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Acer launches its new Chromebox for $300

Acer teased a new Chrome OS desktop back in January at CES, and today, we have more pricing release information. The Acer Chromebox CXI3 is now available for preorder, and it costs £297.99 for the most basic variant, as spotted by AndroidPolice.

As we heard at CES, it has three Intel Core processor options: the Intel Celeron 3865U, Intel Core i3 (seventh-gen) 7130U, or the Intel Core i5 (eighth-gen) 8250U. The basic version has 4GB of RAM, but you can select up to 16GB of RAM.

The eighth-gen Intel Core version costs £744.99.

There are three SM© USB 3.0 ports, two SM© USB 2.0 ports, and one USB-C 3.0 port. There’s also a port for an HDMI cable, LAN for Gigabit Ethernet, headphones / microphone, and a microSD card slot. It comes with a vertical stand and an optional VESA mounting kit so you can attach the Chromebox to the back of your monitor if desired.

The Acer Chromebox CXI3 is available for preorder from NextWarehouse and TigerDirect for now, with other sites to follow.

While TigerDirect prices the Chromebox at the lower price of £297.99, it charges £10 for shipping and is currently out of stock.

NextWarehouse charges £308.53 for the basic version with free shipping.

HP goes up against the iPad Pro with its $599 Chromebook x2

Two weeks ago, Acer announced the first tablet running Chrome OS. And today, HP is announcing the second — and it’s a lot higher end.

It’s called the Chromebook x2, and it’s very much designed to go after the iPad Pro. It has a 12.3-inch screen (the larger iPad Pro has a 12.9-inch screen), docks with a keyboard cover, and supports stylus input.

The big benefit here is that the full package is available for much, much cheaper: the Chromebook x2 costs £599 in its base configuration and comes bundled with the keyboard cover and stylus.

The iPad starts at £649 for the (smaller) tablet on its own, and you’ll have to spend £1,067 if you want the 12.9-inch model with a keyboard and pen. So if you’re thinking about using a tablet (with a non-traditional operating system) as a portable computer, HP will get you there for way cheaper.

The Chromebook x2 has a Core m3 processor from Intel’s prior generation of Kaby Lake chips, 4GB of RAM (it can be configured with 8GB, too), 32GB of storage, a 2400 x 1600 resolution, stereo speakers, a 5 megapixel front camera, a 13 megapixel rear camera, two USB-C ports, a Micro SD card slot, a headphone jack, and an estimated 10.5 hours of battery life. It weighs a little bit more than an iPad Pro, and it’s a little bit thicker than an iPad Pro, but not by much.

In a briefing, HP also emphasized that the keyboard was designed to hold firmly enough to the tablet that it should feel like a clamshell laptop when the two are connected.

I haven’t seen the Chromebook x2 in person, but HP’s images make it look relatively nice — like a combination of Google’s Pixelbook, with its metal and glossy white top, and Microsoft’s Surface Laptop, with its soft and colorful keyboard.

The Chromebook x2 seems to have a lot of potential, but there are some big questions — and not just around whether the hardware is as good as it looks. The real open question is whether Chrome OS is cut out to work on a tablet. Google has been overhauling the operating system to work better with touchscreens for a couple years now, but it’s still very much a desktop system (it’s based around the Chrome desktop browser and its display of desktop websites, after all).

That’s likely to limit how useful it is, especially in comparison to an iPad, which was designed for touch from the ground up.

And while the Chromebook x2 looks like a bargain compared to the iPad, it’s expensive for a Chromebook, which people often buy for around £300.

At £600, you enter into the world of lower-cost Windows computers, which this product will have to compete with, too.

HP plans to launch the Chromebook x2 sometime in June.

And from the looks of it, we could see a few more Chrome OS tablets before then.

Apple iPad education event: start time and live blog

Here we are, kids, hours away from Apple’s big education event where we’re expecting to learn about the company’s strategy to reclaim dominance in classrooms, crucial for the incubation of the next generation of consumers. Apple’s expected to announce a low-cost iPad (an ePad?), probably with Pencil stylus support, in addition to new software and services needed by educators and students alike.

It’s an important event for Apple, which has fallen behind both Microsoft and Google, particularly in US school districts (today’s event is being held at a Chicago high school). Google has emerged to reign supreme thanks to cheap Chromebooks and, as of yesterday, an entirely new class of devices: Chrome OS tablets like the £329 Tab 10 from Acer.

Chromebooks sell for less than £300, whereas the cheapest iPad currently sells for £329 but without Pencil or Smart Keyboard support. While cheaper MacBooks had been rumored, we’re not expecting any news on that front today.

But to compete, Apple will have to do more than introduce attractively priced hardware — it’ll have to match Google in terms of services and software. School districts love Chromebooks because they are dead simple to setup and manage in large numbers thanks to their cloud-first optimization.

Students can be up and running within seconds of logging in to a new device, compared to the configuration required for an iPad. It’s a lucrative proposition, too, with Google making £30 per device on management services for the millions of Chromebooks it ships to schools, according to a New York Times report from last year. Apple revenue is increasingly made up of services, so expect to hear more about new services built for educators today.

Of course, this is Apple, so anything (maybe even “one more thing”) could happen when Tim Cook and co. take the stage.

As always, The Verge will be on the ground at the event in order to bring you all the latest news as it happens.

Here’s how you can follow along:

HOW TO FOLLOW ALONG

Starting time: San Francisco: 8AM / New York: 11AM / London: 4PM / Berlin: 5PM / Moscow: 6PM / New Delhi: 8:30PM / Beijing: 11PM / Tokyo: Midnight (March 28th) / Sydney: 1AM (March 28th)

Live blog: Tune into The Verge’s live blog for up-to-the-second updates, commentary, and pictures directly from the venue.

Live stream: Sorry, Apple won’t be live streaming the event as it happens.

It will however, make a recorded version available to watch after the event concludes.

Live tweeting: Follow @Verge on Twitter for the latest headlines and specs as they emerge.

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