Acer's latest Chromebook packs speed in a tiny rugged body

The new Chromebook 11 can take demanding tasks (and the occasional drop).

When you spring for a Chromebook, the choice between performance and ruggedness is usually an either/or proposition: you can get a durable machine or speedy hardware, but seldom both. Acer thinks it can strike a balance between the two. It's launching the Chromebook 11 C771, which theoretically blends a tough body with better-than-usual processing power. The system is the first 11.6-inch Chromebook to pack Intel's 6th-generation chips, which promise both a speed bump over rivals and very healthy battery life (up to 13 hours on a non-touch model). It starts off with a 1.6GHz Celeron chip, but you'll get Core i3 and i5 models in September that should be up to more demanding web tasks.

As for the durability? Acer vows that the C771 can survive up to 132 pounds of force when closed, so it shouldn't crack you squeeze it into a backpack. It also meets military standards for drops, dust resistance and water resistance, so don't panic if you spill your drink.

Acer is aiming this system at the business and the school crowds -- don't expect to wander into a store and find one. However, the price will at least increase the chances of seeing one on your desk. Acer is selling regular and touchscreen versions of the C771 for $280 and $330 in August. The big question: what's the price of the Core i3 and i5 variants? They shouldn't be too pricey in a system like this, but they may be a tougher sell if they're closer to the price of a Windows PC.