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Acer Review: $250 Chromebook In; Microsoft Windows Out

7. Fan, noise and heat: While the HP is a fanless, quiet and zero-failure design, the Acer has a conventional fan. This is a big selling point for this HP.

8. Charging: Acer has a conventional (proprietary) laptop charger. The HP uses MicroUSB, which you can also use for all non-Apple smartphones and many tablets. Big win for HP.

9. Ports: Acer offers USB 3.0 (instead of 2.0) and a MicroSD slot. It's also possible to physically lock the Acer with one of those laptop chains. I don't think USB 3.0 and a MicroSD slot appeals much to a Chromebook user, but for what it's worth, Acer easily wins this round.

10. Price and value: $250 and $279, respectively. Seriously, who cares? For the price, it's like asking if you want Elvis Presley or Frank Sinatra to perform at your party for next to nothing.

The bottom line is this: The biggest single constraint is whether you need the Acer's massively superior CPU power, thanks to the Intel Haswell chip. Some want and need this; others don't. With it, you also get better battery life.

If you don't need or appreciate this CPU horsepower, the HP gives you a better display, slightly better keyboard, a silent fanless design that will run cold in your lap, as well as the brilliant idea of using a cell phone charger for the laptop.

In my case, I give the edge to the Acer simply because I think I need the additional CPU horsepower as I navigate lots of complex browser tabs. In an ideal world, I would like to combine this one Acer advantage with all the other supremely attractive traits of the HP Chromebook.

We will soon see larger (14-inch display, plus or minus) Chromebooks with embedded LTE. Google's assault on Microsoft's and Apple's PC dominance has just gotten started, but the non-reviewers in the peanut gallery aren't seeing it yet. If a PC can't run Photoshop or play some absurd childish game, it can be dismissed, in their view.

Acer got a bit burned on the netbook craze in early 2009. It wouldn't jump into the Chromebook world with this aggressive $250 Haswell-based offer if the company wasn't certain Chromebooks were winning against Microsoft and Apple in the marketplace.

This $250 Acer Chromebook isn't perfect. The display isn't the very best. It's not fanless, like the HP. It's got a proprietary laptop charger. However, it's got Intel Haswell horsepower, and it's a solid laptop all-around otherwise. For $250, it's a superb value that I highly recommend.

Every Chromebook or two sold, realistically, means one fewer Microsoft Windows or Apple laptop sold. Good luck to you if you don't see that.

At the time of publication the author was long GOOG and AAPL.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
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