Acer has launched its C720 Chromebook computer series on Thursday, which the manufacturer touts as being sleeker, faster, and more secure than its predecessor. Available for pre-order from Amazon and Best Buy websites, consumers can get the first model in the series, the C720-800, for $249.99 in the United States.

The third-generation Chromebook comes with several interesting features that could rival smaller laptops like the Macbook Air. It has an 11.6-inch display with a 1366 x 768 screen resolution, weighs 2.76 pounds, has up to 8.5 hours of battery life, includes an Intel Celeron 2955U processor, 4GB of DDR3L memory, and a 16GB SSD hard drive.

This also happens to be one of the first Chromebooks powered by Intel Haswell micro-architecture since Google made the announcement in September.

Meet the new C720-800 Chromebook

Acer Chromebook previewed at IDF forward 730x577 Acer launches $249 Haswell powered 11.6 inch C720 Chromebook with 8.5 hour battery life and 16GB SSD

Like with all other Chromebooks, the Acer C720 comes with the latest Chrome operating system, which gives quick access to the entire suite of Google products, including Drive, Docs, Google+, Gmail, and others. Interestingly, the new computer doesn’t include any additional incentive to use Google Drive — Google offered 1TB of free storage with the Chromebook Pixel and the HP Chromebook 11.

Earlier this week, there was some speculation that suggested the C720 would be a touchscreen computer. In the initial version, this is not the case — it does have an anti-glare display, which should appeal to those users who like to work outdoors in the sunlight. Additional configurations are possible for the computer, but Acer has not revealed what those are.

Currently, the base model is WiFi only and Acer says that it doesn’t have any 3G or 4G options for the computer in North America.The company says that it can, however, “quickly connect” to hotspots and wireless networks through its 802.11a/b/g/n antenna.

Updated design

One of the things that Acer touts is the design of the C720 Chromebook. It’s 0.75-inches thick and comes with a full-sized keyboard. This isn’t a model that was started from scratch — the company built on its C710 Chromebook, which was known for its performance and integration of the Chrome OS while also being relatively affordable.

When you compare the C720 with the C710, there are some marked differences. While both models have an 11.6-inch display with a 1366×768 screen resolution, the C710 is thicker by 0.25-inches. The battery on this model will only last up to 4 hours (8 hours on the C720).

Consumers will find that the Acer C720 also has USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, an HDMI port for video and exporting content to HDTVs. Lastly, the computer also includes an SD card reader.

Faster by seconds?

With its Intel Celeron 2955U processor, Acer believes that users will be able to get to their content faster. The company touts that with the computer’s Solid State Drive, it can boot up from sleep mode in less than 7 seconds.

How does it stack up against other computers?

So how does the Acer Chromebook measure up against other computers? Based on specs alone, it’s the same price as Samsung’s Chromebook, but it’s slightly heavier and has a longer battery life and more RAM.

On the higher end of the spectrum, let’s look at how the Chromebook Pixel compares to the C720. If the rumors are true and future configurations do include a touchscreen, this could potentially give the Chromebook Pixel a run for its money. Acer’s computer is much cheaper ($249 versus $1,299), though it comes with less hard drive space. Also, the anti-glare screen is also a plus, although the Pixel has a bigger display at 12.85-inches with a 2560×1700 screen resolution. Oh, and the Pixel weighs much more (3.35 pounds).

How about the Macbook Air? We looked at the new 11-inch Apple computer and it’s more expensive than Acer’s ($999 vs. $249), but both have the same display and screen resolutions. However, Apple has more storage space at a minimum of 128GB and includes a 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor. The Air is also lighter and has a longer battery life (up to 9 hours).

Just in time for the holidays

Acer says that pre-orders are now being accepted on Amazon.com and BestBuy.com (but not Google Play?), but it hasn’t revealed when the first computer will begin shipping.

Based on the company’s previous statement when it previewed its Intel-powered Chromebook based on Haswell microarchitecture at IDF, it said that the upcoming Acer Chromebook would “be available in time for the holiday season.”

Photo credits: Acer