhouse desktop, but with the exception of Google’s Chromebook Pixel, it's about what we’ve come to expect from a Chrome OS system.
The benefits of the box’s modest internals really show in its dimensions. The system is just 33 mm (1.3 in) thick, with a 165 mm (6.51 in) x 130 mm (5.12 in) footprint. Acer thinks the system is a good fit for schools, colleges and small businesses, emphasizing the simplicity of the OS and touting its ability to be VESA mounted to the back of a display.
The little box also features some good connectivity, with dual monitor support (HDMI and DisplayPort), 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and Gigabit Ethernet. There are four USB 3.0 ports, two of which can be used to charge smartphones and tablets, and a keyboard and mouse are supplied.
The Acer Chromebox CX1 Series is being targeted squarely at North America, where it will release in late September. There are two versions of the system, one with 2 GB of RAM that retails for US$180, and a 4 GB variant that comes in at $220.
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